In a match-up between two teams firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Saint Joseph's showed a national audience their credentials for the "Big Dance" as the Hawks throttled Dayton, defeating the Flyers 79-53 on Tuesday evening at Hagan Arena.
Dayton had won six straight games since falling to Saint Joseph's after Langston Galloway's bank-shot game-winning three-pointer in the previous battle between the teams, but there would be no such drama on this night.
Saint Joseph's (20-7, 10-3 Atlantic 10) never trailed in the game as they started out by scoring the first eight points of the contest.
The first half was dominated by Chris Wilson and Ronald Roberts as the pair outscored Dayton 22-20 over the course of the opening half as Saint Joseph's exhibited total control.
Saint Joseph's was the much stronger team throughout the game on both ends of the floor, as Roberts along with frontcourt mate Halil Kanacevic combined to block six shots, stamping their authority on the game from the opening tip on the defensive end.
The contributions came from everywhere for the Hawks in the first half as Papa Ndao came off the bench and knocked down two three-pointers in the first half to help extend the Saint Joseph's lead to 19. Saint Joseph's went into the locker room with a 39-20 advantage.
Saint Joseph's kept their foot on the throat of the Flyers in the second half, extending their already large lead. Wilson had a career-night as he finished with a career-high 20 points on a perfect night of shooting. Wilson made all eight of his field goal attempts, including a trio of trifectas, with his third make from long-range giving Saint Joseph's a 60-35 lead with 12:14 to play.
Roberts, however, would bring the house down with a pair of unbelievable throw-downs worthy of inclusion on any highlight reel. Roberts threw down an emphatic two-hand slam over Dayton's Devin Scott, throwing Hagan Arena into a frenzy as Saint Joseph's extended their lead to 66-37.
Less than three minutes later, Roberts made an acrobatic play to manage a throw-down from outside of the lane to give the Hawks a 68-42 at the under eight minute media timeout. Roberts made the free throw after the break and led all scorers with 22 points in the win.
Saint Joseph's led by as many as 30 points on three separate occasions and Phil Martelli called timeout to empty his bench with 2:53 left as the Hawks sealed an emphatic victory.
In addition to the impressive performances from Roberts and Wilson, DeAndre Bembry also scored in double figures, finishing with 12 points while Kanacevic had another fantastic all-around game, netting 10 points while corralling 8 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists. The Hawks shot 58 percent from the field for the game and made 9-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc.
Conversely, Dayton (19-9, 7-6 A-10) shot a meager 31.7 percent from the field and only connected on 5-of-22 three-point attempts. Jalen Robinson led the Flyers with 13 points while Devin Oliver chipped in 10. Despite grabbing 21 offensive rebounds, Dayton could not translate their superiority on the glass into points as they were held to their lowest scoring output of the season. Dayton also struggled on the defensive end, as this was the first time the Flyers let up more than 70 points in a game since a January 25th loss to Rhode Island, eight games ago.
Saint Joseph's has won 20 games in a season for the first time since 2007-08, which was the last time the Hawks danced in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks have also notched 10 wins in Atlantic 10 play for the first time since their undefeated regular season campaign of 2003-04.
Saint Joseph's also took another large step towards securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with a resounding win over a fellow bubble team.
The regular season is down to its last three games, with Saint Joseph's having to make the trek to Olean, NY for a battle with St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon with tip-off slated for 3 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.
The Bonnies have had Saint Joseph's number over the last couple of seasons, as they have won the last three meetings between the two teams, including a 73-64 decision last January at Hagan Arena.