In what was the de facto opening round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team held on in a nail-biter in Charlotte. The Hawks (9-21, 4-12 A-10), who entered the game with a one-game lead on Charlotte (10-20, 2-14 A-10) in the conference standings, won by a count of 71-70 after relinquishing a nine-point, second-half lead.
Langston Galloway, ’14, tied his career high with 27 points on 8-11 shooting (6-7 from three-point range). Galloway sunk one of two free throws with four seconds left in the game to give the Hawks the advantage. It became the winning margin once a three-pointer from 49er Derrio Green, who had hit a three with 12 seconds left to tie the game, went awry.
With the win, the Hawks clinched the 12th and final spot in next week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament. After opening the conference season with eight straight losses (nine straight when including a loss to Big-Five Rival Penn), St. Joe’s managed to finish 4-4 in its last eight games to prolong its season. Charlotte, the only conference team to knock off A-10 champ Xavier this year, lost eight games in a row to finish the season.
Aiding the effort today was Carl Jones, ’13, who tallied 19 points and six assists. Idris Hilliard, ’11, playing in what would have been his last college game had the Hawks lost, scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Galloway has undoubtedly been the catalyst of this late-season surge. The freshman from Baton Rouge scored 25 or more points in each of the Hawks’ four wins. The first of these performances came against UMass in St. Joe’s first win of 2011. Galloway tallied 25 points to lead the Hawks to a three-point win while backcourt mate and leading scorer Jones (17 ppg) sat on the bench with a sprained ankle.
With the win, the Hawks, who are the 12th and final team to make the A-10 field for the second straight year, will square off with fifth-seeded George Washington on March 8. St. Joe’s will travel to Washington, D.C. to play the Colonials on their home floor. In a new tournament set-up this year, all first round games are played on the home floor of the higher-seeded team. Should the Hawks win, they would travel to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the remainder of the tournament. The first match-up would be with fourth-seeded Duquesne, who earned a first-round bye.
In their only meeting this year, George Washington (17-13, 10-6 A-10) dispatched St. Joe’s 78-71 at Hagan Arena on Jan. 8. The Colonials had five players in double figures, led by guard Tony Taylor’s 20 points. The Hawks, meanwhile, were paced by Jones’ 23 points. C.J. Aiken, ’14, scored 15 points, and Galloway and Hilliard dropped 10 apiece.
Tuesday’s game with George Washington will tip off at 7 p.m. It can be seen on television on CBS-College Sports.