Combined with the loss by the top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens earlier in Friday’s Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament quarterfinals, the St. Joseph’s Hawks knew that if they could upset a Dayton Flyers club that most experts have been saying is in the NCAA tournament, they too might earn a bid to the tournament. St. Joseph’s accomplished its goal thanks to an excellent performance from guard Langston Galloway, who scored 31 points to lead the Hawks past the Flyers 70-67. St. Joseph’s (22-9) will face St. Bonaventure in one of Saturday’s A-10 semifinals. Dayton is 23-10 and may be in Bubble Watch mode itself now.
Galloway, a 6-fo0t-2 senior from Baton Rouge, LA, made sure Friday wasn’t his last college game with his second-most points in a game this season (he scored 33 vs. Fordham earlier this year), collecting 31 points on just 16 shots. Galloway hit nine field goals, and six were from three-point range. He also went 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. Galloway also played all 40 minutes for the Hawks, which has become a trend. He has missed just nine minutes of action in St. Joseph’s’ last 10 games. Halil Kanacevic added nine points and 12 rebounds for St. Joe’s.
That kind of effort is indicative of a player who is driven to lead his team to the NCAA tournament. The Hawks haven’t been in the Big Dance since 2008, and they haven’t won a game in the tournament since the lauded 2003-04 team started 27-0 and eventually fell in the regional final to Oklahoma State to end the year 30-2. This year’s edition isn’t as good as that club, but now with 22 wins in a conference that expects to send a handful of teams to the NCAA tournament, a win like Friday’s over Dayton is huge for a Bubble Watch team like St. Joseph’s.
Which brings things back to the Saint Louis loss. St. Joseph’s won at St. Bonaventure, 83-74, in the only meeting between the teams this season. A Hawks win Saturday would put St. Joseph’s in the A-10 Tournament final against one of VCU, Massachusetts, George Washington or Richmond. Two wins will seal an automatic bid for the Hawks, but thanks to Galloway’s shooting, St. Joseph’s may have already left Bubble Watch in the dust and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.