Survives Hawk Comeback
The Dayton Flyers needed every bit of their
home-court advantage to fend off a furious Saint Joseph’s rally and
hold onto a 76-73 victory despite a sensational one-man show performed
by the Hawks’ Jameer Nelson.
Dayton raced out to the early lead. Following a
possession filled with multiple second-chance opportunities, the
Flyers took a 14-9 lead on a put-back basket by Nate Green. A Warren
Williams three-pointer completed a UD 7-0 run to establish a
comfortable 8 point lead. The seven points scored in the run were
amassed by three Dayton reserves. The largest lead of the first half
(10 points) was the result of a Keith Waleskowski bucket, 24-14.
Aside from the 7-0 bench run, the flow of the game
was practically even. The run coupled with some poor execution by the
Hawks on the offensive end gave way to the Dayton lead.
The Hawks struck back with the help of ESPN 3rd
team All-American Jameer Nelson. Nelson, also a member of the A-10
All-Defensive team, swiped the ball and drove the length of the court
for an easy two points. Following a missed shot by the Flyers, Nelson
came down the floor and drained a straightaway three-pointer. Chet
Stachitas made 1-of-2 free throws to cut the deficit to three points,
Down 32-31 and faced with an opportunity to take
their first lead since 4-3, Nelson missed both free throws. Dayton
capitalized in a big way, finishing the half on a 6-0 run and a 38-31
The frontcourt of Dayton proved to be the
difference in the half. UD’s big men (17 points) outscored the Hawks’
big men (4 points). The Flyers controlled the boards (25 vs. 15).
The Hawks’ scoring leaders were Nelson (13 points),
Carroll (7), and Barley (6). Dayton, despite no points from Brooks
Hall, was led in scoring by Mark Jones (10 points), Nate Green (8),
Keith Waleskowski (7), and Ramod Marshall (6).
The second half started with some roof problems at
the UD Arena. There must have been a leak or several because Dayton
starting raining threes from all over. Brooks Hall knocked down 3 and
Ramod Marshall drained 2 as Dayton blitzed the Hawks with a 14-0 run
to take a commanding 55-36 lead.
The Flyer faithful must have been enjoying the
show, until Act II took place.
With the Flyers leading 55-39, a quick glance at
the stat sheet foreshadowed the upcoming action. Into the second half
at this stage, it was UD 17, Jameer Nelson 8. Did Nelson actually
think he could beat the Flyers just by himself? Apparently he did
think that and he nearly did prove it.
Nelson did it ALL in the second half. The Hawk
great (a Living Legend as a junior?) scored 26 second-half points en
route to a career-high 39 points, the sixth highest total in Saint
Joseph’s history. Tony Costner and Jack Egan hold the record with 47
points each. The 39 points tie for 6th best with Cliff
Anderson and Larry Kenney.
After missing the two free throws in the first
half, Nelson sank all 12 of his attempts in the second half.
Down 55-36, the Hawks streaked to a 16-4 run with
Nelson accounting for 9 of the points. The Hawks trailed 59-52. A
few minutes later, Delonte West converted back-to-back baskets to pull
the Hawks to 68-64. West played sparingly and remains a constant
reminder how offensively-challenged the Hawks are without their main
Two Nelson free throws capped off the 19 point
comeback and tied the score at 69-69 with fewer than 4 minutes left.
Some crazy officiating occurred at the end of the
game. The refs were calling fouls away from the ball and 25-40 feet
away from the basket. The refs were too involved down the stretch.
Brooks Hall, who scored all 14 of his points in the
2nd half, made only 1 of 2 free throws to give Dayton a
slight lead. Following a rare miscue (a turnover by Nelson), Mark
Jones was fouled and he too only made 1 of 2 foul shots. Nelson drove
and was fouled. He calmly buried the two free throws to tie the score
Hall again was fouled and only made 1 free throw
despite a perfect shooting stroke. A gutsy Delonte West attempted to
give the Hawks the lead but his shot was off the mark. UD’s DJ Stelly
was able to score on a reverse lay-up while being fouled. Stelly
converted the three-point play and gave UD a seemingly secure 75-71
lead with under a minute remaining.
Nelson drove to the basket and was fouled. He made
both free throws with 45 seconds left. A strong defensive effort
would give the Hawks nearly 10 seconds to tie or win the game. Dayton
did their part and Ramod Marshall missed a three-pointer.
Unfortunately, the long rebound found its way into Nate Green’s
Unselfishly and smartly, Nelson fouled
immediately. He sacrificed himself for the team. A lot of superstars
won’t make that necessary foul when saddled with 4 fouls. Nelson knew
he had too.
If Green would miss 1 of 2 charity tosses, the
Hawks would have a chance. Green missed the first. He made the 2nd
free throw. Hawk coach Phil Martelli chose not to call a timeout. A
clean inbounds pass allowed the Hawks to bring the ball up court with
little trouble. Pat Carroll received the ball. On his way to
squaring up to the basket for the game-tying three, Carroll had the
ball ripped out of his hands by a Dayton defender. No whistle. Tough
to see if he was fouled. If he was fouled and it was determined to be
in the act of shooting, Carroll would have had the chance to send the
game into overtime. But no such chance. And Dayton escaped with the
Dayton nearly had 5 scorers in double figures:
Marshall (15 points), Hall (14), Jones (13), Waleskowski (11 and 11
rebounds), and Green (9). UD shot 43% against the #1 field goal
percentage defense of Saint Joseph’s. Their offensive rebound total
(19 to just 6 for the Hawks) was paramount to the win.
