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 last night at Madison Square Garden in 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 championship tomorrow night.
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.
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."
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. Bryant grabbed seven rebounds and continues to give the Hawks a lift since returning from a broken arm.
Memphis won three times at home in the NIT but couldn't get past the Hawks.
Rodney Carney scored 21 points, 17 in the second half, and freshman guard Darius Washington Jr. added 14 for Memphis (22-16). Washington finished 23 of 26 from the free throw line in the NIT after his two misses with no time remaining in the Conference USA title game sent Memphis to this tournament instead of the NCAA.
South Carolina 75, Maryland 67 -- Carlos Powell scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks past the Terrapins and into the NIT championship game for the second time in four seasons. Josh Gonner scored 11 of his 12 points in the first half, when South Carolina (19-13) turned an early 5-point deficit into a 14-point lead. Powell had only 6 points in the first half, but he surpassed his 16.4 average with a solid final 20 minutes.
Travis Garrison, Chris McCray and Mike Jones each scored 15 points for Maryland (19-13), which was looking for its ninth straight 20-win season.