Phil Martelli will no longer have to deal with questions regarding the possibility of the Saint Joseph's Hawks missing the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
That's because Saint Joseph's (17-11, 8-7 Atlantic 10) took care of business on Wednesday night as they dominated the Rhode Island Rams (8-20, 3-12 A-10) by a score of 81-44 at Hagan Arena on Senior Night. The 37-point margin of victory was the largest for the Hawks this season.
Martelli was clearly irritated by the media recently, with the long-time Saint Joseph's coach claiming they have been covering the Hawks in a "negative tone" of late by pointing out that Saint Joseph's had not officially clinched a spot in next week's A-10 Tournament.
Martelli even got one last shot in at the media on the issue, sarcastically wondering where the big celebration was after the Hawks clinched an A-10 Tournament spot because everyone was so worried they may miss out on the trip to Brooklyn.
Not only have the Hawks clinched a spot in next week's conference tournament taking place at the Barclays Center, but they may be playing their best basketball of the season if their last two performances are any indication.
After a sloppy first five minutes where the Hawks trailed 4-2, Saint Joseph's took control of the game by increasing the tempo offensively.
The Hawks were able to take advantage of the Rams in transition on several occasions, leading to open three-point looks which the Hawks were able to knock down. The Hawks went on a 10-2 run with three-pointers from C.J. Aiken and Langston Galloway putting Saint Joseph's up 14-8.
Saint Joseph's continued to be very efficient in the rest of the first half as all eight players who saw action in the first half scored for the home team, with the Hawks taking a 39-20 lead into the locker room.
Things didn't change much in the second half, as Rhode Island never sustained any sort of rally. Saint Joseph's led by at least 16 points during the entire second half and eventually turned the game into a rout.
Ronald Roberts was dominant in the early part of the second half, scoring a quick nine points within the first five minutes of the half on his way to his 13th double-double of the season as he netted 13 points while corralling 11 rebounds in the victory.
The Hawks were able to empty their bench quite early, with senior guard Carl "Tay" Jones leaving the floor with about five minutes to play, while being serenaded by the rather small crowd with chants of "All Day Tay" as the senior guard left the floor on Senior Night. Jones finished with 10 points on the evening.
Saint Joseph's was able to get their other seniors into the game late on as Taylor Trevisan and Christopher Coyne both saw action late on, with Trevisan scoring a career-high five points in his four minutes of game action.
Going into the final minute, an Isaiah Miles three-pointer insured that Saint Joseph's would become only the third team to score 80 points against Rhode Island this season.
Saint Joseph's was led in scoring by Aiken's 15 points off of the bench, while Chris Wilson was also a key bench contributor as he scored 11 points while dishing out six assists in an effective 27 minutes of play.
Aiken was back in action after missing Saturday's win over Fordham with a back injury, but he came off of the bench instead of serving in his customary starting role, with Daryus Quarles taking his place in the starting lineup for the second straight game.
"Our bench in the first half made a big, big difference in the way we were able to get a spread," Martelli said after the win.
Depending on other results, Saint Joseph's can finish as high as sixth place in the conference if they are able to knock off Charlotte in their final game of the regular season, along with one loss from Xavier and two losses from Massachusetts in their final two conference games.
"In the second half I was really pleased, we played the right way," Martelli said before adding, "I'm going to emphasize to these guys that they're going to want to go into Brooklyn continuing to play better."
Saint Joseph's will look to notch just their second three-game winning streak of the season as they head into the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Tip-off for Saturday night's game at Charlotte is slated for 7 p.m.