By JAMES HILL
Some nights, you just have everything working. On this night, Saint Joseph’s performance left coach Phil Martelli with nothing but a simple statement to summarize the night: “We were really good.”
Saint Joseph’s completely dominated play on both ends of the floor to score a 79-53 blowout win over bubble brethren Dayton on Tuesday night. The Hawks raced out to an early 8-0 lead over the Flyers en route to their second straight wire-to-wire win.
Chris Wilson played the best game of his career for the Hawks. The junior tallied a career-high 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field – including three three-pointers. Wilson took advantage of a defense that left him alone to trap the St. Joe’s post players, burying shots and blowing by closeouts.
“It’s really a testament to my teammates,” Wilson said. “We have so many weapons on the team, it’s not just one guy. They were trying to take away Lang after what he did in the last game, and Ron and Halil in the post.
“That’s what I love about playing for such a balanced team.”
Ronald Roberts had a strong game of his own. The big man led all with 22 points – including two dunks that may show up on SportsCenter Wednesday – and grabbed seven rebounds.
The inside-outside combination of Wilson and Roberts led the Hawks throughout the first half as they built their lead. The pair scored 11 apiece before intermission as the Hawks built a 19-point halftime lead. The Flyers would never get closer than 17 points the rest of the way.
“Give Dayton great credit – they were down 18 at Duquesne on Sunday and came back and won,” Martelli explained. “They were down 15 to us with 10 minutes left, came back and tied that game. We really had to deliver a message all the way. I felt we were very successful in doing that.”
Saint Joseph’s defense was stifling throughout the night. Dayton was never able to find a rhythm offensively, and their numbers showed it. The Flyers shot less than 32 percent on the night, including 5-for-22 from deep. The Hawks blocked eight Dayton shots.
Jalen Robinson led Dayton with 13 points. Devin Oliver tallied 10 points and snared 11 rebounds.
“It’s definitely one of our most complete games this year,” said St. Joe’s senior Halil Kanacevic. “Dayton is a really good team, and the A-10 conference is tough. That’s a tournament team right there – no doubt about it. They didn’t struggle in games in until the conference started.
“When you play that good against a team like that, I think it’s one of our top wins.”
Kanacevic put together another stat sheet-stuffing game. The big man had 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four blocks.
DeAndre Bembry chipped in 12 points, and Langston Galloway struggled through an off-night from the floor en route to a seven-point performance.
The win was Saint Joseph’s 16th in its last 19 games, and it came at the expense of another team fighting for its NCAA Tournament life. The Hawks, second in the Atlantic 10 at 10-3, pushed its lead to a game-and-a-half over a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings, setting themselves up nicely for a good seed in Brooklyn.
“These players like playing with each other,” said Martelli. “So we’d like this to go for a very long time.”
Postgame Press Conference: Phil Martelli
James Hill covers Saint Joseph’s basketball for Philahoops. Reach him at [email protected], on Twitter @jrhill17, or leave a comment below.