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Big Five Dominance

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Saint Joseph's University Basketball

St. Joseph's Hawks
16-3 (6-2 Atlantic Ten)

by Patrick Wandalowski

February 3rd, 2003

Saint Joseph’s Solidifies Big 5 Status w/ Win over Villanova


It was Saint Joseph’s 300th all-time victory at the fabled Palestra and Phil Martelli’s 1st victory ever over the Villanova Wildcats. 


It was, how should I say it, oh yes—an old-fashioned butt-kicking.


In a statement game for the Atlantic 10, the Big 5, and the all important summer bragging rights, Saint Joseph’s took it to Nova early and often in the blowout of Big East conference member Villanova, 92-75.


We all know by now that Hawk’s head coach Phil Martelli loves to praise Jameer Nelson.  He continuously refers to the 5’10 point guard as the best point guard in America.  He should retire the expression.  Nelson’s 30 points Monday night—enough said.  Martelli doesn’t need to talk the talk anymore.  Nelson’s game-day performances do all the talking.


Nelson led the charge in the first half.  The junior All-American candidate nearly outscored the Wildcats all by himself in the first half: Nelson 20, Nova 23.  Since they don’t play 5-on-1 basketball, the real score at halftime was 51-23.


Playing in front of a raucous Palestra crowd, the Hawks got off to a fast start out of the gate.  Before Villanova knew what hit them, Saint Joseph’s had established a 19-4 lead nearly 7 minutes into the contest.  Nelson had 8 of those points, including two three-pointers.  West, who did not start after returning from a team-imposed suspension, made his presence felt by stroking two three-pointers of his own during the run.  Nova was erratic, committing 6 turnovers in the early going.


Then the absurdity of the blowout kicked in.  The lead kept growing.  West’s third trifecta made it 27-9.  West hit both free throws to up the lead to 29-9.  Back-to-back three-point daggers by Pat Carroll raised the score to 35-9.  Nelson scored 5 straight points, 40-9.  All in all, a 13-0 run by the Hawks.


By halftime, Saint Joseph’s had compiled a 28 point lead.  Five backcourt players for the Hawks totaled 44 of the 51 points.  Fantastic perimeter passing (13 assists) led to open three-point baskets (10).  Nelson (20 points) and West (11) led the Hawks in scoring at the break.  ESPN pundits were busy researching the largest margin of defeat in Villanova history.  By the way the Hawks were playing, records were on the verge of breaking.


Villanova made a brief run in the second half.  Nova rattled off a 10-3 run.  Pat Carroll put an end to the Nova comeback with his 3rd three-pointer of the night.  Nova couldn’t get within 17 points the rest of the way until Randy Foye made a jump shot to cut the lead to 81-64. 


Surprisingly, the ineffective free-throw shooting Hawks were connecting on most of their attempts down the stretch.  The Hawks, who came into the game under 64% as a team from the line, made 30-of-37 foul shots.


Though a little sloppy with the ball in the second half, Saint Joseph’s dominated the Wildcats thoroughly.  Nelson and West (the best backcourt in the east?) combined for 55 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.  The duo shot 14-for-27 FG, including 9-of-17 from beyond the arc and 18-of-20 from the charity stripe.


Carroll registered 12 points, all on three-pointers.  Tyrone Barley, in just his 2nd start of the season, tallied 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists.  Center Dwayne Jones made an impact with 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.  He held Nova’s top recruit Jason Fraser to only 7 points and 6 rebounds. 


Sweet-shooting Gary Buchanan led Nova with 19 points.  Ricky Wright had 17 points and freshman Randy Foye chipped in with 15.  Nova committed 18 turnovers.  It was the first Wildcat loss in the last 6 tries versus the Hawks.


Saint Joseph’s padded its record to 16-3.  The 10-1 non-conference mark is quite impressive.  They hold a 2-0 record against Big East foes (B.C. and Nova).  They won by an average of 22 points against those teams.  They won against Gonzaga in the Kennel, a place the big name teams won’t risk playing at.  Wins over DePaul and Penn are nice feathers in their cap.


Finally, Phil Martelli got the monkey (or Wildcat) off his back.  It is his 142nd victory as a head coach, his 1st against city rival Villanova. 


The next game is Saturday night at Rose Hill gym against Fordham.  The Hawks can not afford a letdown.  The Temple game follows the Fordham game.  LaSalle remains the only obstacle in completing a perfect 4-0 Big 5 record.     



E-Mail the Author: Patrick Wandalowski

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