DeAndre’ Bembry scored 30 points and Isaiah Miles had 26 points and 12 rebounds as Saint Joseph’s beat VCU, 87-74, on Sunday to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship for the second time in three seasons.
The fourth-seeded Hawks (27-7) locked up an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, though they were likely getting in anyway. The second-seeded and defending champion Rams (24-10) will likely be in the field of 68, too.
JeQuan Lewis and Korey Billbury each scored 19 points for the Rams, who lost in the title game for the third time in four seasons.
Bembry, the conference player of the year, and Miles, the A-10’s most improved player, sliced up the Rams’ half-court defense with sharp passes, hard drives to the basket and mid-range jumpers. Miles converted a three-point play with 8:45 left in the second half that made it 70-49.
Moments later, two technical fouls on Saint Joe’s reserve Papa Ndao for arguing a call gave VCU six free throws that sparked a run for the Rams. They made five and had the lead down to 75-68 when Jordan Burgess hit a 3 with 4:15 left.
That was as close as the Rams would get.
Bembry put an exclamation point on the victory, drawing a foul on a fadeaway that had the Saint Joe’s fans chanting “M-V-P!” and with a dunk that made it 85-70 with 1:47 left.