Brooklyn, NY - The Atlantic 10 semifinals’ first game featured Dayton and Saint Joseph’s. The Flyers were impressive end-to-end, defeating Richmond yesterday. The Hawks earned plaudits coming back from a double-digit deficit to eliminate George Washington. Saint Joseph’s enjoyed a double-digit lead most of the way and withstood a late challenge to win, 82-79. The Hawks (26-7) are in the title game the second time in three years. Dayton is 25-7 and awaits their assignment on Selection Sunday.
First half: The only scoring for the first 4:10 came on the first possession, a Charles Cooke putback. Neither team was tentative, just a case of nothing falling against tough defenses. As the half moves on, a few traits are discernible. Dayton looks to run. If the break is not there, they set up. A few sets though, ended in ill-advised attempts from downtown. Saint Joseph’s prefers a half court pace. The Flyers hit a pair of threes to go up six around the seven-minute mark. The Hawks immediately answer and lead by three at the four minute-mark. St. Joe’s has the conference Player of the Year, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Isaiah Miles; who sparked the Hawks’ run, putting Phil Martelli’s club in the lead. As he did yesterday, Martelli is throwing a little zone in on random possessions. Yesterday should be an example: One half does not a game make. Regardless, Saint Joseph’s had to enter halftime feeling positive.
Score: Saint Joseph’s 37 Dayton 30
Offensive efficiency: Saint Joseph’s 95, Dayton 77
Second Half: The first five possessions saw St. Joe’s hit two treys. Following a timeout, Dayton scored five points in their last two possessions. The Hawks won the five-possession beginning of the half, 6-5. Of greater significance is the Hawks showing several players willing and able to bury the three. Time and score. St. Joe’s enjoys a double-digit lead with just over twelve minutes left. The task for Archie Miller’s group is to not try to erase it all at once. Try to get it under ten with ten to go and move on. Mission accomplished, as the Hawk lead is seven with ten to go. At the four-minute mark, Saint Joseph’s holds a 66-60 lead. Hitting a few big shots beyond the arc to keep the Flyers at bay was Papa Ndao of the Hawks. The clock is the Dayton enemy. St. Joe’s zones with two minutes left and ahead eight. Desperation time. Dayton gets some needed stops the last two minutes, but fails to convert on the offensive end.
Final Score: Saint Joseph’s 82, Dayton 79
Possessions: Dayton 82, Saint Joseph’s 80
Offensive efficiency: Saint Joseph’s 103, Dayton 96
eFG%: Saint Joseph’s 50, Dayton 50
Free Throw Rate: Saint Joseph’s 42, Dayton 27
Offensive Rebound%: Saint Joseph’s 22, Dayton 18
Turnover Rate: Saint Joseph’s 20, Dayton 17
What Saint Joseph’s did well: Get others to step up. As noted, Bembry (nine points on 3-of-12 shooting) had a subpar day. Miles, Aaron Brown (16 points) and Papa Ndao (14 points) were waiting in the wings.
What Dayton did well: Get out in transition. As Miller noted, transition is their game. The 80-plus possession pace was rapid, and Dayton enjoyed a 12-4 edge in fast break points.
NOTES: Miles added 26 points. Bembry, quiet in scoring, did have a team-high eight assists. Dayton’s Scoochie Smith enjoyed game-high assist honors with 11 scoring passes. Martelli noted the Hawks are not a great free throw shooting team. They came up big, hitting 22-of-25 from the charity stripe.
“Papa was big. He cares a great deal, and as a senior, I was delighted for his performance. We did a reasonable job on defense, poor with the ball. We need to play better tomorrow. For some of these guys, getting a chance for a second Atlantic 10 championship is really special. We have work to do tonight. No time from 6:30 last Saturday, I was in a panic, concerned with getting my team right to play beautiful games in the middle of March. These guys are creating memories. I’m delighted for the players. A bit miffed we didn’t finish. Yesterday we finished, and will have to be tougher tomorrow.” - Phil Martelli
“Special getting the win, but another game for the Atlantic 10 championship.” - Papa Ndao
“The shots he (Ndao) hit today were so big. We knew he had the ability in him.” - DeAndre’ Bembry
“Congratulations to St. Joe’s. They were difficult to defend. They made ten threes, give them some credit. Proud of our guys in terms of the last few weeks. We played hard and battled today. Have to get a little confidence shooting the ball. Transition is our whole deal. Last few days our defense has been on, have to push the ball even harder. They do a nice job in ball screen staggers and both can shoot threes. A lot of teams do not have that, that’s how you win. Ndao stepped up. This time of year, that is big.”- Dayton coach Archie Miller