Nick Robinson had 14 points and Shavar Newkirk scored 13 to lead fourth seeded Saint Joseph's to a 68-49 win over fifth-seeded George Mason in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals at Capital One Arena. The Hawks, who have won four straight and seven of their last eight, will meet top-seeded Rhode Island in the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Taylor Funk had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double while senior James Demery added 12 points for the Hawks (16-15).
Saint Joseph's led by 17 points in the second half before Mason countered with an 8-0 run, holding the Hawks scoreless for nearly six minutes, to cut it to 52-43. The Hawks then answered with six straight, which included a three by Funk and a breakaway dunk by Pierfrancesco Oliva, to build up a 58-43 cushion with 2:26 to play. From there, the Hawks sealed it from the foul line, going 8-for-8, including a 4-for-4 effort by Newkirk.
Owning a 26-25 lead at halftime, the Hawks got off to a 10-6 start in the second half to go up 36-31. Leading 38-33, Newkirk, Robinson and Funk all hit three-pointers in a 9-2 run to give the Hawks their biggest lead to that point, 47-34, with 11:16 to play. SJU uupped it to 52-35 on a three from Demery before George Mason started its run.
"We made some shots. Taylor Funk made two big threes, Shavar made a big shot, and we played more downhill. In the first half, we missed eight lay-ups. We have to make lay-ups, and God bless us, we're going to need some lay-ups tomorrow. We had a really good scouting report. Geoff Arnold did a terrific job in making sure we had the scouting," said coach Phil Martelli. "The challenge [for URI] is really the physical nature of their defense. I think we can guard, but it's their physical nature of their defense that is absolutely extraordinary. They're one of the few teams in the country where their personality matches their coach. Danny [Hurley] is tough, and they are tough on the floor."
In a low-scoring first half, George Mason took a 23-19 lead with under four minutes to play, but the Hawks went on a 7-0 run, ending in a three-point play by Robinson at 1:46 to take a 26-23 lead. Kier hit a jumper at :30 as Saint Joseph's owned a 26-25 lead at halftime.
The Hawks were just 9-of-29 from the field in the half, while George Mason was 9-of-27 and 1-of-8 from three-point range.
George Mason had beaten the Hawks twice during the regular season, both on buzzer beaters.
This marks Saint Joseph's 17th appearance in the semifinals and it has won the last two, winning the championship in both 2014 and 2016.