PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A familiar feeling crept into the heads of the Saint Joseph’s players after UMass overcame a big deficit to tie the game in the final minute.
Less than a month earlier, the Minutemen trailed by nine points before rallying to beat St. Joe’s. But this time, on their home court, the Hawks didn’t allow that to happen again.
Halil Kanacevic scored 18 points and Saint Joseph’s broke away from a late tie to beat No. 21 Massachusetts 73-68 Saturday.
“They got us up there when we were feeling like we should have won that game,” Kanacevic said. “And it almost happened again tonight. It’s a great win.”
Led by Chaz Williams, UMass rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half and made it 68-all in the final minute. But St. Joe’s hit five foul shots in the final 30 seconds to secure the win.
Kanacevic added six rebounds and five assists. Ronald Roberts scored 17 and DeAndre Bembry had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks (15-6, 5-2 Atlantic 10), who have won 11 of 13.
Just don’t try to call their latest win an upset – even if it was the Hawks’ first win over a ranked team in two years.
“Take nothing away from UMass but we played them already and we almost beat them,” Kanacevic said. “We feel like we should have beat them. I don’t feel like it’s an upset.”
“I’m delighted we didn’t storm the court or anything like that,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli added. “That’s not necessary.”
Derrick Gordon scored 21 and Chaz Williams finished with 16 points and 10 assists for the Minutemen (17-4, 4-3). UMass has lost three of four, with all three losses coming on the road.
Williams scored nine points in the last 4:19 and forced a steal and fed Gordon for a game-tying layup with 1:23 left. He made a foul shot to tie it at 68 with 39 seconds left, but missed his second try. UMass failed to convert three straight putback attempts before Chris Wilson corralled the rebound for St. Joe’s and got fouled.
“I thought we fought back and were probably a missed layup away from winning that game,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We had two one-footers to go up two and we put them to the free throw line shortly thereafter.”
After Wilson made both foul shots, the Hawks forced a turnover and Papa Ndao made two more free throws with 12.6 seconds left to make it 72-68.
UMass didn’t get a shot off on the other end and Langston Galloway sealed the win by making one of two free throws with 5.9 seconds left.
Galloway, the Hawks’ leading scorer, didn’t have a point in the first half. He finished with seven on 2-for-7 shooting.
“I knew we were going to pull it out,” Roberts said. “I knew we could do it. You just have to believe in yourselves, trust the coach and go out there and play hard.”
The game was tied at 12 before the Hawks outscored the Minuteman 29-13 over the final 13:30 of the half.
UMass, the top-scoring team in the Atlantic 10, shot just 38.5 percent from the field and in the first half and finished with 12 points below its season average.
“I thought we played great basketball for 20 minutes of a 40-minute game and probably the worst half of basketball we could play in the first half,” Kellogg said. “From missed layups to just not a lot of energy to different things, you just can’t win on the road like that.”
Saturday’s game marks the end of tough stretch for the Minutemen, who have played five of their last six on the road and will almost certainly drop out of the Top 25 when the next rankings come out.
The Hawks began a three-game homestand against the elite teams of the Atlantic 10. They welcome first-place Saint Louis to Hagan Arena on Wednesday and second-place VCU next Saturday.
“If we want to go far at the end of the season, we have to climb the ladder,” Roberts said. “This was a good test and these next two games are a great test. And playing at home is a great advantage.”
Before the game, St. Joseph’s celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2003-04 team that went undefeated in the regular season and advanced to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament. Many players from that team were in attendance.
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