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.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 20 Duke wins at UNC, No. 3 Oklahoma falls

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke 74, No. 5 North Carolina 73

Duke, already shorthanded, lost Matt Jones in the first half to a left ankle injury and they couldn’t slow down Brice Johnson either. But they continued to fight, ultimately winning on two Grayson Allen free throws with 1:09 remaining. To say the least North Carolina’s execution down the stretch left much to be desired, as Johnson’s last shot attempt came with just under five minutes left in the game. He finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds, while Allen led Duke with 23 points and seven boards and Brandon Ingram added 20 and ten.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Penn State 79, No. 4 Iowa 75: Within a two-week period the Nittany Lions have knocked off two of the three teams tied atop the Big Ten standings in the loss column (No. 22 Indiana being the other). Donovon Jack scored 19 points and Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner 18 each for the Nittany Lions, who won despite Peter Jok scoring 28 points and Jarrod Uthoff 19.

Saint Joseph’s 79, No. 15 Dayton 70: Phil Martelli’s Hawks picked up a big win, as they ended Dayton’s nine-game win streak to force a three-way tie atop the Atlantic 10. DeAndré Bembry led five Hawks in double figures with 16 points while also grabbing 13 rebounds, and it was the combination of their offensive balance and solid defense that won the game for Saint Joseph’s.

BUBBLE BANTER: Wednesday’s key results

Texas Tech 65, No. 3 Oklahoma 63: The Red Raiders picked up their third straight win over a ranked opponent, holding off the Sooners in Lubbock. Aaron Ross scored 17 points and Keenan Evans 14 for the Red Raiders, who limited Buddy Hield to 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Jordan Woodard led Oklahoma with 25 points, but with everyone else struggling it wasn’t enough.

No. 8 Xavier 85, No. 23 Providence 74: The Friars lost for the fourth time in their last five games Wednesday, falling by nine in a game that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe. Myles Davis posted his first career triple-double (11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists), Trevon Bluiett scored 23 points and Jalen Reynolds went for ten and 15 boards. Kris Dunn led the Friars with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but he also turned the ball over seven times on the night.

STARRED

Retin Obasohan, Alabama: 35 points, four rebounds and three assists in the Crimson Tide’s win at LSU, shooting 11-for-18 from the field and 11-for-11 from the foul line.

Myles Davis, Xavier: Davis posted a triple-double, going for 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Musketeers to a comfortable win over No. 23 Providence.

Brice Johnson, North Carolina: Johnson finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds. Why he didn’t get more touches down the stretch in their loss to No. 20 Duke is something that will be discussed for quite some time.

STRUGGLED

Eli Carter, Boston College: Carter had a miserable night at Clemson, shooting 1-for-17 from the field in the 64-55 loss. He finished with five points and six assists.

Marcus Paige and Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Paige and Berry combined to shoot 4-for-22 from the field in their loss to No. 20 Duke.

Starters not named Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Smith shot 5-for-12 from the field and scored 14 points in the Sycamores’ 78-50 loss at Illinois State. The other four starters combined to score ten points on 3-for-25 shooting.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Top-ranked Villanova won for the 15th time in their last 16 games, as they beat Temple 83-67 at the Liacouras Center. Jalen Brunson, whose father played at Temple, scored 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field as the Wildcats won the Big 5 title outright.
  • No. 11 Miami got going in the second half as they beat Virginia Tech 65-49. Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes outscored the Hokies 44-27 in the second half.
  • No. 12 Arizona steamrolled rival Arizona State, beating the Sun Devils 99-61 in Tucson. Allonzo Trier scored 20 points, and the Wildcats scored 52 points in the paint.
  • No. 18 Louisville rebounded from a slow start and blitzed Syracuse in the second half, beating the Orange 72-58. Damion Lee scored 15 points and Chinanu Onuaku added 13 points and 15 boards for the Cardinals.
  • No. 22 Indiana rebounded from its loss at Michigan State by taking care of business at home, beating Nebraska 80-64. Troy Williams led four Hoosiers in double figures with 18 points on the night.

