Saint Joseph’s Hawks 7th straight victory to open the
basketball season wasn’t easy. It was also quite a bit
Clinging to a 65-62 lead, Jameer Nelson missed both
free throws. Quemont Greer of DePaul had the ball and was attempting
to try to tie the game. Good pressure by Delonte West forced Greer
into a behind-the-back dribble. Greer lost control, Nelson came over
to double-team, and the ball flew out-of-bounds.
The call went Saint Joseph’s way, and Nelson
displayed some nifty dribbling to run out the last few seconds on the
clock, avoiding three DePaul defenders along the way.
Replays showed that the ball was out on Nelson.
Any DePaul player, coach, or fan has every right to be downright angry
about the call. Nevertheless, the Hawks willed themselves to a
victory in front of 6,118 fans at the Palestra, including high school
phenom LeBron James who was in town to play a game on Sunday.
Unfortunately, that is the closest that James will ever be to a
college court. He figures to be a top 2 pick in the next NBA draft.
In a match-up that stirs fond memories of perhaps
Saint Joseph’s greatest basketball victory (Saint Joseph’s defeated #1
DePaul, 49-48 in the 1981 NCAA tourney on a John Smith lay-up), Saint
Joseph’s overcome a 13 point deficit late in the first half to start
the season 7-0 for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Trailing 6-3, the Hawks embarked on an 8-0 run.
Pat Carroll was fouled on a three-point shot and made all three free
throws. Nelson scurried by four DePaul defenders on essentially a
2-on-4 fast-break. He drew some contact, made the bucket and the
ensuing free throw. In a scramble for the ball on the other end, John
Bryant stole the ball and handed it off to Nelson, who fired a length
of the court pass to a streaking Tyrone Barley for an easy lay-up,
Not to be outdone, DePaul put together an 8-0 run
of their own. Sam Hoskin threw home a thunderous dunk over Dwayne
Jones. Delonte Holland stole the inbounds pass and floated in for a
A few minutes later, Alex Sazonov tipped in an
errant Nelson three-pointer to cut the lead to 18-16, ending a four
minute field goal drought by the Hawks. Similarly, John Bryant tipped
in a missed Carroll shot to tie the game, 18-18.
Then DePaul established their largest lead of the
game with a 13-0 run. A Tulley free throw, a Diener basket, a Greer
three-pointer and another bucket, a Hoskin and-1, and a Holland basket
comprised the scoring.
Saint Joseph’s fired back, fueled on by a 10-0 run
of their own to end the half. Juco transfer Chris Cologer made 1 of 2
free throws. Then Nelson stole the ball and made both foul shots.
Nelson harassed DePaul into a 5 second violation, which led to two
free throws by Carroll. Nelson capitalized off yet another DePaul
turnover by drilling a long three-pointer. DePaul turned it over
again, and Nelson sank two more free throws to end the half, 31-28.
The shooting numbers at the half were pretty ugly
by the Hawks. They shot 7-for-28 (25% FG), including 3-12 from the
arc. Saint Joseph’s was outscored by the Blue Demons’ frontcourt,
22-7. The Hawk big men were active on the offensive glass, but were
missing badly on point-blank shots. Martelli seemed miffed by the
missed putbacks, “All you have to do is shoot the ball at the basket,
don’t throw it”.
After allowing DePaul to shoot 54% from the field,
you had a feeling the second half would be markedly different.
Delonte West and Pat Carroll teamed up for
back-to-back three-pointers to trim the lead to one, 38-37. Shortly
thereafter, Nelson was whistled for his third foul. He signaled to
Martelli to leave him in the game. Saddled with the three fouls,
Nelson continued his aggressive defensive approach. But he was too
aggressive. A fourth foul was charged to Nelson with more than 10
minutes remaining and the Hawks trailing, 46-42.
For the second time this season, the Hawks were
able to sustain a large part of the game without their leader.
Delonte West took the team on his shoulders. West’s baseline jumper
kept the Hawks close, 48-44. Two Dwayne Jones free throws trimmed the
lead to two points. A huge three-pointer by West gave the Hawks the
lead. Two free throws by Pat Carroll capped off a 9-2 run with Nelson
on the bench. Hot-shooting DePaul was 2-of-13 to start the second
The teams battled back-and-forth, exchanging
baskets for a couple of minutes. Jameer Nelson re-entered the game
with nearly five minutes remaining. With the score 55-54, Nelson took
over the end of the game. Nelson sank two free-throws to extend the
lead, 57-54. After a Diener basket, Nelson stroked a pull-up jumper.
John Bryant and Dwayne Jones challenged every DePaul shot. What they
didn’t block, they contested. Delonte West nailed an open shot with
1:10 left, putting the Hawks up 61-57.
DePaul had to foul. Nelson made four consecutive
foul shots. Hawks led by 6 points with under 30 seconds to play. But
a Diener three-pointer cut the lead in half, 65-62. Nelson, who was
12-for-13 from the line up until that point, missed both free throws
before the controversy began.
The Big Three of Nelson, West, and Carroll combined
for 50 of the 65 points. John Bryant hauled down 9 rebounds and
Dwayne Jones blocked 3 shots and altered many more. The Hawks shot
23-of-28 from the line (82% FT). The defense limited DePaul to 33% FG
in the second half. The Hawks won despite shooting 35%, including
6-of-23 from beyond the arc. Their stingy defense led to numerous
steals, 5 second violations, and turnovers.
Delonte Holland and Quemont Greer each led DePaul
with 15 points. Sam Hoskins tallied 9 points and 7 rebounds. Drake
Diener played an excellent game. He finished with 11 points and 6
assists. He forced Nelson into 4-for-14 shooting and 5 turnovers.
Saint Joseph’s takes on Pacific Dec 28th
on a two game West Coast swing. The last time the two teams met was
in the first round of the 1997 NCAA tournament. The Hawks defeated
Pacific and their NBA center Michael Olowokandi.
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