Saint Joseph's scored the final twelve points of the game, while holding Xavier scoreless over the final 3:58 on their way to an important 59-49 victory at Hagan Arena on Saturday evening.
Saint Joseph's (11-7, 2-3 Atlantic 10) struggled towards the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half, going a stretch of 8:29 without scoring a basket. During that time Xavier (11-8, 4-2 A-10) went on a 13-0 run to build a 35-30 lead with 14:33 remaining.
The Hawks managed to stay in contact during the latter part of the second half with a combination of rugged defense and timely baskets. C.J. Aiken and Halil Kanacevic both had four blocks on the evening and provided a pillar for Saint Joseph's to rely on.
A thunderous follow-up slam by Xavier's senior forward Travis Taylor gave Xavier a 47-43 lead with just under six minutes remaining as momentum seemed to be on the Musketeers side.
However, the Monmouth transfer's dunk seemed to ignite a fire under Saint Joseph's instead of Xavier.
A three-pointer late in the shot clock from Carl Jones gave Saint Joseph's their first lead in nearly 15 minutes, putting the Hawks up 50-49 with 3:25 to play.
A minute and fifteen seconds later, after a key offensive rebound by Aiken to keep possession alive, Galloway knocked down a three-pointer to extend the Hawks lead to four.
Two possessions later, Galloway knocked down his fifth triple of the night at Saint Joseph's had a seven point lead with just over one minute left in the game.
Xavier continued to struggle from the field, missing their final five field goals of the contest while uncharacteristically turning the ball over three times over the last 2:38 of game action.
Aiken and Jones combined to knock down three of four free throws in the final minute to account for the final margin of victory for a relieved Hawks squad.
Galloway, Jones, and Kanacevic each led the Hawks with 15 points in the victory for Saint Joseph's. Kanacevic's performance was particularly noteworthy as he seemed to be at the center of everything for the Hawks offensively. The junior forward also chipped in 6 assists while grabbing 8 rebounds in his most impressive performance of the season.
Freshman guard Semaj Christon performed admirably for Xavier, leading all scorers with 16 points in the losing effort. Up until the final minutes of the game, Christon was the best player on the floor and the composure he showed up until the final three minutes was unusual for such a young player.
This game was a bit of a role reversal for Saint Joseph's. The Hawks have struggled mightily late in games and have often shown an inability to close games out. Tonight the team that got tight and began to turn the ball over during the stretch run was Xavier.
Whether this will be a season turning victory for Saint Joseph's or not is obviously still to be determined. However, if the Hawks do make a run towards the top of the conference, this will be the game that should be remembered as the season's turning point.
Saint Joseph's returns to action on Wednesday as they travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham at Rose Hill Gym with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. The Rams scored their second A-10 victory of the season this afternoon with a three-point victory over Rhode Island. Fordham managed the win without its best player, Chris Gaston. Gaston is unlikely to play in Wednesday night's game against Saint Joseph's with a knee injury.