Chris Wilson scored 22 points, including the game-clinching three-pointer with 39 seconds remaining, as Saint Joseph’s (13-16; 7-10 A-10) defeated city and Atlantic 10 rival La Salle, 55-50, in men’s basketball action at Hagan Arena, on “Senior Night”.
Wilson, who was one shy of his career-high for points in his final home game at Saint Joseph's, shot 5-for-9 from three-point range while adding six rebounds and three steals.
The A-10’s leading scorer DeAndre’ Bembry had 14 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, just narrowly missing the first Saint Joseph’s triple-double since 2005. James Demery added 10 points and Isaiah Miles had 11 rebounds for the Hawks.
The victory was the 375th for head coach Phil Martelli, in his 20 seasons at Saint Joseph’s. He is the school’s all-time leader in wins.
Jordan Price scored 17 points as the only player in double figures for La Salle (15-15; 7-10).
Saint Joseph’s trailed 39-33 after La Salle outscored the Hawks, 16-9, over the first nine minutes of the second half. But SJU regained the lead, 43-42 on a pair of free throws by Bembry at 6:34, and held the Explorers scoreless for six minutes to build up a 49-42 lead with 3:44 to play.
La Salle cut it to 49-48 after five straight points from Price, but Wilson hit his fifth three of the game at :39 to give the Hawks a 52-48 cushion. Price connected on a layup at :07 to pull La Salle within 53-50, but Bembry sealed the win with two free throws at :05.
After the pre-game senior ceremony honoring Wilson and Evan Maschmeyer, the point guard came out firing, hitting four of his first six three-point attempts as Saint Joseph’s built up a 14-5 lead. The Explorers closed to within 19-17, but after the Hawks took a 24-17 lead on a layup by Jai Williams, La Salle closed out the half with a pair of threes by Johnnie Shuler and Rohan Brown, to cut the SJU lead to 24-23 at halftime. Both teams shot an identical 8-for-32 from the field in the first half.
"It's just a very, very hard game when the ball doesn't go in the basket. It was just such bad offense. I don't think I did enough for them in preparing them. Basically, they were not guarding one player all of the time on the floor for us. But, we had missed lay-ups, and shot 50 percent from the foul line," said Martelli. "I just congratulated our team because I thought our defense carried us. And we were trying to play man and zone, but we didn't have enough bounce. At the start of the second half when they had their biggest lead, we changed our defense on the low post and basically gave DeAndre [Jordan] Price, and it worked out for us because of our defense."
I'm proud of the fact that he's going to graduate, that he's walking out of here with a championship ring," said Martelli of Wilson. "He represents his family, which is what I ask all of them to do. That's what I'm proud of. Not the basketball. The basketball, to me, is still very much a work-in-progress, and we have another week to go to see if we can't get him to play at a higher level, but that's all of them. But for Chris, knowing that he's going to graduate and knowing that there's never been a midnight phone call about him, there's never been a phone call at 10 in the morning from a professor about him. He's a tribute to his family."
Saint Joseph's heads to Rhode Island on Saturday to close out the regular-season. The Atlantic 10 Championship runs from March 11-15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.