Nelson’s 39 point total is a record for an A-10
semifinal. He finished 11-for-19 from the field and 14-of-16 from the
free throw line. He added 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Chasing all-time
leader Rap Curry for the school career assist mark, Nelson ended up
passing Curry’s point total. The pass-first point guard may surprise
some people because he has a great chance to pass Bernard Blunt for 1st
place on the school’s scoring list (1985 points) by next season.
No other Hawk reached double figures. Tyrone
Barley and Pat Carroll were held scoreless in the second half.
Developing big man Dwayne Jones added 7 points, 12 rebounds, and 3
blocks in 23 minutes.
Saint Joseph’s closes the season at 23-5. They
were 7-0 vs. Philadelphia teams and 0-3 against Ohio teams. The Hawks
are expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Recent projections list them anywhere from a 7-10 seed.
Win #23 for the Hawks
Saint Joseph’s ended LaSalle’s season in the
opening round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, 68-48. The Hawks
overcame a sluggish start and pulled away from their city rival with
two big scoring runs (12-1 and 13-0) in the second half.
Sophomore Pat Carroll netted 11 of his 14 points in
the second half to go along with 6 rebounds. All A-10 1st
team point guard Jameer Nelson added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5
With Saint Joseph’s offense mired in a two game
slump, the Hawks relied on their nationally ranked defense. Entering
the game ranked #1 in the country in field goal percentage defense
(36.8%), the Hawks improved upon that stat by holding the Explorers to
32.7% for the game.
Saint Joseph’s played its second game at the UD
Arena this year. Like their earlier game vs. Dayton, the Hawks were
plagued by poor shooting in the opening half. Besides taking the 1st
lead of the game 3-0 on a Nelson three-ball, Saint Joseph’s trailed
for most of the first half.
It wasn’t until 5:28 in the half that the Hawks
regained the lead. A kind bounce off the rim resulted in a Nelson
basket and a 16-15 lead. LaSalle sophomore Mike Cleaves took the ball
the length of the court and scored.
Delonte West, still bothered by a stress fracture
above his right ankle, did not start but entered the game just 5
minutes into the contest. He knocked down a three-pointer to give
back the lead to the Hawks—momentarily. Because A-10 Rookie of the
Year Gary Neal connected on both ends of the 1-and-1 to tie the game
at 19-19. But West scored again.
Separation occurred near the end of the half. Hawk
freshman Chet Stachitas, playing in place of Tyrone Barley who had
picked up his 3rd foul, launched and connected on a
three-pointer to make the score 26-21. A Dwayne Lee basket to end the
half resulted in a 28-23 halftime lead.
West (9 pts) and Nelson (7 pts) led the way for the
Hawks. The Explorers’ backcourt of Jermaine Thomas, Gary Neal, and
Mike Cleaves combined for 20 of the team’s 23 points. LaSalle stayed
in the game by working the offensive glass.
Only 3 minutes into the second half, matters looked
bleak for the Hawks. Nelson, Carroll, and Barley each had 3 fouls.
But A-10 3rd team honoree Pat Carroll led the Hawks on a 12-1 scoring
run. Carroll dropped 8 points on the Explorers during the run,
including two three-pointers. The run took the score from 31-30 to
LaSalle scored 7 of the next 9 points before Saint
Joseph’s put the game away with a clinching 13-0 run. The frontcourt
of Dwayne Jones and John Bryant teamed up to score 8 of the 13
points. The score went from respectable (45-38) to absurd (58-38).
Saint Joseph’s scored on 54% of its attempts in the
second half. They also won the rebounding battle.
Dwayne Jones had another monster game in the
rebounding department. The freshman center gathered 13 rebounds. It
marked the 5th time this season that Jones had 10+ rebounds
in a game. Jones does not just have a knack for finding the rebound.
He has a plan of attack, “My motto is just go for the ball.” Mission
accomplished lately. His 2 blocks vs. LaSalle give him 52 blocks
through 28 games.
West was troubled by pain and although he scored 9
first half points, the Most Improved Player in the A-10 was limited to
15 minutes of game action. Tyrone Barley was unable to fill up the
scoring column in place of West. However, a major contribution was
delivered by freshman Chet Stachitas. Stachitas added 9 points on
three long-range buckets.
Freshman Dave Mallon was affected by back spasms in
the second half. He was forced to leave the game. His status in the
starting lineup is unknown at this time.
Gary Neal and Jermaine Thomas each scored 13 points
to pace the Explorers. Forward Dzaflo Larkai led the Explorers with 9
This was the 8th time the Hawks held a
team under 50 points. Saint Joseph’s (23-5) will face host Dayton in
the semifinals. The Hawks are now playing for NCAA seeding as are the
Flyers. A win by the Hawks would be Phil Martelli’s 150th
victory as head coach on Hawk Hill. Another win would also give Saint
Joseph’s a realistic chance to tie or surpass the team record of 26
wins in a season. Two of Martelli’s teams have already tied that
E-Mail the Author:
Follow St. Joseph's Basketball each
week here at Collegehoopsnet.com!