St. Joseph's honored more than 30 former players Saturday at Hagan Arena, and it was only appropriate that DeAndre' Bembry, a throwback to the Hawks of yesteryear, put on a show of his own.
The talented junior scored 26 points and split 12 rebounds evenly on the offensive and defensive glass to guide the Hawks to what became an easy, 80-55 Atlantic Ten win over Fordham.
"He could have played with any one of those guys," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "Some of those names they were calling out [Tony Costner, Clifford Anderson, Zane Major, Rodney Blake, Pat Carroll, Bob Lojewski, to name a few], I was wondering if they still had eligibility. I could put them in this game. Make my life a little bit easier."
Martelli's life was relatively easy Saturday. His Hawks played suffocating defense and took care of the basketball. They committed just one turnover the first 18 minutes of the game and finished the half with just three.
"The defensive performance was at a very high level," said Martelli, whose team won for the 14th time this season, eclipsing last season's total of 13. "[Assistant coach] Dave Duda did a wonderful job scouting, and they responded in very, very positive fashion."
The Hawks (14-3, 4-1 A-10), despite playing textbook defense and getting to the rim on almost every possession, led by just 14-4 6 minutes, 48 seconds into the game. The layups weren't falling, and the free throws were staying out as often as they were going in. On six trips to the line to shoot a pair of foul shots, the Hawks went 1 for 2 each time.
"In the first half, I thought there were empty possessions," Martelli said.
But Bembry, in his old-school way, held the Hawks together, hitting 6 of 9 shots while pulling down six rebounds in the first half. A 38-26 lead at the break should have been much larger, but it didn't seem to affect the Hawks.
"He's a throwback's throwback," Martelli said of his star forward. "They could have called him out [onto the court with the all-timers] for playing in the '60s, the '70s, and in the '80s because he has an old-school game."
Bembry scored on a pair of layups to start the second half. The Hawks then went on a 17-3 run, bookended by a pair of dunks from James Demery (11 points) and a Demery three-point play, giving the Hawks a 61-31 lead with 8:50 left.
In the middle of the run, Bembry collected four points, six rebounds, and an assist.
"His work ethic is obviously tremendous," said former Hawks great Tony Costner, who played from 1980 to '84 and scored 1,730 points. "He could definitely play back then. Back then, it was a little more physical than today's basketball, but he could have adapted to that."