Coming into Wednesday night’s action, the top of the Atlantic 10 standings was starting to get crowded. the Dayton Flyers were a game ahead of the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, and a half-game ahead of the VCU Rams.
The Flyers went on the road to Philadelphia, PA to take on the Hawks on Wednesday night in a game that could go a long way in determining the regular season champion in the conference. Dayton climbed to #15 in the latest rankings, while Saint Joseph’s was looking for a marquee win to bolster their tournament resume.
Before tip-off, both teams had strong chances of making the field of 68 come Selection Sunday, but a win would strengthen both resumes.
Going on the road in conference play is never easy, and the Flyers found that out first-hand inside Hagan Arena. The Hawks got double-double performances from forwards Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry, and they knocked off the Flyers, 79-70, creating a three-way tie atop the conference standings in the process.
Aaron Brown wasted little time getting things started for the Hawks. He scored six straight to open the game, prompting Dayton to take a timeout just 1:30 into the game. The break seemed to work, as the Flyers responded with 7 straight points of their own, including 5 from Dyshawn Pierre to get right back into the game.
After Dayton took the slim 7-5 lead early on, the teams went back and forth, looking for sustained momentum on offense. After Charles Cooke hit a jumper to give the Flyers a 20-17 lead with 12:13 to play, the Hawks went on a lengthy run to take control of the opening half.
Bembry got things started with a jumper to cut the deficit to 1, and it opened a 12-2 run that put the Hawks in front by 7 when all was said and done, 29-22. Forward Papa Ndao capped off the run with a corner three.
The Hawks would stretch the lead to as many as 11 down the stretch in the half, and would take a 36-27 lead into the break, much to the delight of their home crowd.
Both teams would trade baskets early in the second half, before Brown hit a layup to push the lead to 12, the biggest of the game at the time for the Hawks, at 44-32. Darrell Davis responded with a jumper for the Flyers to cut the deficit back down to 10 with 16:14 to play.
Two minutes later, Scoochie Smith would hit a three pointer to cut the deficit to 7 for the Flyers, but the Hawks had an answer on offense.
With their advantage sitting at 8, Bembry, James Demery, and Miles recorded baskets on three straight possessions for the Hawks, and the lead was back to 14 in a blink of an eye.
Things looked bleak for the Flyers, but they continued to fight. With under 7 to play in the game, Cooke scored 7 straight points to bring Dayton to within 6, but Lamarr Kimble hit a three pointer for the Hawks to put a sudden stop to Dayton’s momentum.
Smith would cut the lead down to 5, but a mini 6-2 run for the Hawks pushed it right back to 9, and the writing was on the wall for the Flyers. Thanks to strong free throw shooting, and timely stops on defense, the Hawks held off the Flyers in the closing minutes to preserve the victory.
When the final buzzer went off, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks came away with a resume-boosting win over the Dayton Flyers, 79-70.
It was the Hawks’ first win over a ranked opponent since the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2014, when they took down VCU to win the conference championship.
For Archie Miller’s crew, five players scored in double-figures in the loss. Charles Cooke scored a team-high 16 points, while Dyshawn Pierre recorded 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in the loss.
Big man Steve McElyene came off the bench to record 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor.
For the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, five different players reached double-digit scoring totals on the night. The forward duo of Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry led the way, each recording a double-double in the win. Miles recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Bembry recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Lamarr Kimble came off the bench to add 13 points of his own.
Despite the loss, the Dayton Flyers (21-4, 11-2) are in great shape heading towards the Atlantic 10 tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The loss put an end to their nine-game winning streak, but they will look to start a new one on Saturday when they welcome the St. Bonaventure Bonnies to town.
With the win, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (22-4, 11-2) have won four straight overall, and 11 of their last 12 contests. They will look to keep pace atop the conference standings on Saturday afternoon when they head on the road to take on Jack Gibbs and the Davidson Wildcats.