Despite a tremendous 22-point, 8-assist performance by freshman swingman DeAndre Bembry, St. Joe's fell 76-71 at George Washington on Wednesday. The loss dropped the Hawks to 21-7 on the year, and 11-4 in Atlantic 10 play.
The Hawks held a 54-45 lead over the Colonials mid-way through the second half when Halil Kanacevic was whistled for his fourth foul, and DeAndre Bembry was whistled for a technical foul for his reaction to the foul call.
Foul trouble was a major factor in Wednesday's loss. Kanacevic was limited to just 13 minutes of action due to foul trouble. The Hawks were whistled for 22 fouls compared to 15 for the Colonials. Officiating was a major factor in the game's outcome, and Hawk head coach Phil Martelli spoke on it post-game.
Martelli said, per Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Marc Narducci, "We are the third-fewest fouling team in America and they shot 24 foul shots in the second half. He will want his name in the paper. His name is Jamie Luckie. He was the referee."
The Hawks still had opportunities to gut out a win. However, a poor shooting night out of Langston Galloway (3-13 from the field) and poor free-throw shooting as a team (13-22) made a late comeback impossible.
The Colonials were led by senior shooting guard Maurice Creek's 20 points. Point guard Joe McDonald also poured in 18 points for Coach Lonergan.
St. Joe's remains in control of their destiny, however. A win on Sunday against La Salle would secure a 2-seed in the forthcoming Atlantic 10 tournament. A win Sunday would also likely secure an at-large bid for the Hawks. Despite the loss last night, St. Joe's didn't suffer much of an RPI hit. They are hovering right around 35, only one spot lower than they were entering the contest.
Both ESPN and CBS updated their mock brackets this morning, and both still include the Hawks. CBS' Jerry Palm has the Hawks in as a 10-seed, while ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Hawks slotted as an 11.
Sunday's 4 pm tip against La Salle will be a defining moment for this group of seniors. It is Senior Day for Langston Galloway, Ron Roberts, Halil Kanacevic, and Daryus Quarles. On Senior Day, this group, one that has never made the NCAA Tournament, can essentially punch their ticket to March Madness.
At 21-7, the Hawks have Sunday's regular-season finale against La Salle remaining, and then the Atlantic 10 tournament. A win locks up the two-seed there and earns the Hawks a double-bye. Their first game would be in the quarterfinal round.
With just over a week until Selection Sunday, this St. Joe's team has put together an impressive resume. We will look at that resume tomorrow, as well as offering up a preview of La Salle.
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