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Saint Joseph's continues strong start with romp over Va. Tech

12/22/2015, 4:45pm EST
By Ryan Restivo

Isaiah Miles (15) goes up for two of his career-best 36 points as St. Joe's won its fifth game in a row, 79-62 over Virginia Tech. (Photo: Richard Restivo)

Ryan Restivo (@ryanarestivo)

BROOKLYN -- Saint Joseph’s missed its first seven shots. That might be the only bad thing that came from the Hawks' performance at the Barclays Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Isaiah Miles had the best game of his college career, posting career-highs in almost every category imaginable. The 6-foot-7 senior set highs with 36 points, 15 rebounds (tying his high set earlier in the season against Old Dominion), 11 field goals, 11 free throws made and tied his career-high blocks with four.

DeAndre’ Bembry was right behind him, scoring 22 points of his own as the Hawks cruised past Virginia Tech 79-62 in game one of the ACC-Atlantic 10 doubleheader. 

The win gives the Hawks a 9-2 record, with victories over teams in Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference and an ACC school as they head to their holiday break. They have one game remaining -- an affair with Maryland Eastern Shore on Dec. 29 -- before starting Atlantic 10 play.

“They get an A-minus across the board,” head coach Phil Martell said of their start, their best since the 2003-04 season when they earned a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

“I mean he would disagree, but I say A-plus,” Miles added of how he would assess their start. “I can see why he said A-minus, because there’s always room for improvement and I agree with him on that. There’s a lot more basketball to play, but we just need to keep this momentum going on after break.”

It's the best start for the program since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West led the team to an 11-0 record through as many games in 2003-04; that year, the Hawks won their first 27 games and made it to the NCAA Tournament's Elite 8. The 9-2 record puts the Hawks in good position to reach some sort of postseason if they can have a solid showing in the A-10 -- a league in which they were picked to finish seventh in the preseason.

The Hawks crushed the Hokies in almost every facet of their game plan, holding Virginia Tech to just nine offensive rebounds and letting them only get to the free throw line 11 times. They managed to hold Seth Allen to two points in the first half and, while he scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, it was too little too late.

Miles entered the game averaging 15.5 ppg, second to his senior teammate Bembry (15.9 ppg), but found his stroke in the second half, where he scored 25 of his points. For the majority of the first half, the Hawks fed the hot hand in Bembry.

“We struggled out of the box, we did not shoot the ball particularly well in the beginning,” Martelli said. “DeAndre' recognized that and actually came during a timeout and said, ‘We can run we would like to play like that pace, but we thought we were at a disadvantage in terms of a speed game.’”

The win sets them up for the holiday break, where Martelli said five of his players would be not be traveling back with the team and head off to go with their families for the break.

They will reconvene on Saturday for practice and play Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday before opening up Atlantic 10 play at Richmond on Jan. 2.

“We’re going to be 10-2 or 9-3, but that day going into that game, it’s going to be we have to come out of there 1-0,” Martelli said adding that this win has little meaning when it comes to conference play. “We were better today than we were in our last game against Illinois State. We must be better on Saturday than we were today, so that in March when we come back to the Barclays, we’re playing our best basketball of the year.”


Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]

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