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Atlantic 10 Championship Recap: St. Joe’s takes the title

With an automatic NCAA tournament bid on the line, St. Joe’s picked the right time to play their best game of the season. From start to finish, the Hawks played both great defense and electrifying offense. After turning the ball over 15 times in the semifinal game against Dayton, they committed just seven turnovers today. A healthy improvement and key to the game against VCU’s havoc style defense. St. Joe’s shot the ball very well, going 35-54 (65%) from the floor. VCU on the other hand, shot just 41% and could not seem to find a rhythm. The Hawks simply had an answer for everything the Rams tried today.

The old saying, “Big time players make big time plays in big time games” certainly proved true in this game. A-10 Player of the Year, DeAndre Bembry put up an impressive 30 points to help St. Joe’s take home the championship. The A-10’s most improved player, Isaiah Miles, also played a major role in today’s game. He carded a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Despite a short VCU run with about eight minutes to go in the 2nd half, St. Joe’s controlled this game from start to finish. The only momentum VCU seemed to gain all day came when the officials ejected Hawk forward Papa Ndao. They tried to use this energy to mount a comeback, but the Rams could just not find a way to overcome mighty St. Joe’s. JeQuan Lewis and Korey Billbury led the way for VCU in today’s game. They each scored 19 points and pulled down two boards. Both teams played their hearts out, but St. Joe’s had more working for them today, walking away with a 87-74 win.

Coming into the game, both teams appeared like locks to make the NCAA tournament, however, in college basketball, nothing is for certain. After downing Davidson in the semifinal game, VCU sought their 2nd straight A-10 tournament title. Unfortunately for the Rams, St. Joe’s was too much. With this win the Hawks lock up a spot in the NCAA tournament. Given the way they played today, St. Joe’s has the capability to make deep run in the Big Dance. While it still looks like VCU should make the tournament, Ram fans, coaches, and players will certainly have a case of the butterflies tonight. As A-10 fans, lets hope the committee smiles upon their overall body of work and grants VCU a good seed.

This game concludes one amazing year of A-10 play! Congratulations to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on winning the A-10 tournament title. Thanks to all coaches, players, and fans for making it yet another memorable college basketball season. Good luck to A-10 teams entering postseason tournaments. Time to continue showing the rest of college basketball just how good this conference is!

Grant Kelly is a sophomore finance and marketing major at the University of Dayton. He has been attending college basketball games since birth and has...