NEW YORK (AP) — Langston Galloway scored 19 points and hit yet another huge 3-pointer, and Saint Joseph’s beat No. 23 VCU 65-61 on Sunday to win its first Atlantic 10 tournament title since 1997.
The fourth-seeded Hawks (24-9) arrived in Brooklyn on the NCAA tournament bubble. They all but clinched an at-large berth with a win over fellow bubble team Dayton in Friday’s quarterfinals on Galloway’s go-ahead 3, then made that moot by capturing the conference’s automatic bid.
The second-seeded Rams (26-8) have reached the A-10 tourney finals in both years in the league but lost both times.
Fellow senior Ronald Roberts had 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 11 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s.
Rob Brandenberg led VCU with 18 points, but Galloway got just enough separation on him to hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with more than two minutes left.
Briante Weber missed a 3 on the other end, and the Hawks broke down the Rams’ pressure for Roberts’ dunk on a pass from DeAndre Bembry for a 59-54 lead.
Bembry, a freshman, had a brilliant defensive game and a horrific offensive outing in Saturday’s semifinals. But against VCU’s “Havoc” full-court press, he kept his poise, scoring 13 points with eight assists and just two turnovers.
Halil Kanacevic, the third senior starter for Saint Joseph’s, won tournament MVP honors after another all-around performance. The forward from nearby Staten Island had 11 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
The Rams can wear down opponents with their press, and the Hawks aren’t deep. Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli kept his starters in the entire second half, yet they never wilted. All five starters played at least 37 minutes, with Galloway and Kanacevic going the full 40.
For all of the Hawks’ success in 19 seasons under Martelli, they had won only one A-10 tourney title under the coach before Sunday, and that came 17 years ago.
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