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Saint Joseph's holds off Rhode Island

Ronald Roberts led Saint Joseph's with 20 points and 9 rebounds as the Hawks edged out Rhode Island 61-57.
Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Coming into their game against Rhode Island, the Saint Joseph's Hawks were on an incredible shooting streak, having made an incredible 33 of their 51 three-point attempts over their last two games.

The hot three-point shooting stretch came to a screeching halt on Wednesday night.

Despite shooting just 2-of-14 from three-point range, Saint Joseph's was able to grind out a 61-57 win over Rhode Island at Hagan Arena.

Saint Joseph's (13-5, 3-1 Atlantic 10) led during the majority of the first half, with their largest lead of the half coming nearly six minutes into the contest as a Ronald Roberts dunk gave the Hawks a 14-7 lead.

Rhode Island (10-10, 1-4 A-10) hung tough despite their own shooting woes and ended the first half on a 9-1 run to take a 30-27 lead into the locker room after a Xavier Munford three-pointer just four seconds before the horn.

The Rams continued their spurt into the second half as they extended their lead to 37-31 after a jumper by Jarelle Reischel with 14:19 to play.

While it was certainly a slow process, Saint Joseph's eventually re-established control of the game as they forced numerous turnovers and missed shots from Rhode Island while continually drawing fouls against the Rams on drives to the basket.

Saint Joseph's plodded their way to a 17-2 run which was punctuated by Langston Galloway's only made three-pointer of the game to give the Hawks a 10-point advantage with 6:57 left.

The Hawks advantage could have been larger, but their season long struggles from the free-throw continued, which allowed the Rams to put a late scare into the Hawks.

Late in the game, after a pair of missed free throws from Roberts, Munford hit a three-pointer for Rhode Island and suddenly it was a one-possession game with the Rams down just three with nine seconds to play.

Saint Joseph's was able to get the ball in the hands of Galloway and with 6.6 seconds remaining he connected on one of his two free throws to help seal a narrow victory for the Hawks.

Roberts led the Hawks with 20 points and 9 rebounds in his second game after a back injury kept him out of the starting lineup for a pair of games. Galloway netted 15 points despite struggling from the field, shooting just 3-of-10 in the contest. Halil Kanacevic also finished in double-figures with 11 points before fouling out with 1:26 remaining.

Munford led the Rams with a hard-earned 16 points while Rutgers transfer Gil Biruta netted 11 points in a losing effort.

The difference in the game turned out to be the number of times the Hawks were able to get to the free throw line compared to their counterparts. Saint Joseph's attempted 38 free throws on the night while the Rams only got to the line 15 times.

The Hawks woes from the free throw line continued as they only made 21 of their 38 attempts from the charity stripe. As Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli astutely noted after the game, the Hawks would have been under 50 percent from the free throw line if you took Galloway's 8-of-10 line away.

Saint Joseph's sets their sights on a stretch of games over the next few weeks which should help prove whether they can be legitimate contenders in the Atlantic 10.

"I am not looking any further ahead than the Richmond game," Martelli said after the victory when prompted on how he felt about the upcoming stretch of games.

The Hawks face off against Richmond on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. with the Spiders coming off an upset victory over Massachusetts.

"I'm not surprised by that result (Richmond's win over Massachusetts)," Martelli quipped, "Richmond's style is so unique."

Saturday's game from the Robins Center will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.