By Harry Allison
St. Joseph’s was losing at halftime by 14 points to George Washington, which had made a slew of 3-pointers, and coach Phil Martelli was calm.
“I often say to these guys, ‘Look we have a game plan and if the other team beats the game plan by making shots, then we shake their hand, get on the bus and go home,'” Martelli said.
“At halftime I told them. ‘I didn’t mean at halftime we could shake their hand and go home.'”
A-10 player of the year DeAndre’ Bembry scored 21 points and St. Joseph’s surged in the second half to beat George Washington 86-80 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
The fourth-seeded Hawks (25-7) advanced to play top-seeded Dayton on Saturday in the semifinals at Barclays Center.
GW coach Mike Lonergan said after his team’s second-round victory against Saint Louis he was confident the fifth-seeded Colonials (23-10) would receive an at-large NCAA bid if they beat St. Joe’s — and settle for the NIT if not.
On Friday, Lonergan said he was still holding out hope.
“I think we may have a chance if they judge our body of work,” he said.
GW shot 11-for-16 from 3-point range to take a 49-35 lead in the first half.
“Those flurries to be honest with you felt like a street fight and if you’ve ever been in a street fight you don’t know where the punches are coming from and you’re just trying to cover up and that’s really what was going on.” Martelli said.
St. Joe’s had the lead down to 58-54 when Bembry made a dunk off a steal with 12:23 left.
“They were getting everything the first half,” Bembry said. “We kept telling each other they’ll miss shots here or there.”
The Hawks took the lead when James Demery hit a 3 to make it 70-69 with 6:23 left. Aaron Brown’s three-point play with 5:09 left made 75-73 and the Hawks never trailed again.