Win over VCU gives St. Joe's at-large hopes a boost

Posted: February 11, 2014

FOR THE second consecutive Saturday, Saint Joseph's had an Atlantic 10 opponent in its gym that possessed a better record. Just like the week before against Massachusetts, SJU got control of the game in the second half, almost let it get away and then won in the final moments.

This time, it was St. Joe's 69, VCU 62, a win that could resonate on Selection Sunday if the Hawks keep winning from here to the finish line.

SJU (16-7, 6-3 A-10) led the last 32 minutes of the game and seemed home when it led 63-50 with 6 minutes left. Three minutes later, the Hawks led 63-60. VCU (19-5, 7-2) is nothing if not relentless.

The Hawks had a brilliant plan against the Havoc pressure, spreading the court, passing ahead, using freshman DeAndre Bembry as a ballhandler and senior Halil Kanacevic as an outlet. SJU had just 12 turnovers against a team that forces nearly 20 per game.

Senior Langston Galloway was terrific for the Hawks, scoring 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Bembry had 18 points. Kanacevic filled up the stat sheet across the board - seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, two blocks.

You never know what might have happened, but SJU got a huge break on a block/charge call with 33 seconds left. Trailing by three, VCU's Treveon Graham was clearly into his shooting motion when Kanacevic stepped in front of him, creating contact. Official Bill McCarthy called a charge. By rule this season, that has to be a block. St. Joe's was not complaining. They took the call, made the free throws and won the game.

The Hawks have seven regular-season games left, starting at La Salle Saturday and ending with La Salle at home on the final day of the regular season. There really is no way to know how many wins it will take to get them into NCAA consideration because the at-large pool is a moving target. So, the Hawks just need to win as many as possible and see where they are heading to the A-10 Tournament.

Near miss for La Salle

Last season, La Salle won six games on a final possession. This season hasn't been like that.

The Explorers played well enough to beat No. 13 Saint Louis at Gola Arena. They just didn't.

It came down to a final possession. La Salle's Tyreek Duren had hit tying shots on consecutive possessions. But Jordair Jett had the ball for the Billikens with the shot clock off. Everybody in the gym knew what was going to happen. Jett, fast, fearless and really strong, was going to drive the ball and he was going to finish at the rim. That is exactly what went down, Jett hitting the game-winner.

Saint Louis won it, 65-63. It was the Billikens' 16th straight win. They are 9-0 on the road.

The Billikens (22-2, 9-0 A-10) got 25 from Jett, 19 in the second half when he was unstoppable. La Salle (12-11, 4-5) got 21 points and eight rebounds from Jerrell Wright, another double-double from Steve Zack (15 points, 13 rebounds) and the usual clutch play from Duren.

It would have been enough against most teams, but Saint Louis is clearly the best in the A-10. La Salle trailed 61-54 with 3 1/2 minutes left and scored the next seven points. A lesser team might have wilted. Saint Louis does not wilt.

Penn sweeps Ivy weekend

Penn led the last 35 minutes against Columbia at the Palestra, winning, 68-60. Like Friday night against Cornell, Penn won the game in the first half, shooting 68.2 percent. Fran Dougherty was 8-for-8 in the half and had 19 points. He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

The Quakers (6-13, 3-2 Ivy) actually got back in the Ivy race by beating the Lions (14-9, 3-3) when Yale went to Harvard and upset the Crimson. They will find out if they are contenders next weekend when they go to Yale and Brown, both of which are just ahead of Penn in the standings.

Drexel makes shots, beats JMU

The Dragons commit the fewest turnovers in the country so when they shoot a high percentage from the floor, they are nearly impossible to beat. Drexel shot 29-for-53 (54.7 percent) against James Madison at the DAC and did not come close to getting beat, winning 78-60.

Drexel (13-10, 5-5 CAA) got 26 from Chris Fouch who was 5-for-10 from three and 16 points from Frantz Massenat. James Madison (8-16, 3-7) played without its leading scorer, Andre Nation, and could not keep up when the Dragons got on a roll in the second half.

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