Halil Kanacevic scored 26 points and had 17 rebounds to help lead Saint Joseph's (23-9) past St. Bonaventure, 67-48, and into the Atlantic 10 Championship game on Sunday afternoon. The Hawks will face second-seeded VCU (26-7) for the championship and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Game time is 1 p.m. from the Barclays Center with the telecast on CBS.
The Hawks advance to the A-10 Championship game for the first time since 2008. SJU has won two conference titles in its history – in 1997 and 1986.
Langston Galloway scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, while Ronald Roberts added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks.
Kanacevic shot 8-for-12 from the field in the game and made a career-high 8-of-12 free throws in the game. He also added four assists and surpassed 1,000 rebounds in his career, counting his freshman season at Hofstra. The senior now has a total of 1,128 points, 1,007 rebounds, 397 assists and 211 blocks.
Tied 29-29 at halftime, the Hawks were clicking in the second half, making 52.2 percent from the field while their defense limited the Bonnies to just 16.7 percent shooting. After SBU took a quick 32-31 lead, Saint Joseph’s outscored the Bonnies, 15-1, as Galloway got on track, scoring nine points to give the Hawks their biggest lead to that point, 46-33.
St. Bonaventure would close to 46-38 on a layup by Matthew Wright, but a three from Galloway started a 9-2 run, allowing Saint Joseph’s to go up by 55-40 at 7:11 on a layup by Galloway. The Hawks maintained the 13-plus point lead and went up 61-42 on an emphatic dunk by Kanacevic off a pass from Galloway with 3:50 remaining.
"Our ball skills came in question in the first half, and these three guys (Kanacevic, Galloway, Roberts) just kept talking to their teammates about staying with it. It really wasn't coaching. It was more them being great teammates and trusting each other, and we just wore them down. You know, they missed shots at the rim," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli.
"I think obviously these numbers by Halil are extraordinary, and Langston yesterday, but the effort that DeAndre' (Bembry) just gave. He had a really poor offensive game with five turnovers in the first half, but his defense on Matthew Wright was at a very, very high level."
"So I'm happy for these guys. I just told them that we'll go back and we'll rest and tomorrow we're coming over here for rings and nets. That's what we want to get tomorrow, rings and nets."