Rhode Island eased up, and Saint Joseph’s seized the opportunity.
After wrapping up their first-ever Atlantic 10 regular-season championship Friday, the 17th-ranked Rams were run out of the gym by the unranked Hawks in a 78-48 blowout victory Tuesday night in Kingston, R.I.
James Demery scored a game-high 21 points off the bench and Taylor Funk added 17 to power Saint Joseph’s (14-15, 9-8 Atlantic 10) to its fifth win in six games following a season-high, five-game skid.
The Hawks earned their first victory against an AP Top 25 opponent this season after losing 94-53 to then-No. 4 Villanova on Dec. 2 in their only other ranked matchup. It was St. Joseph’s first true road victory against a ranked team in nearly 40 years.
Jared Terrell finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, and E.C. Matthews scored 13 for Rhode Island (23-5, 15-2). The Rams had won back-to-back games after a 77-74 upset loss at St. Bonaventure snapped their nation-leading 16-game win streak.
Saint Joseph’s last won against Rhode Island on Jan. 30, 2016, a 64-55 decision.
Hawks leading scorer Shavar Newkirk had 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting while Nick Robinson added 10 points and four steals. The Hawks shot 51.9 percent (27 of 52) from the field, including a sizzling 61.5 percent (8 of 13) from 3-point range.
The Rams were held to 28.1 percent shooting (18 of 64) and went 3 of 29 from deep (10.3 percent).
Funk’s 3-pointer with 19:39 remaining pushed Saint Joseph’s lead over 20 for the first time at 38-16, and the Hawks never looked back. The Rams were outscored 43-32 in the closing period.
Demery had 13 and Newkirk 11 to put the Hawks up 35-16 at halftime.
Stanford Robinson’s 3-pointer gave Rhode Island a 7-5 lead with 17:00 left in the opening period. Demery answered with a layup 32 seconds later, sparking a 15-0 Hawks run for a 20-7 edge by the 12:20 mark.
A Demery layup with a minute to go in the half stretched Saint Joseph’s lead to 19.
Rhode Island wraps up the regular season Friday at Davidson. Saint Joseph’s hosts La Salle on Saturday in its finale.
—Field Level Media