Bembry leads St. Joseph's past Columbia

NEW YORK - Columbia point guard Grant Mullins dribbled, and where he stepped, St. Joseph's sophomore James Demery went with him.

The 6-foot-7 Demery shadowed the 6-3 Mullins past the foul line, and when Mullins rose up to shoot, Demery was there, punching away Mullins' shot.

For an early December contest, St. Joe's 80-78 win at Columbia brought with it plenty of bite.

Aaron Brown scored a career-high 26 points and DeAndre' Bembry sparked a 9-0 run midway through the second half to push the Hawks (5-2) to the win.

Columbia's Maodo Lo (21 points) had a chance to tie the score on the game's last possession, but his layup attempt bounced off the rim as time expired.

Bembry (12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) flourished as a offensive facilitator all night. Yet after being held scoreless in the first half, Bembry steered the Hawks to victory with a pair of late three-pointers .

"DeAndre' definitely needs to find the right speed [to his game]," said St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli. "In the second half, he found a rhythm. He was going down the Turnpike at 60 miles an hour. Anything faster is too fast, anything slower is too slow."

Also clutch during the second-half run was freshman Lamarr Kimble.

Kimble stole the ball from Columbia guard Nate Hickman for a fastbreak layup to swing the momentum.

"No one was bigger for us than Fresh Kimble," said Martelli. "He had a steal, he had a floater, he hit two free throws. That's a good step up for us."

St. Joseph's received an unexpected second-half boost from 6-8 graduate student Papa Ndao. Playing in his first game since an overtime loss to UConn in the NCAA tournament on March 20, 2014, Ndao hit three second-half three-pointers.

"It took some of the chains off of our other guys," said Martelli of Ndao, who missed the entire 2014-15 season due to a medical condition and the first six games this season with a fractured left pinky finger. "DeAndre' started shooting the ball more freely.

. . . Now we have another [scoring] threat."