By AARON BRACY
Ronald Roberts continued his stellar play for Saint Joseph’s.
The Saint Joseph’s senior big man came up huge down the stretch for the Hawks, scoring 11 of the team’s final 17 points as St. Joe’s erased a six-point deficit with six minutes remaining to defeat Washington State 72-67 for fifth place in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando on Sunday afternoon.
Roberts finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, capping an impressive three-game stint in the tourney, where he averaged 20.3 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 68.4 percent (26-for-38).
“I base my game a lot off energy,” Roberts told reporters afterward. “And if I go as hard as I can, I can always make shots and get rebounds, putbacks, get on the floor and get loose balls. If I run as hard as I can, good things will always happen.”
Roberts upped his team-leading season averages to 18.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while helping the Hawks (4-2) leave Florida with a good feeling heading into an important week of Big 5 play, Wednesday at Temple before hosting Villanova at 6 o’clock Saturday night at Hagan.
The game went back and forth throughout, and the Cougars went up 61-55 with 5:51 left on DeVonte Lacy’s 3-pointer that capped a 14-4 Washington State run over 5 minutes.
But Roberts replied with a three-point play that started a game-ending 17-5 Hawks spurt. The pivotal stretch came when Roberts scored seven straight points, the last on a strong follow of a Langston Galloway miss with 1:27 remaining, to turn a 65-63 deficit into a comfortable 70-65 advantage.
“As everybody can see, he’s a beast,” Hawks guard DeAndre Bembry, speaking about Roberts, told Joe Lunardi on St. Joe’s radio afterward. I just know he’s going to finish it for me.”
Hawks coach Phil Martelli was pleased with the result, particularly because it’s another victory for the senior class of Roberts, Langston Galloway and Halil Kanacevic he so covets.
“Can’t say enough about our seniors,” Martelli told reporters afterward. “They’re special people and they deserve good things to happen to them.” I can’t say enough about these guys as people and that’s why I want them to taste success.”
“What we’ve talked to this team about is improving and we played better today than we did Friday for longer periods of time,” Martelli added.
-Notes: Lacy led all scorers with 25 points, going 9-for-14 from the field. … Galloway ended with 13 points, but missed 9 of his 13 shots. … Kanacevic had an all-around good game, ending with 7 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. … Isaiah Miles and Daryus Quarles gave the Hawks solid minutes off the bench, with end going for eight points. … Bembry also hit double-figures with 13 points. … The Hawks will wake up at 4:30 a.m. Monday for a 7 a.m. flight.
-Up next: St. Joe’s travels to the Liacouras Center for an 8 p.m. clash (ESPNews) with Temple.
Martelli is looking forward to the matchup with the Owls and against his good friend, Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
“Everybody in Philadelphia knows what I think: Fran Dunphy is not just a great man; he’s a great basketball coach,” Martelli said. “They have lost a lot, but they still have some veteran players. … When you play a Philadelphia game, you’re in with your brother. You want to beat your brother and it’s no different with St. Joe’s-Temple.”