PHILADELPHIA – Sophomore DeAndre' Bembry scored a game-high 20 points but it wasn't enough as the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team ultimately fell to La Salle, 53-48, at Tom Gola Arena in a Big 5 and Atlantic 10 game on Tuesday night.
Saint Joseph's (8-11 overall, 2-5 A-10; 1-3 Big 5) led for much of the game, but a jumper by Khalid Lewis with six minutes remaining gave the Explorers a 43-41 edge. Bembry traded baskets with La Salle's Steve Zack before freshman Shavar Newkirk completed a three-point play with 3:23 to go to put SJU up 46-45, for its final lead of the game.
Both teams went scoreless over the next two minutes, but La Salle (11-9 overall, 3-4 A-10; 2-2 Big 5) nosed ahead once again as Jerrell Wright scored two of his team-high 19 points with 1:12 to play. After a long-range miss by Bembry, the Hawks were forced to foul, and the Explorers made six-of-six attempts from the line over the final 28 seconds to ice the game.
It was the fourth straight game of 20-plus points for Bembry, who was named the A-10 Co-Player of the Week. The sophomore shot 8-for-15 from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds and tying his career-high with five steals.
Isaiah Miles was the only other Hawk in double figures with 10 points, all in the first half. Chris Wilson handed out seven assists and Javon Baumann shot 3-for-3 from the field and posted a career-high five blocks for the second game in a row.
With La Salle holding a 10-9 lead eight minutes into the game, Saint Joseph’s went on an 18-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 27-12, with 3:12 remaining. The Hawks scored 12 consecutive points in that stretch, with five each from Bembry and Miles. La Salle ended its six-minute scoreless streak with a three-point play from Wright.
SJU took a 27-18 lead into intermission, helped by 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range. The Hawks also forced La Salle into 10 turnovers.
It was a different story in the second half, and although the Hawks opened the period with back-to-back dunks by Bembry and Baumann, they would end up shooting just 1-of-10 from three-point range and commit seven turnovers.
“We’ve been caught a few times now at the end of the first half – we were up 15 and then let them go 6-0. And then in the second half we’ve let the other team come back and we up being a one-man band. That’s my fault,” said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. “Isaiah (Miles) had a play at the end and he hasn’t been coached well enough. If he realized that was a layup opportunity to cut it to one, but he threw the ball backwards. So we have to do a better job for him. My biggest thing is going to be the turnovers and the self rebounds for those two big kids to get their ball back.”
“We’re not being aggressive enough if we get out of an Atlantic 10 game with just two foul shots, so we’ll look at that,” said Martelli.
La Salle chipped away at SJU’s 31-18 lead with six straight points included in a 12-3 run that pulled them within 34-30. The Hawks increased the lead to 39-32 on a three-point play by Bembry, but Roberts and Wright scored the next five points to pull La Salle closer, 39-37. The teams traded leads and had three ties before La Salle took its first advantage since the first half, 43-41, on a jumper by Lewis with six minutes to play.
La Salle was led by 19 points and 10 rebounds from Wright while Cleon Roberts scored 14 points and Steve Zack grabbed 12 rebounds.
Saint Joseph’s will host first-year A-10 member Davidson on Saturday at Hagan Arena in a noon start.