Phil Martelli

Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli watches from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

PHOTO: Phil Martelli ‘re-labels’ Big 5 Coach of the Year award

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Monday night the Philadelphia Big 5 held its annual postseason awards dinner, an event in which La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova get together to honor the city’s best players and teams from the season. Among those honored at the dinner was St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, who after leading his team to an Atlantic 10 tournament title and the second round of the NCAA tournament was named Big 5 Coach of the Year.

However in receiving the honor Martelli made sure to show some respect to rival head coach Jay Wright, who led Villanova to a third straight Big East regular season title and the program’s second national title. Add in the fact that Villanova won the Big 5 for the third consecutive season.

So what did Martelli do with his trophy? He wrote “Jay Wright” on a Post-it note and applied it to the trophy.

VIDEO: Saint Joseph’s erases 16-point deficit, beats George Washington

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Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s and No. 5 seed George Washington was an important one for both teams, with the Hawks looking to sew up an NCAA tournament bid and the Colonials having work to do to get into the conversation. Mike Lonergan’s team led by as many as 16 points and appeared well on their way to an important résumé-boosting victory.

However DeAndre Bembry and the Hawks turned things around, rallying back for an 86-80 win over the Colonials. As a result Saint Joseph’s will play top seed Dayton in Saturday’s semifinals, and George Washington in all likelihood is now headed to the Postseason NIT.

Saint Joseph’s outscored George Washington 51-31 in the second half, with Bembry finishing the game with 21 points, Shavar Newkirk 19 and three other Hawks scoring in double figures as well. Joe McDonald led six Colonials in double figures with 15 points, and Kevin Larsen just missed out on a triple-double as he accounted for ten points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

VIDEO: Davidson drops Saint Joseph’s out of first place in Atlantic 10

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With No. 15 Dayton and Saint Joseph’s both losing Saturday afternoon, VCU has reclaimed sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10.

Saint Joseph’s suffered a 99-93 loss at Davidson, falling short down the stretch after navigating first-half foul trouble for start wing DeAndré Bembry. Bembry scored just two points in the first half as a result of two fouls committed less than eight minutes into the period, but thanks to Isaiah Miles the Hawks still managed to take a 48-43 halftime lead. Miles, who’s been one of the nation’s most improved players, scored 32 points on the afternoon.

But it wasn’t enough, as Davidson’s Jack Gibbs led all scorers with 35 points. Gibbs got going at around the same time that Bembry made his way to the bench, and from that point forward Saint Joseph’s had a hard time slowing him down. Gibbs shot 11-for-18 from the field and 8-for-9 from the foul line, with Nathan Ekwu adding 18 points and eight rebounds for Bob McKillop’s Wildcats.

Davidson won this game at the foul line, where they shot 29-for-38 and outscored Saint Joseph’s by 19 points. The Hawks shot better than 56 percent from the field, making 36 field goals to Davidson’s 30, but getting outscored from the foul line by as large of a margin as they did proved to be the one thing Saint Joseph’s could not overcome.

Saint Joseph’s ends No. 15 Dayton’s nine-game win streak

Saint Joseph's DeAndre Bembry (43) tries to control the ball as he splits Dayton's Kyle Davis (3) and Charles Cooke (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Entering Wednesday the Saint Joseph’s Hawks had an impressive record of 21-4, but they lacked the “signature” victory that the NCAA tournament selection committee tends to look for in its deliberations. That changed at Hagan Arena, as Phil Martelli’s Hawks beat No. 15 Dayton by the final score of 79-70. Saint Joseph’s did get the win their résumé lacked, but in beating the Flyers they also ended Dayton’s nine-game win streak and tightened the Atlantic 10 race considerably.

As a result of the Hawks’ win they’re now tied with Dayton atop the A-10 standings, with VCU also boasting an 11-2 league record and St. Bonaventure a game back in the loss column.

SJU has a headliner in junior wing DeAndré Bembry, a versatile player who’s developed into one of the Atlantic 10’s best players during his time on Hawk Hill. But unlike last season, when the supporting cast was inconsistent and often left Bembry carrying much of the load on his own, Martelli’s received contributions from a host of players in the rotation.

Wednesday night five Hawks scored in double figures, led by Bembry with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Aaron Brown with 14 points. And Bembry wasn’t the only Hawk to post a double-double, as Isaiah Miles added 12 points and 12 rebounds to go along with a team-high five assists. Miles, who averaged 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game a season ago, has been one of the most improved players in college basketball.

Entering Wednesday, Miles was leading Saint Joseph’s in both scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three. Miles’ progression from last season to this has changed the equation, not only for Saint Joseph’s but also for the opponents faced with the task of slowing him down.

Miles is only 6-foot-7 but the Hawks use him at the five, taking advantage of his ability to face up defenders and step out to the three-point line. Miles missed all seven of his three-point attempts against Dayton, but the mere threat of him being able to hit that shot is something defenses have to account for.

But even bigger than Saint Joseph’s offensive versatility on this night was their defense, as they limited Dayton to 41 percent shooting and 8-for-31 from beyond the arc. On the season Dayton, while a good three-point shooting team, scores just over 28 percent of its points from three. Against the Hawks they settled for those looks too often, and some credit should be given to the defense for that.

Dayton, which is still without injured forward Kendall Pollard, will be fine moving forward and could end up winning the A-10 anyway. But this result was about Saint Joseph’s, a team that has looked the part of an NCAA tournament team for much of this season but lacked that “signature” win to back it up. Wednesday night, the Hawks took care of that issue.

VIDEO: Bembry, Brown lead Saint Joseph’s past Rhode Island

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The first game of NBC Sports Network’s Atlantic 10 triple-header matched two teams with aspirations of contending for the conference title in Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s. At Hagan Arena it was the host Hawks who moved to 2-1 in conference play, with DeAndre Bembry and Aaron Brown leading the way offensively in the 72-67 victory.

Bembry played all 40 minutes for Phil Martelli’s team, finishing with a game-high 22 points along with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior Aaron Brown added 19 points, shooting 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, and classmate Isaiah Miles scored ten points for the 12-3 Hawks.

Hassan Martin led three Rams in double figures with 20 points to go along with eight rebounds, but URI’s 16 turnovers were converted into 21 points by Saint Joseph’s.

Phil Martelli’s grandson steals the show at postgame press conference (VIDEO)

Phil Martelli
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Last March young Phillip Martelli, the grandson of Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, became one of the young stars of college basketball thanks to his mimicking his grandfather’s every move on the sidelines from his seat in the stands. Phillip also joins his grandfather at postgame press conferences on occasion, as was the case Monday night following the Hawks’ 52-49 win over Drexel.

Above is video of Phil and Phillip Martelli at the press conference, which was shot by James Hill of Philahoops.com.