Senior James Demery scored 18 and classmate Shavar Newkirk had 16 to lead five Saint Joseph’s players in double figures as the Hawks defeated La Salle, 78-70, on “Senior Day” in the final regular-season game of the year. SJU (15-15; 10-8 A-10) has now won three in a row and six of the last seven.
Freshman Anthony Longpré tied his career-high with 11 points, hitting 3-of-4 from three-point range, while Chris Clover and Nick Robinson had 10 points each for the Hawks.
Pookie Powell scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-18 shooting to lead La Salle (13-18; 7-11 A-10). B.J. Johnson tallied 14 and Saul Phiri had 10.
Saint Joseph’s now awaits the outcome of the remainder of Atlantic 10 games tonight to find out its seeding for next week’s Atlantic 10 Championship, to be held March 7-11 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
A late 12-4 run by Saint Joseph’s in the final five minutes sealed the win. Leading by just 63-61, Demery scored four points in the run, and Pierfrancesco Oliva hit a three-pointer with 1:01 to play as the Hawks opened up its biggest lead of the game, 75-65. Newkirk hit a pair of free throws down the stretch to help put away the victory.
SJU took a 42-33 lead early in the second half, but La Salle scored eight straight, with four from Powell, to close within 42-41. The Explorers took a brief 48-47 lead after a pair of threes from Phiri, but SJU regained the lead for good after five straight points by Demery gave SJU a 55-53 lead with 10:28 to play.
La Salle came within a point, 57-56, before Demery scored four straight and Funk added a bucket to give the Hawks a seven-point cushion, 63-56.
"I told them that all we're trying to do is compete and play for today. We're playing for Thursday. I just told them that they're either going to be fourth, fifth, or sixth. Yesterday was a really strong practice, and it was just about this day, and that's it. So, there was no distraction with Senior Day."
"To pick themselves up and be 6-1, I'm impressed."
In the early going, La Salle led 24-17 before the Hawks outscored the Explorers, 13-6, to take their first lead, 30-28, sice the opening minutes. Longpre’ hit his third three-pointer in as many attempts to build the Hawks’ lead to 35-30, as they took a 39-33 advantage into halftime.
This game counted as the Big 5 contest and gives SJU a 1-3 record for the year, while La Salle is 2-2.
The win was also the 400th in the 68 seasons of Hagan Arena/Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
Saint Joseph’s seniors – Demery, Newkirk, Jai Williams, Michael Booth, Kyle Thompson and Christian Vega - were honored in the pre-game ceremony for their final game at Hagan Arena.