Langston Galloway

Langston Galloway

Atlantic 10 Tournament: Saint Joseph’s goes from bubble to champion with win over VCU

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It’s been quite the turn of events the past three days for Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks sat on the bubble as they made their way to Brooklyn. For the third time in three days St. Joe’s prevailed, winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship with a 65-61 win over No. 23 VCU.

St. Joe’s (24-9, 11-5 A10) is rolling into the NCAA tournament with some serious momentum, made more notable since earlier in March the Hawks had dropped back-to-back games to George Washington and La Salle. Phil Martelli’s team entered the afternoon as a projected 10-seed in Dave Ommen’s latest edition of Bracketology. The Hawks will likely slide up with a win over a ranked opponent and becoming the A10 champs.

The Hawks have been tested this week in Brooklyn. Dayton, another bubble team, could have ended St. Joe’s run on Friday, but Langston Galloway, who scored  20 of his 31 points in the first half, saved his biggest three points for last, lifting St. Joe’s to a 70-67 quarterfinal win. The next night it was Halil Kanacevic turn to carry the Hawks.

He dropped 26 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a semifinal win over St. Bonaventure, the eight-seed which knocked off top-ranked Saint Louis the previous afternoon. The only way the Bonnies would earn an NCAA bid is if they ran the table inside the Barclays Center.

No question St. Joe’s will be a tough out in next week’s tournament with its ability to get production out of Galloway on the perimeter and Kanacevic in the paint.

VCU, on the other hand, has lost for the first time in seven games. The Rams were without their top outside shooter Melvin Johnson. Without him, they missed 10 of their first 11 3-point attempts, ending the day 5-of-26 from behind the arc.

Both these teams are projected to be two of six bids for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Atlantic 10 Tournament: Langston Galloway’s three-pointer sends Saint Joseph’s to semifinal round (VIDEO)

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The second Atlantic 10 quarterfinal of the day was a pivotal one, with five-seed Dayton and four-seed Saint Joseph’s both looking to strengthen their case for inclusion in the NCAA tournament field. And unlike their last meeting, a 79-53 Hawk victory on February 25, their matchup in Brooklyn went right down to the wire.

Langston Galloway, who scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half, hit a three-pointer with 17.9 seconds remaining to give Saint Joseph’s a lead they would not relinquish. The Hawks won 70-67, advancing to Saturday’s semifinals where they’ll play nine-seed St. Bonaventure. Freshman DeAndre Bembry added 15 points and Ronald Roberts Jr. 11 for Saint Joseph’s, which ended a two-game losing streak with the win.

Dyshawn Pierre paced Dayton with 11 points, one of three Flyers to reach double figures on the afternoon. While much was made of the non-call on Galloway’s push off to gain separation for the game-winning shot, Dayton’s inability to slow down the senior guard in the first half didn’t help matters either.

Dayton is now left to play the “waiting game,” hoping that their overall resume and solid play down the stretch is enough to merit a spot in the NCAA tournament field.

Saint Joseph’s beats St. Bonaventure for sixth straight win (VIDEO)

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After falling 65-49 at Saint Louis on February 5 the Saint Joseph’s Hawks had a 5-3 record in Atlantic 10 play and the look of a team that while solid would not be a contender for the conference title. Since that defeat the Hawks have won six straight games, with the most recent result being an 83-74 win at St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon. And with Saint Louis’ loss at VCU, Phil Martelli’s team is just a game out of first place with two games left to play.

Saint Joseph’s shot 54% from the field and 21-for-24 from the foul line, with their proficiency from the charity stripe and from two (70.3% shooting on two-pointers) helping the Hawks win despite committing 16 turnovers. Langston Galloway led four Hawks in double figures with 27 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists, with freshman DeAndre Bembry adding 18 and Ronald Roberts Jr. 15.

Matthew Wright led four Bonnies in double figures with 18 points. Saint Joseph’s closes out the regular season with games against George Washington and Big 5 rival La Salle, and their Atlantic 10 title hopes remain intact.

How Langston Galloway reinvented his game

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Despite Langston Galloway’s scoring average (nearly 14 points per game) and perimeter scoring (39 percent from three) a year ago, the guard from Saint Joseph’s had an underwhelming junior season. His efficiency rating — 110.9 — was the lowest it had been during his three seasons on Hawk Hill, and with a large percentage of returning minutes remaining in 2014, there was an expectation of a bounce back senior season for Galloway.

So far, the guard hasn’t disappointed. He only scored seven points in SJU’s rout of Dayton tonight, but overall this season, Galloway has shouldered a larger role in the Hawks’ offense — his efficiency rating rivals that of his sophomore (and breakout) season — and his three-point shooting has reached a career-best percentage (44 percent). It was unclear what sort of season Galloway would have without Carl ‘Tay’ Jones, a guard who was proficient at breaking down and drawing help defenders before assisting Galloway on the perimeter, but the guard has completely retooled his game for his final year.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, Galloway has become a better spot-up shooter, scoring 1.4 points per spot up (as compared to 1.00 in 2013), and his perimeter accuracy has helped strengthen his overall game, specifically in pick and roll action. More than 20 percent of Galloway’s possession finish with a P&R possession, an significant uptick from his junior year (12 percent), and his decision making once he clears the pick is much improved, scoring more than one point when he dribbles into a jump shot. For much of his St. Joe’s career, Galloway was simply a shooter — a really good shooter, but somewhat of a one-dimensional player — but the guard transitioned this offseason into a scorer, the type of player who can score off the catch and the bounce. Galloway’s revised game is why the Hawks are one of the Atlantic 10’s best teams, and a squad that has enough resume padding to dance in the coming weeks.

