La Salle and St. Joseph’s ended the regular season with a closely fought battle, but now the teams have shifted their focus to the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
St. Joe’s is seeded 13th and will be playing its first game Wednesday at 1 p.m. La Salle is seeded 10th and will open against Davidson on Thursday. The tournament is being played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Hawks (6-25, 2-16) lost to the Patriots, 62-55, in their only regular-season matchup. St. Joe’s led by 11 in the first half, but George Mason (16-15, 5-13) responded with a 20-4 run and never trailed again.
Billy Lange’s biggest memory from that game is Javon Green, who led the Patriots with 20 points. “He killed us,” Lange said. “We lost our attention to detail on Green in the second half.”
Lange believes St. Joe’s is playing its best basketball since defeating Davidson on Feb. 18, despite what the record says.
“There’s 14 teams in our league. I believe we are playing as well as 10 of them,” Lange said.
Anthony Longpre and Rahim Moore are two players who have grown a lot lately, Lange said. Moore started seven straight games before coming off the bench for 12 points in the 78-77 loss to La Salle.
St. Joe’s Ryan Daly is the A-10′s leading scorer and Cameron Brown has been one of the conference’s most productive freshmen.
If St. Joe’s beats Mason, it will play St. Bonaventure on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Isiah Deas said it’s like a storybook ending. The senior guard and La Salle will play Davidson (16-14, 10-8) at 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
“I’m trying to make it like a home game,” said Deas, a Brooklyn native. “It’s going to be exciting.”
La Salle (15-15, 6-12) believes it is playing its best basketball right now, but it didn’t come without obstacles. Ed Croswell left the team, Deas has been sick, Scott Spencer had an upper body injury, and Brandon Stone dealt with a cold.
“It was grueling, to be honest,” Deas said about dealing with sickness. “Practice became harder because we couldn’t simulate things at full speed and as aggressive as we wanted to. I think mentally it gave us a different level of fortitude and attention to detail that helped us."
The Explorers won four of their last six games to end the regular season, but they are 11th in the A-10 in scoring. Davidson held them to 49 points two weeks ago in a 25-point win.
“On paper, they have the best backcourt in the league,” coach Ashley Howard said, referring to Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson. “Even though they are a seven seed, they could easily be a top-four seed.”