By PATRICK STEVENS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Andre Berry scored 18 points, Fatts Russell made two crucial 3-pointers in the final six minutes and No. 25 Rhode Island rallied past Saint Joseph’s 90-87 on Saturday in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Rams (25-6) are the first No. 1 seed in the Atlantic 10 to reach the conference championship game since Saint Louis in 2013.
Jeff Dowtin added 16 points and 10 assists for Rhode Island, Russell scored 14 points and E.C. Matthews had 11 of his 14 points in the second half for the defending tournament champions.
Shavar Newkirk had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the fourth-seeded Hawks (16-16), who drubbed Rhode Island 78-48 last week. Saint Joseph’s appeared poised to deliver another upset while trying to extend its season, building an 11-point lead early in the second half.
Cyril Langevine gave Rhode Island its first lead at 73-71 when he completed a 3-point play with 6:16 remaining. After Newkirk tied it with a basket on the next possession, Russell connected on a 3 to give the Rams the lead for good.
Russell had another 3 with 4:29 to go, and Jared Terrell added a 3 off an offensive rebound and kickout on the Rams’ next possession to make it 82-75. The Hawks never cut the deficit to fewer than two and missed out on a chance to tie when Taylor Funk traveled near midcourt with 0.5 seconds left.
Rhode Island: After dropping three of their last five regular-season games, the Rams manufactured tight victories over VCU and Saint Joseph’s to reach their second consecutive Atlantic 10 title game.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks won seven of eight before Saturday’s loss and started only one senior in the conference tournament. They’re poised to contend in the Atlantic 10 again next season.
Rhode Island: The Rams will meet either second-seeded St. Bonaventure or third-seeded Davidson in Sunday’s title game. Rhode Island managed a season split with both teams.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks’ season is likely finished.
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)