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St. Joe Drops NCAA Opener to Huskies in OT

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BUFFALO, NY –  Tenth-seeded Saint Joseph’s fell to seventh-seeded Connecticut in overtime, 89-81, in the NCAA Second Round on Thursday evening at the First Niagara Center. Senior guard Langston Galloway led all five starters in double figures with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor while senior forward Ronald Roberts, Jr. registered his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman guard DeAndre’ Bembry chipped in 16 points and senior forward Halil Kanacevic added 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists while junior guard Chris Wilson registered nine of his 13 points in the final 25 minutes.

Tied 70-70 entering the five-minute overtime, Connecticut’s DeAndre Daniels made a jumper at the 3:48 mark and was fouled on the play. Daniels converted his free throw attempt to put the Huskies ahead, 73-70.

Saint Joseph’s would respond as Galloway hit his fourth three-pointer of the day to equalize the score, 73-73, with 3:29 to go.

From that point, UConn would go on a 16-8 run to expand its lead to nine as the Huskies made 13 consecutive free throws en route to shooting 14-of-15 from the line in the final 3:48 of overtime. Ryan Boatright hit UConn’s final three free throws to give the Huskies the 89-81 advantage as time expired.

UConn’s Shabazz Napier had nine of the Huskies’ 19 points in the overtime period, including seven made free-throw attempts.

Trailing 67-66 with under two minutes remaining in the second half of regulation, Wilson hit a floater from the right side of the key to put the Hawks back ahead, 68-67.

Immediately following the play, the Hawks’ defense forced a UConn turnover to gain possession with less than one minute to play. Wilson went up for another floater attempt but got fouled on the play. Wilson hit both free throws to put the Hawks up by three, 70-67, with 49.2 left to play.

UConn came out of their timeout with possession and inbounded the ball to Shabazz Napier, who missed the lay-up attempt. But Amida Brimah grabbed the offensive board and put in the lay-up, getting fouled on the play. Brimah converted on the free throw attempt to tie the game, 70-70, with 39.0 seconds remaining in regulation.

Racing back down the court, Galloway put up a shot that just beat the shot clock, but his shot would bounce hard off the back board and out of bounds as possession went to UConn with 2.7 seconds left.

UConn’s Napier heaved up a shot from beyond the arc, but the ball hit the rim and bounced back out to send the game into overtime.

The Hawks played one of their best halves of the season in the first, clicking on all cylinders. SJU led by seven points and with a pair of free throws from Roberts, took a 35-26 lead at 4:31. The Hawks increased it to their biggest lead of the game, 37-27, on a layup by Bembry at 2:19. UConn closed the half with an 8-3 run to trim the Hawk lead to 42-35 at halftime.

SJU led for most of the second half until Napier connected on a three-point play, 55-53, at 9:14. The Hawks regained the lead, 62-57, on a layup by Kanacevic at 6:09. A layup by Napier pulled the Huskies within 66-64, and the Hawks couldn’t beat the shot clock on their next possession. DeAndre Daniels then hit a three for UConn at 2:09, giving the Huskies a 67-66 lead. Chris Wilson scored five straight points for the Hawks but the score was tied at 70-70 after a three-point lpay by Amida Brimah.

Galloway finishes his career ranknig second on the Hawks’ all-time scoring list with 1,991 points.

The Hawks end the season with a 24-10 record, the best since the 2004-05 team went 24-12. It was SJU’s first NCAA appearance since 2008.

“We have a message on the wall in our lockerroom, we put the message on the blackboard before every game, and then we say it- ‘Act like a champion’.  I just told the team, that’s exactly what they did for 45 minutes, and really what they’ve done since June,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “Sometimes in life you don’t get really what you want.  There are reasons that may be out there for anybody.  I don’t know why.  But if anybody deserved to keep playing, these guys certainly did.  Connecticut did everything that they had to do.  And the only number that jumps out is our turnover numbers.  It’s too high, particularly when we only had five at half.”

“So we came in here as champions, and we’re going to leave that locker room tonight.  It will be a long night tonight, probably a long weekend.  Then we’ll get each of these guys on their path to life.If it’s the hardest thing they face, they’ve lived a blessed life.”

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