Explorers play role of spoiler on Senior Day

On Sunday afternoon, St. Joe's dropped a critical contest at home to city rival La Salle. On Senior Day, the Hawks fell 71-63 to the Explorers in a game that would have locked up an NCAA tournament bid for the host Hawks. La Salle was led by senior point guard Tyreek Duren and junior forward Jerrell Wright.

The inside-outside combination of Duren and Wright simply proved to be too much for Phil Martelli's Saint Joseph's Hawks. Duren poured in 27, while the 6'8 Wright had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hawks were led by senior shooting guard Langston Galloway's 27 points. Fellow senior Ron Roberts chipped in 13 points and freshman swingman DeAndre Bembry had 15. Unfortunately for the Hawks, those three combined for 55 of the team's 63 points.

St. Joe's jumped out to an early 16-10 lead over the Explorers on a Galloway tripe at the 12:08 mark, and on the ensuing possession Bembry was fouled going at the rim. He missed both free throws, and that began the Hawks' unraveling. Over the half's final 12:08, La Salle went on a 23-7 run. St. Joe's went without a field goal over the final 7:56 of the half, and the Explorers held a commanding 33-23 lead at the half.

DeAndre Bembry nailed a three and scored on a slashing lay-in from the left wing as part of a 7-0 SJU run to start the second half. As that lay-in slipped through the net, pulling the Hawks within 33-30, the crowd at Hagan Arena came fully to life. Unfortunately, the Hawks could not capitalize on the home-court advantage.

Roberts and Bembry both missed two free throws, Wilson and Bembry missed threes, and before you could catch your breath, La Salle had retaken control of the game, and seized a 42-30 lead. La Salle responded to the Hawks' 7-0 run with a 9-0 run of their own.

St. Joe's made one more run, pulling within 47-42 on a Chris Wilson lay-in at the 10:21 mark. As they did all game though, the Explorers responded. Tyreek Duren hit 11-12 free throws over the game's final two minutes to secure the victory for the Explorers.

The Hawks turned the ball over 14 times and shot only 12-22 from the free throw line in the loss. La Salle, on the flip side, only turned it over 5 times and shot 25-31 from the line. Essentially nine extra possessions and 13 more points at the charity stripe were the game's storyline.

Halil Kanacevic battled foul trouble once again, and never got into the flow of the game. He and point guard Chris Wilson shot a combined 0-9 from three.

With the loss, the Hawks finish the 2013-3014 campaign at 21-9 (11-5). The Hawks are the four-seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament and will play at 2:30 on Friday afternoon. I will be rolling out content on the tournament, the NCAA tournament, and where the Hawks could fit into both pictures throughout the week.

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