Despite coming off an 11-20 season, Saint Joseph's was picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll released this week.
It's the highest the Hawks have been picked to finish since 2012-13 when they were the preseason favorite.
St. Joe's went just 4-14 in the conference last season after winning the A-10 with a 13-5 conference record the previous year. The Hawks have won the A-10 twice in the last four seasons.
Phil Martelli enters his 23rd season as head coach, and he has all five starters coming back. The Hawks lost some key players last season. Shavar Newkirk was averaging 20.3 points per game until he tore his ACL in the conference opener. Lamarr Kimble was averaging 15.5 points and leading the team in assists when he fractured his foot in February.
Newkirk was named to the preseason All-Conference Second Team; Kimble and Charlie Brown Jr. were third-teamers.
St. Joe's begins its season on Nov. 11 at Toledo, with the Hawks' home opener coming the following Saturday, Nov. 18 against Princeton (see schedule).
WASHINGTON — Andre Berry scored 18 points, Fatts Russell made two crucial 3-pointers in the final six minutes and No. 25 Rhode Island rallied past Saint Joseph's 90-87 on Saturday in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Rams (25-6) are the first No. 1 seed in the Atlantic 10 to reach the conference championship game since Saint Louis in 2013.
Jeff Dowtin added 16 points and 10 assists for Rhode Island, Russell scored 14 points and E.C. Matthews had 11 of his 14 points in the second half for the defending tournament champions.
Shavar Newkirk had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the fourth-seeded Hawks (16-16), who drubbed Rhode Island 78-48 last week. Saint Joseph's appeared poised to deliver another upset while trying to extend its season, building an 11-point lead early in the second half.
Cyril Langevine gave Rhode Island its first lead at 73-71 when he completed a 3-point play with 6:16 remaining. After Newkirk tied it with a basket on the next possession, Russell connected on a 3 to give the Rams the lead for good.
Russell had another 3 with 4:29 to go, and Jared Terrell added a 3 off an offensive rebound and kickout on the Rams' next possession to make it 82-75. The Hawks never cut the deficit to fewer than two and missed out on a chance to tie when Taylor Funk traveled near midcourt with 0.5 seconds left.
Rhode Island: After dropping three of their last five regular-season games, the Rams manufactured tight victories over VCU and Saint Joseph's to reach their second consecutive Atlantic 10 title game.
Saint Joseph's: The Hawks won seven of eight before Saturday's loss and started only one senior in the conference tournament. They're poised to contend in the Atlantic 10 again next season.
Rhode Island: The Rams will meet either second-seeded St. Bonaventure or third-seeded Davidson in Sunday's title game. Rhode Island managed a season split with both teams.
Saint Joseph's: The Hawks' season is likely finished.
WASHINGTON -- Nick Robinson led a balanced attack with 14 points, Taylor Funk had a double-double and fourth-seeded Saint Joseph's pulled away for a 68-49 win over fifth-seeded George Mason on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
Funk had 12 points and 10 rebounds, James Demery had 12 points off the bench and Shavar Newkirk added 13 points for the Hawks (16-15), who face top-seeded and 25th ranked Rhode Island in the semifinals.
Saint Joseph's worked a 26-25 halftime lead up to 16 points midway through the second half but the Patriots (16-17), who swept the regulation-season series by a total of five points, had a 9-0 run to get within single digits with five minutes to go. In the last four minutes the Hawks were 9 of 10 from the foul line, closing with a 16-6 run.
Jaire Grayer had 12 points and 13 rebounds for George Mason, which went 2 of 25 from distance and shot less than 30 percent overall.