St. Joseph's clamps down in second half to beat Davidson

DeAndre' Bembry shoots a 3-pointer. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)

DeAndre' Bembry is known as the horse that carries the St. Joseph's Hawks, but that doesn't seem to be enough praise as far as coach Phil Martelli is concerned.

"People say he's a horse, and we're riding him," Martelli said. "He's a pack of horses, or whatever they call them, a herd. He's the whole herd, man."

Martelli was acknowledging his star player after the 6-foot-6 sophomore helped lead a 75-70 upset win over Davidson in an entertaining Atlantic Ten Conference game Saturday at Hagan Arena.

Bembry had an eye-opening stat line with 21 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 turnover in 39 minutes, and the Hawks (9-11, 3-5) needed every measure of his talent to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit against one of the country's top long-range-shooting teams. He has scored 20 or more points in five consecutive games.

Davidson (14-5, 5-3) went into the game averaging 10.6 three-point baskets a game, third in the country. The Wildcats scorched the Hawks for eight threes in the first half to build a 41-28 lead. But St. Joe's began the second half with a 20-3 stretch and tightened up its perimeter defense. The Hawks held the Wildcats, who average 81 points a game, to 27 points during the first 18 minutes of the second half.

Perimeter defense "was a really big deal for us," Martelli said. "It was a clear need."

After freshman James Demery gave St. Joe's a 58-57 lead, Bembry drilled a long three-pointer. Isaiah Miles then banked in a three off the glass, followed it with a free throw, and hit another three to make the score 68-57 with 1 minute, 44 seconds left. The Hawks flirted with disaster by missing the first half of two one-and-ones. But Bembry and Aaron Brown each made two free throws, and the Hawks hung on for a satisfying win over a quality opponent.

"The second half was very efficient until the last two minutes," Martelli said. "We communicated, and we challenged shots."

Freshman Peyton Aldridge had 24 points for Davidson, which shot 14 for 33 (42.4 percent) from three-point distance.