WASHINGTON, D.C. 3/9/2018 – The fourth seeded Hawks of Saint Joseph’s advanced to the semifinal round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament with a convincing 68 – 49 win over the George Mason Patriots, the 5th seed. The Hawks will face top seeded Rhode Island in the Saturday semifinal. The Saint Joe’s players are looking for more games to play this season.
“It’s really important,” said forward James Demery. “We just take things one game at a time and stand confident to the things we know we are good at.”
During the regular season George Mason won each game at the buzzer. This game appeared to headed in a similar direction. But this time the Hawks kept the Patriots in tact on defense holding them to 29.5% shooting (18 of 61). The zone defense helped to take away layups, and that had an effect on the Mason three-point shooting making just 2 of 25.
“When that first one doesn’t go in, the next kid is a little bit tighter,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “There was a period when they drove the ball, drove the ball, drove the ball against the zone. When they had to take that big jumper the ball was a little bit heavy. That’s the nature of college basketball.”
Leading by one-point at halftime Saint Joseph’s took control in the second half with a 21 – 7 run that would give them a 52 – 36 lead with 9:18 on the clock negating another George Mason buzzer-beater victory that happened two times in the regular season.
SJU had four players score in double figures led by Nick Robinson who contributed 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. And some intangibles.
“He gives us a bit of everything on a team that needs a team that needs personality,” Martelli said about Robinson’s contributions.
Senior Shavar Newkirk scored 13 points and had a team-high 5 assists. Fellow senior James Demery scored 12 points and took down 7 rebounds. Freshman Taylor Funk recorded his first double-double of the year scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 boards.
Jaire Grayer posted 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Patriots, and Max Gonar contributed 10 points.
Saint Joseph’s has won seven of their last eight games, and defeated tomorrow’s opponent Rhode Island in the next to the last game of the season.
“Anybody that wants to say, what do you think they’re going to do about you beating them, it’s another day,” Martelli said. “All we want to do is play Sunday now.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian