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Kanacevic carries Saint Joseph's to Atlantic 10 title game

Halil Kanacevic and Langston Galloway were the two key figures for Saint Joseph's in their 67-48 Atlantic 10 semifinal win over St. Bonaventure.
Halil Kanacevic and Langston Galloway were the two key figures for Saint Joseph's in their 67-48 Atlantic 10 semifinal win over St. Bonaventure.
Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Another Saint Joseph's senior carried the load for the Hawks in an Atlantic 10 Tournament contest at the Barclays Center.

This time for the Hawks it was Halil Kanacevic who had an outstanding game with a game-high 26 points and 17 rebounds in the best performance of the senior's career as Saint Joseph's (23-9) grinded its way to a 67-48 victory over St. Bonaventure (18-15) in an Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinal match-up.

The Hawks make their way to an Atlantic 10 Championship final for the first time since 2008, where they lost to Temple. The Hawks will also hear their name called on Selection Sunday for the first time in six years.

It was not the best start for Saint Joseph's though as the Bonnies started the stronger team and used a 17-5 run to take a 19-10 advantage with 11:07 left in the first half after a three-pointer by Charlon Kloof.

The Hawks sloppiness helped contribute to the Bonnies early game success as the Hawks committed ten turnovers in the opening half.

Saint Joseph's methodically worked their way back into the game and went into the locker room with the score tied at 29 and Kanacevic was a big reason why.

Kanacevic scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to notch a double-double in the first half as he continually was able to get to the rim and draw fouls.

In contrast to the first meeting between the two teams, this game was played at a grinding, slow pace as both teams struggled for baskets on the offensive end.

Saint Joseph's eventually pulled away during the second half as a combination of Kanacevic along with yesterday's hero Langston Galloway continued to get to the rim and score and a lay-up from Galloway gave the Hawks a 46-33 lead with eleven minutes to play.

After a St. Bonaventure switch to the 1-3-1 zone gave the Hawks problems on consecutive possessions, the Hawks were able to gash the Bonnies zone, setting up Galloway for a wide-open look from three-point range which he drained, putting the Hawks up 49-38.

Saint Joseph's impressed on the defensive end, particularly in the second half as St. Bonaventure shot a lowly 25.4 percent from the field for the game, including 2-for-15 from three-point range.

"It was our defensive performance (which won us the game)," Martelli said, "we got a great, great effort from DeAndre Bembry, he shut down Matthew Wright."

Kanacevic drove to the bucket for a slam dunk which gave Saint Joseph's a 61-42 lead with under four minutes to play, basically putting the game beyond doubt while prompting Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt to call a timeout.

With 97 seconds remaining, Phil Martelli emptied his bench, allowing his impressive Hawks to get a curtain call from the Saint Joseph's fans who made the train ride to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to cheer on their Hawks.

In addition to Kanacevic's herculean effort, Galloway also scored in double-figures, finishing with 18 points and showing his new-found desire for getting to the basket as he had three impressive lay-ups off of drives in the second half. Ronald Roberts also finished in double figures for the Hawks with 12 points along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Kloof was the only double-figure scorer for the Bonnies with ten points, who had nine different players score in the contest.

Saint Joseph's will look to win their first Atlantic 10 Championship final since 1997 on Sunday afternoon with tip-off slated for 1 p.m. against VCU, who knocked off George Washington 74-55 in the second semifinal of the afternoon.

When asked what his Hawks would need to do to win the A-10 Final, Martelli stated that Saint Joseph's would need to “play with a lot of energy and not turn the ball over.”

It will be the third game in three days for the Hawks, but with a championship on the line, it doesn't seem as if fatigue will be a factor.

"We're going to play hard, feel the energy, we really want to win a championship," Roberts said. "Since we've been here we've never been this close, so we've got to seize the moment tomorrow."

Saint Joseph's beat VCU at Hagan Arena in their only match-up of the season back in early February. The two teams also faced off against each other in last season's Atlantic 10 Tournament in the quarterfinals with VCU coming away with a victory by three points.

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