Saint Joseph's strengthened their case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon as they notched their sixth consecutive victory, knocking off St. Bonaventure 83-74 at the Reilly Center in Olean, NY.
The Hawks overcame foul trouble and poor officiating to pick up an ultimate team victory with numerous players playing a key role.
Early on it was freshman DeAndre Bembry who did the scoring for the Hawks, as he scored eight of the first ten points for Saint Joseph's.
The Hawks would take an 18-11 lead with 11:50 to play in the first half on the heels of an 11-0 run which saw Langston Galloway can two three-pointers.
With Bembry and Halil Kanacevic on the bench with foul trouble late in the first half, Saint Joseph's (21-7, 11-3 Atlantic 10) got a big contribution off of the bench from Isaiah Miles, as he gave the Hawks good minutes, scoring six points in the first half as the Hawks went into the locker room with a 40-35 advantage.
Despite having all of their starters back on the floor, Saint Joseph's struggled early in the second half as St. Bonaventure (16-13, 6-9 A-10) used a 10-4 spurt to take a 45-44 lead via consecutive layups from Marquise Simmons.
Going into the under 16 minute media timeout, Kanacevic picked up his fourth foul, relegating him to the bench for the majority of the second half.
With Kanacevic on the bench, Saint Joseph's used a 7-0 run to re-take the lead as Galloway converted a traditional three-point play to give St. Joe's a 54-47 lead with 12:48 to play.
Galloway's three-point play started a stretch where the Hawks senior guard took the game over, scoring on the ensuing two possessions as well, including a three-pointer which put Saint Joseph's up 59-50 while prompting Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt to call a timeout.
St. Bonaventure closed to within four points on a couple of occasions late, but Saint Joseph's was able to seal the victory from the free throw line where the Hawks knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the final 100 seconds to win their 11th game in conference play.
Saint Joseph's overcame their typical struggles from the charity stripe to knock down 21-of-24 free throws in the victory.
Galloway led the Hawks with 27 points along with eight rebounds in one of the most determined efforts of his career. Saint Joseph's also had three other players score in double figures with Bembry finishing with 18 points, Ronald Roberts scoring 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field while Miles contributed 11 points.
Galloway also moved up another spot on the Saint Joseph's all-time scoring charts as he passed Carl "Tay" Jones for third place in scoring in program history.
Matthew Wright scored 27 points on Senior Night for St. Bonaventure in the loss as the senior guard played all 40 minutes.
With Saint Louis losing their second straight game in A-10 play on Saturday night against VCU, Saint Joseph's has pulled to within one game of the Billikens for first place in the Atlantic 10. However, Saint Louis holds the tiebreaker over Saint Joseph's by virtue of their 65-49 win over the Hawks at Hagan Arena in early February.
Saint Joseph's will continue their quest towards an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night as they will face George Washington at the Smith Center in Washington D.C. with tip-off scheduled for 9 p.m in the nation's capital.
Saint Joseph's has won three straight over the Colonials, including a 71-59 win against George Washington at Hagan Arena in their most recent match-up last February.