Second-half surge leads Hawks past Flyers

Entering Wednesday evening's game with Dayton, the Saint Joseph's Hawks had dropped five of seven games. They were coming off a difficult loss to Penn. Dayton, on the other hand, had just drubbed rival Xavier. The Flyers, sitting atop the Atlantic 10 standings, held a five point leading going into the half and looked poised for their fifth A10 win.

Then the Saint Joseph's frontcourt happened. Sophomore posts C.J. Aiken and Ron Roberts happened. Saint Joseph's, who entered the second half down 32-27, outscored the Flyers 50-31 in half two en route to a convincing 77-63 win at a frenzied Hagan Arena.

Ron Roberts, who finished with a career-high 27 points, had Saint Joseph's final 15 points. Just let that marinate for a moment. And they were not all highlight-reel dunks, although one windmill and-one dunk over Matt Kavanaugh certainly was. Roberts scored in close. He knocked down a fade-away jumper with the shot-clock running down. He knocked down his free throws. Against a solid Dayton frontcourt, Roberts had his way.

While Roberts provided the offensive outburst, he was certainly aided by classmate CJ Aiken, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Aiken finished the game with 5 blocks, officially. The number of shots altered, and simply not taken, brings that number easily into double-digits however.

The frontcourt trio of Roberts, Aiken, and Halil Kanacevic tallied 54 of the Hawks' 77 points. On a night where Langston Galloway finished with only 10 and Carl Jones only 8, it was the frontcourt that made the difference. Of Saint Joseph's 50 second-half points, Roberts, Aiken, and Kanacevic had 41. Of course, Roberts led the charge, but both Aiken and Kanacevic played pivotal roles in what was easily Saint Joseph's best half of basketball since 2011.

At the half, the Hawks trailed Dayton 32-27 following an uninspired half of basketball. Dayton was forced to sit stars Matt Kavanaugh and Kevin Dillard with foul trouble down the stretch in the first half. Despite that, Dayton entered the half with a five point lead that seemed much larger than that number.

Down 34-29 early in the second half, sophomore wing Daryus Quarles hit a rainbow three that pulled the Hawks within two. Six straight points by Roberts tied the game up at 43 all, and then it was off to the races. The Hawks went on a 15-3 run from there, punctuated by back-to-back threes by Aiken. That second three opened up a 58-46 lead for the Hawks with just over 9 minutes to go in the contest, and Saint Joseph's never looked back.

Wednesday's win brought Saint Joseph's to 3-3 in conference play and 13-8 on the year. It brings Saint Joseph's up to 54 in RPI according to RealTimeRPI.com.

The Hawks have a date with Big 5 and Atlantic 10 rival Temple on Saturday on North Broad. The Owls are coming off a beat-down of Charlotte last night on the road and will certainly have the building rocking. The game is already sold out, and is the fourth sellout of the year at Temple.

Check back on Saturday morning for a gameday preview of the city rivalry game.

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