OTHER NOTABLE OUTCOMES

  • Clemson, which is looking to play its way back into the NCAA tournament discussion, avoided a bad loss by beating Boston College 64-55.
  • St. Bonaventure’s hopes of getting into the bubble conversation took a major hit, as they lost 71-64 at La Salle. The Bonnies are now two games out of first in the Atlantic 10 as a result of this loss.
  • Stony Brook’s 18-game win streak came to an end as they were beaten soundly at Albany, 82-70. The Great Danes sent double teams at Jameel Warney all night long, which helped them limit the Seawolves to less than 40 percent shooting.
  • Bucknell retained sole possession of first place in the Patriot League with an 87-52 win over Loyola (MD). Trailing the Bison by a game are Lehigh, which beat Navy 77-74 on the road, and Boston University (71-68 win over Colgate).
  • Seton Hall continued its run towards an NCAA tournament bid with a 72-64 win over Georgetown. Isaiah Whitehead scored 22 points, Khadeen Carrington 18 and Desi Rodriguez 17 for the Pirates.
  • Alabama picked up a nice win on the road, as they beat LSU 76-69. Retin Obasohan, who’s been one of the best guards in the SEC this season, scored a career-high 35 in the win.
  • Chris Mullin picked up his first conference win as head coach at St. John’s, as the Red Storm beat DePaul 80-65. The Red Storm had lost 16 straight games before tonight.
  • Trailing by 15 with 6:01 remaining, New Mexico close the game on a 19-2 run as they beat Boise State 80-78. Elijah Brown scored 26 points and Tim Williams 18 for the Lobos, who are now in sole possession of second place in the Mountain West.
  • USC came back from a 15-point deficit to beat Colorado 79-72, moving to 15-0 at the Galen Center this season. Julian Jacobs, who sparked the run, scored 17 points and Jordan McLaughlin finished with 25 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.

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

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.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: No. 20 Duke visits No. 5 North Carolina

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina, 9:00 p.m.

This choice is a simple one, with one of the best rivalries in all of sports taking place. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have won four straight games, with their defensive improvements being a key reason why (our Rob Dauster has more on that here). Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have led the way offensively for Duke, but getting stops will be key for them not just tonight but in March as well. How well Duke fares on the defensive glass against the bigger Tar Heels will be a key, but UNC has its own questions to address.

The biggest: how engaged will Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson be? Johnson made his way into the ACC POY conversation and Jackson saved the Heels at Boston College, but both have to bring consistent effort for Roy Williams’ team to reach its full potential. North Carolina played well in its win over Pittsburgh Sunday, but can they build on that momentum?

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 15 Dayton at Saint Joseph’s, 6:00 p.m.

There are two big games in Philadelphia tonight (more on the other one below), and this one will have a major impact not only on the Atlantic 10 race but on NCAA tournament profiles as well. Archie Miller’s Flyers are well positioned to land a good seed next month, and a win here would keep Dayton (who’s won nine straight) alone atop the A-10 standings. Dyshawn Pierre’s return has been key, but the contributions of Charles Cooke III and Scoochie Smith should not be overlooked either. Saint Joseph’s will counter with the incredibly versatile DeAndre Bembry and the A-10’s most improved player in forward Isaiah Miles, who’s been a key option in the front court for Phil Martelli’s Hawks.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 1 Villanova will step outside of Big East play as they visit Big 5 rival Temple (7:00 p.m.) in a critical game for the home team. Fran Dunphy’s Owls sit atop the American, and a win here would (barring a collapse) in all likelihood sew up an NCAA tournament bid. Villanova, on the other hand, is once again in the mix for a one-seed and can wrap up the outright Big 5 title with a win.

2. Unless Villanova falters down the stretch, No. 8 Xavier is the only team capable of chasing down the Wildcats in the Big East standings. The Musketeers, two games back, will need to avoid any losses if they’re to accomplish that beginning with their game against No. 23 Providence tonight (7:00 p.m.). The Friars lean upon the tandem of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they’ll need more against the deeper Musketeers.

3. One team that may not be receiving as much “bubble” chatter as they deserve is Alabama, which has won four straight including wins over Texas A&M and Florida. The Crimson Tide visit LSU tonight (9:00 p.m.), with both teams in a position where another quality win would help their cause. LSU won the first meeting by two points in Tuscaloosa, with Ben Simmons going for 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

4. After getting swept last weekend USC looks to get back on the right track with a win over Colorado (11:00 p.m.) in Los Angeles. Andy Enfield’s Trojans have yet to lose at home this season, and their offensive balance (six players averaging double figures) is one reason why. Colorado, which is also well positioned to reach the NCAA tournament, did not have Josh Scott (ankle) last week and his status for tonight has yet to be determined. That’s a key for the Buffs, given how good USC’s front court with the likes of Nikola Jovanovic, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu has been this year.

5. Texas Tech, which beat two ranked teams in Iowa State and Baylor last week, has another opportunity to get a marquee win as they host No. 3 Oklahoma. Keenan Evans is averaging more than 17 points per game over the last three for Tubby Smith’s Red Raiders, who can also call upon Devauntagh Williams and Toddrick Gotcher on the perimeter. Buddy Hield and company are looking to rebound from their loss to No. 2 Kansas, but that won’t be easy to do in Lubbock.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 4 Iowa at Penn State, 6:30 p.m.
  • Virginia Tech at No. 11 Miami, 9:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at No. 12 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at No. 18 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.
  • Nebraska at No. 22 Indiana, 8:30 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Stony Brook at Albany, 7:00 p.m.
  • George Washington at Duquesne, 7:00 p.m.
  • Seton Hall at Georgetown, 9:00 p.m.
  • Boise State at New Mexico, 10:00 p.m.

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.