Late Night Snacks: No turkey hangover for Villanova, Arizona

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GAME OF THE DAY: Villanova 63, No. 2 Kansas 59

In a day full of great games, Villanova knocking off No. 2 and previously undefeated Kansas takes the cake. The game was hardly pretty, but that doesn’t much matter to Jay Wright. In fact, it seemed like Wright’s game plan against Kansas was to play in the mud — a physical, grind-it-out kind of battle. Ryan Arcidiacono hit only one shot all night, but it was a critical one as his three-pointer from the corner put Villanova on top 61-59 with ten seconds remaining.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) All five of Arizona’s starters scored in double figures as the Wildcats handed Duke their second loss of the season in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Aaron Gordon filled up the box score with ten points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and showed why he is in the same class as the other top freshmen across the country.

2) San Diego State acquitted themselves well when they played Arizona earlier this month — a 69-60 loss at home — but they confirmed they are a true contender in the Mountain West with an 86-80 victory over Creighton. There’s no doubting just how good Doug McDermott and the Creighton offense are, but their defense leaves much to be desired. Spotting the Aztecs a 19 point lead in the second half was too deep a hole to climb out of in the end.

3) It took three overtimes and delayed the start of the marquee game of the day between Arizona and Duke, but Drexel outlasted Alabama 85-83. The Dragons are now 4-2 with a good win over Alabama, and strong showings against UCLA and Arizona, despite both being losses. Chris Fouch was an absolute warrior today playing 54 minutes and willing Drexel’s way to the win. Bruiser Flint has a good group who will challenge for the CAA title.

STARRED

1) Mercer’s Jakob Gollon had a day. The senior forward entered Friday’s game against Valparaiso averaging 6.4 points, but exploded for 37 points in the Bears’ triple overtime win over Valpo. Dropping 37 points on 17 shots is remarkably efficient. To go along with the scoring effort, Gollon also dished out seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds.

2) There may not be another player in the country whose team missed him as much last season as Penn State did with Tim Frazier. Frazier demonstrated just how important he is to the Nittany Lions as he propelled his team to an overtime victory over St. John’s going off for 29 points. He didn’t shoot particularly well — just 5-14 from the field — but he got to the free throw line 20 times, making 17 of his attempts.

3) Langston Galloway filled up the stat sheet in a big way for St. Joseph’s in a 78-66 win over Siena. The senior guard poured in 27 points (6-10 3PT), had seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals.

STRUGGLED

1) It was a bad time for Southern Mississippi to play Louisville as this was the Cardinals first game following their loss to North Carolina. The Golden Eagles, who entered the game 6-0 and are one of the top teams in Conference USA, scored just 13 first half points and shot 29% as a team for the game en route to a 69-38 loss.

2) The transition to Division 1 hasn’t been a pleasant one thus far for Abilene Christian. Entering tonight they were 2-6 with their only wins coming against sub-D1 teams, and five of the losses being blowouts. Tonight, they suffered their seventh loss of the season to West Alabama, a sub-D1 team.

3) Chris Bolden has had a rough start to the season. He was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules, and since he has rejoined the team he has been less than stellar shooting a combined 7-34 in four games. Against Mississippi, a 77-67 loss, Bolden was 1-8 from the field. Bolden will need to be better if Georgia Tech has any chance at have a good season.

NOTABLES

  • Missouri moved to 7-0 with an 83-70 win over Nevada. Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross, and Jordan Clarkson did nearly all the scoring as they combined for 73 points.
  • Tennessee bounced back with a 64-49 win over Xavier a day after losing to UTEP.
  • No. 5 Oklahoma State had a 44-30 halftime lead over Butler, but nearly gave it away in the second half. They ended up winning 69-67 and will meet No. 21 Memphis in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic.
  • Behind 19 points off the bench from Anthony Gill, Virginia defeated SMU, 76-73.
  • Cincinnati moved to 6-0 with a win over Kennesaw State, but the Bearcats’ schedule has been hardly challenging to date.
  • Denver lost to Pepperdine in the Great Alaska Shootout to move to 0-4. A tough start for a team looking to challenge for the Summit title.
  • Penn State earned a good win over St. John’s in overtime 89-82 at the Barclays Classic.
  • No. 15 Florida slipped by in-state rival Florida State, 67-66.
  • It wasn’t easy, but Texas squeaked past Texas-Arlington, who was 2-5 entering the game, 72-69.
  • In their first game playing without point guard Cody Doolin, San Francisco beat Vermont, 72-61.
  • Harvard beat Green Bay to advance to the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout where they will meet TCU.