Chris Clover and James Demery combined to score 38 points as Saint Joseph’s (11-19; 4-14 A-10) defeated Duquesne, 63-60, in the regular-season finale at the Palumbo Center, snapping a nine-game losing streak for the Hawks.
In a game that saw both teams hold leads, Charlie Brown’s jumper at 1:07 gave the Hawks a 61-60 advantage. After missed possessions by both teams, the Dukes inbounded with 8.7 seconds to go and Mike Lewis II was fouled on a drive. He missed both free throws at 4.3 seconds and Jai Williams grabbed the Hawks’ biggest rebound in over a month. Williams was fouled and converted both free throws at 2.9 to secure the win for SJU. Duquesne (10-21; 3-15) missed on the ensuing shot and after an SJU turnover, had one more shot with four-tenths of a second to go, but it was off the mark.
Clover scored 19 points and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line while Demery had 19 on 8-for-13 shooting to give the Hawks their first win since January 28. Brown added 11 points for SJU.
Trailing 35-28 at halftime, Demery scored the Hawks’ first 11 points of the second half, and although the Hawks cut it to 40-35, Duquesne increased its lead to 48-38 with over 13 minutes to play.
Saint Joseph’s chipped away and after four points each from Clover and Brown pulled within,52-49. Casper came up with a steal and fed Demery for a layup, and Clover hit a pair of free throws to give the Hawks the lead for the first time since the seven-minute mark of the first half, 53-52.
Clover connected on 4-of-4 free throws to push SJU’s lead to 59-54 with under five minutes to play.
Duquesne regained the lead, 60-59, after a pair of free throws by Emile Blackman and then a layup at 1:25.
Both teams held leads in the early going, but Duquesne used a 5-0 run to take a 25-20 lead. Three straight three-pointers, with two by Isaiah Mike, then gave the Dukes a 31-22 advantage. Duquesne took its biggest lead of the half, 32-22, on a layup by Emile Blackman.
Saint Joseph’s countered with five in a row from Brown and Robinson to cut the deficit to 33-28, and went into halftime trailing, 35-28.
Blackman led Duquesne with 26 points and Isiaha Mike scored 11.
“It was about valuing possessions as we went deeper into the game. We actually used the fact that they were in foul trouble to shoot 81 percent in the second half. Our foul shooting actually made the difference. The zone defense had an impact because they did not make a three in the second half. They were just driving us,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “Call it the way it is. Karma has been against us and karma went our way. Their leading scorer missed two foul shots. I feel badly for him but I’m proud of Jai for stepping up and making those two.”
The Hawks will play in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Championship at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The entire tournament bracket will be announced later this evening after the final conference game.