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Saint Joseph’s rides hot shooting to final

Associated Press

Pat Carroll and John Bryant have won 96 games in four seasons at Saint Joseph’s. They want to leave school with a title.

“If we can end with a championship off this year, that would just top off the year,” said Carroll, who scored 13 of his 24 points in the second half of Saint Joseph’s 70-58 victory over Memphis on Tuesday night at New York in the NIT semifinals.

The Hawks (24-11), who had to win four games just to get to Madison Square Garden, will face South Carolina for the tournament championship Thursday.

Saint Joseph’s has won five straight Atlantic 10 regular-season titles, but Carroll and Bryant haven’t enjoyed a tournament victory.

They got close last year, when Saint Joseph’s advanced to the NCAA regional finals behind the star guard duo of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. Those guys are now in the NBA, and the Hawks are in the NIT.

When they started the season 3-6, it looked as though the postseason would be totally out of reach. But Saint Joseph’s is 21-5 since Jan. 1.

“We don’t want to just be remembered for last year,” Carroll said. “Coach (Phil) Martelli set out to make Saint Joseph’s a good program, not just a good team off of 2004.

“This is more satisfying to us.”

Carroll, the Atlantic 10 co-player of the year, was 6 of 9 from 3-point range – including 3 of 4 in the second half, when the Hawks pulled away behind 56.3-percent shooting.

Rodney Carney scored 21 points, 17 in the second half, and freshman guard Darius Washington Jr. added 14 for the Tigers (22-16).

South Carolina 75, Maryland 67: At New York, Carlos Powell scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead South Carolina to a victory over Maryland in the NIT semifinals.

He wasn’t the only Gamecocks player to crash the boards as South Carolina grabbed 20 offensive rebounds – 44 overall.

Josh Gonner scored 11 of his 12 points in the first half, when South Carolina turned an early five-point deficit into a 14-point lead.

The Gamecocks (19-13) are in the NIT championship game for the second time in four seasons.

The fact that Saint Joseph’s knocked off Memphis in Tuesday’s other semifinal was good news for the Gamecocks, who lost the 2002 NIT championship game to Memphis and were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament last year by the Tigers in the first round.

Travis Garrison, Chris McCray and Mike Jones each scored 15 points for Maryland. The Terrapins (19-13) were looking for their ninth straight 20-win season, but fell a victory short.

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