March 13th 2016
Saint Joseph’s 87 VCU 74
The VCU Rams came into this game with one thing on their minds and that was to walk out of Barclays with another A10 Championship however the Saint Joseph’s Hawks had other ideas. Both teams had a very good regular season record coming into the game the Rams were 27-7 and the Hawks were 24-10. Throughout the tournament VCU won games with their defense and presence in the middle, they again looked to jump out on the Hawks early. The Hawks wanted to strike first Aaron Brook stated in his post game press conference that he want to come out and punch them in the mouth first to establish their intensity and not allow the Rams to be as comfortable as they were on offense in their previous games.
The game was intense at the start with both teams trading baskets and making plays on the defensive end. VCU was very well represented however the St Joseph’s faithful showed up to support their team in droves. The atmosphere in the Barclays Center was electric and both teams played hard throughout the game.
For the Hawks, Isaiah Miles and “The Fro” DeAndre’ Bembry both had monster offensive games and willed their team to victory. Bembry was especially aggressive this afternoon. He shot 13-16 and finished with 30 points. Every time the Rams made a run he would answer with an impressive play.
The VCU guards seemed a little nervous as they were taking uncharacteristic shots, throughout this game, very deep 3’s that were missed and early in the offensive possessions. VCU shot 24% from behind the arc and shot a woeful 7-29. Thise 29 shots from behind the arc equaled their total shots from three combined in the last two games they played. The Hawks however took only 8 3’s for the entire game and focused most of their offensive attack in the paint scoring 54 points in the middle and shooting 64.8% from the field for the game.
VCU found themselves in unfamiliar territory when they were down early by 7 early in the game 20-13. They had not trailed much throughout the tournament and they would never lead in this game. There was no valiant comeback this day. Senior guard Melvin Johnson could not bail out his team today he had a total of 5 points and just could not seem to get an offensive rhythm. Justin Tillman was again very active on the glass he led the team with 8 rebounds but just could not make an imprint on this game. JeQuan Lewis and Korey Billbury both had 19 points for the Rams but both did not shoot particularly well from the floor. There was a lot more one on one basketball for the Rams today the ball movement was not as sharp as it was in previous games.
The second half started out much like the first with both teams trading baskets early. The Hawks took a 13-point lead after a 3 by Peirfrancesco Olivia. Deandre Bembry continued his offensive prowess in the second half as he called for an isolation play against Jonathon Williams, backed him down and scored on a turn around jumper from the foul line. Time after time he would make a play to stop a run by the Rams. Bembry sealed the Rams faith after a crossover and tough lay-up with 2:22 left in the game to give the Hawks a 13-point lead. The Fro then had a thunderous dunk on a beautiful cut to the basket sending his teammates and Hawks fans into a frenzy. It was these moments that coach Phil Martelli spoke of in the press conference following the game.
“Moments, moments, moments…… Moments.” – Coach Phil Martelli (Hawks)
VCU was down 20 with 9 minutes left in the game. The VCU fans fell silent as they saw their championship dreams fading. The frustration started to pile on the Rams, as they could not close the gap. Ahm Mohamed Hamdy (VCU) picked up a technical foul after he was battling with James Demery(Hawks) for a rebound. Both players were assessed techs as they stared each other down and exchanged words. With this loss the Rams await their opponent in the NCCA tournament and look to rebound and prepare for whoever their opponent will be. Coach Will Wade reflected on the season and on coming back from tough losses stating that his team will be ready.
Congratulations to the 2016 A10 Men’s Basketball Champion Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
Photo/Video: Sherman Gomez for PureSportsNY