PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/5/2016 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks fell victim to a late rally by the VCU Rams and had their seven game winning streak snapped losing 85 – 82 against the VCU Rams at the Hagan Arena. Saint Joseph’s held a 70 – 57 lead with seven minutes to play, but the Rams battled all the way back to take the lead on a layup by Mo Alie-Cox with just over a minute left. Rams guard JeQuan Lewis sealed it with two free throws with 16.2 seconds on the clock.
“The hurt is in giving away a home game,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli. “We didn’t finish it, trading three’s for one’s.”
The Hawks need to look no further than the foul line to explain the loss going 9 for 19 in the second half, and just 2 for 7 over the last 8 minutes of the game, something that will keep Coach Martelli awake all night.
“He might not be the only one,” said DeAndre’ Bembry.
“If I am going to be the leader, I have to make free throws,” said Bembry who was 4 of 9 from the free throw line. “If I made the ones I did miss, it would be a different story. A few of us missed free throws and that was the key to the game.”
“We were 9 for 19 at the foul line in the second half, it’s a game of numbers,” Martelli said.
Saint Joe’s trailed by three points at halftime, then took control of the game starting the second half scoring the first thirteen points to garner a 48 – 38 lead. The Rams (10 – 5, 2 – 0), much like in the first half, chipped away at the lead cutting it to 61 – 55 with just under 10 minutes to play. Miles hit back-to-back dagger three’s to stretch the lead back to 12 points at 67 – 55 at the 8:12 mark. It looked like the Hawks may have taken control at that point.
“At that moment I did, but they were answering a lot of my three’s,” said Miles who led Saint Joe’s with a game-high 31 points and made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. “I knew there was a lot of basketball to play after that and they have a lot of good shooters.”
Melvin Johnson was one of those who led the Rams in scoring with 25 points and made 5 from distance. Alie-Cox finished with 14 points, eight of those coming in the succession over the last three minutes. Lewis added 19 points.
Bembry scored 17 for the Hawks and handed out a game-best 8 assists tying his season high. James Demery added 11 points. Miles pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds.
The Hawks (11 – 3, 1 – 1) prepare for a Sunday home game against Rhode Island. The feeling by the players is that it is time to start a new winning streak.
“Absolutely,” said Miles. “Players have to have a short memory, you can’t sit on this one because it could affect the next game. Let’s go out and beat those guys and start a new streak.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian