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Florida 70, St. Joe’s 62: Hawks’ comeback comes up short

The Gators' leading scorer, Kerry Blackshear Jr., was ejected after a run-in with Taylor Funk.

Ryan Daly led the Hawks with 25 points. (AP File Photo)
Ryan Daly led the Hawks with 25 points. (AP File Photo)Read moreStephen Dunn / AP

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Keyontae Johnson had a career-high 22 points Thursday as Florida held off St. Joseph’s, 70-62, at the Charleston Classic, playing without ejected leading scorer Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Blackshear, who came in averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds for Florida (3-2), was kicked out after getting a flagrant two foul for what looked like an elbow to St. Joe’s Taylor Funk. Blackshear played only three minutes in the opening half with two early fouls.

Blackshear’s departure seemed to energize the Hawks (2-3), who trailed by 43-27 when the Florida star left the court. St. Joe ’s went on a 29-16 spurt to cut it to three points on Funk’s basket with six minutes left.

But Johnson followed with a basket and Andrew Nembhard made another to extend the lead.

St. Joseph’s had one last charge, slicing things to 64-62 on Ryan Daly’s layup in the final minute. But the Gators made four foul shots down the stretch.

Daly scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. He finished with his third double-double of the season as he grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Funk and Rahmir Moore each finished with 11 points apiece.

Florida will take on Miami on Friday for a spot in the tournament final. The Hawks face Missouri State on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Johnson also had a game-high 12 rebounds. Nembhard added 16 points.

St. Joe’s had hit 34 first-half threes combined in its first four games. It made just one of its 14 long-range attempts this time as it fell behind.