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Unbeaten Saint Joseph's Reaches 22

February 15, 2004|From Associated Press

Saint Joseph's stayed undefeated, but Coach Phil Martelli still found something to complain about: the Hawks' effort.

"We demand it from them every single day. We didn't get it today," Martelli said.

It was still enough for their 22nd victory.

Jameer Nelson scored 20 points and Delonte West had 14 points and nine assists to help No. 3 Saint Joseph's to a 73-59 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday at Philadelphia.

Tyrone Barley made four three-point baskets and scored 14 points for the Hawks (22-0, 11-0 Atlantic 10), who extended their school-record winning streak and remained one of two unbeaten teams in Division I. No. 2 Stanford (21-0) is the other.

Saint Joseph's struggled for most of the first half and finished the game outrebounded by 22.

The locker room was quieter than it has been most of the season after the players were lectured by Martelli. His message? Don't get caught up in the expectations and hoopla.

"Everything that's going on can go away with a snap of a finger," said Nelson, bothered by a slightly sprained right shoulder from Friday's practice. "We don't want to let that happen."

Nelson was on this week's Sports Illustrated cover, and other national publications have visited the school to find out how the small school became the season's biggest surprise.

There was an announcement after the game that for the rest of the season autographs would be signed for charities only because the individual requests had become overwhelming.

"Today I think guys were looking at the rankings and that hurt our performance today," West said. "Coach came and questioned our heart. There are going to be games like this."

Rhode Island (14-11, 3-8) was the only team with a winning record left on Saint Joseph's schedule and the Rams appeared to be the biggest threat to the undefeated regular season.

For a half, at least, Rhode Island was, trailing by only five points thanks to tight defense, a huge rebounding edge and uncharacteristically poor three-point shooting by the Hawks.

Saint Joseph's turned the game around in the opening minutes of the second half, getting two three-point baskets from Pat Carroll -- he missed both of his attempts in the first half -- during a 13-2 run that gave the Hawks a 49-33 lead.

While the Hawks didn't end with a blowout, as has been the norm for most of their wins, one result did stay the same -- the chants of "Undefeated!" from the sellout crowd.

"We don't go into every game thinking we're going to win by 30," Nelson said. "We just want to win the game."

No. 6 Mississippi State 77, Arkansas 70 -- Winsome Frazier's four late free throws helped the Bulldogs (21-1, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) win at Fayetteville, Ark., for the first time since 1972. They were 0-12 there since the Razorbacks (11-11, 3-8) joined the SEC in 1992, losing by an average of 17.8 points.

No. 7 Gonzaga 79, St. Mary's 60 -- The Bulldogs (21-2, 11-0) took control with a 16-0 run late in the second half at Moraga, Calif., to beat the Gaels (15-10, 6-4) for the 16th consecutive time and clinch the West Coast Conference regular-season title.

Gonzaga has won the regular-season championship six times in seven seasons. The Bulldogs also tied a school record with their 14th consecutive win.

Georgia 74, No. 8 Kentucky 68 -- The victory at Athens, Ga., gave the Bulldogs (12-10, 4-7 SEC) a sweep of the Wildcats in their East Division games.

Georgia, which won 65-57 on Jan. 17 at Lexington, Ky., completed its second sweep of Kentucky in three years.

Like most teams in the SEC, the Bulldogs haven't had much success in the series with the Wildcats -- they're 21-101 -- and won consecutive games in a conference season against them for only the sixth time in 83 years.

Kentucky (17-4, 7-3) played without leading scorer Gerald Fitch, who has a sprained right index finger and sat out his third consecutive game. The Wildcats committed 22 turnovers, including five by reserve guards Josh Carrier and Brandon Stockton, and shot 41% in the second half.

No. 10 Oklahoma State 91, Baylor 58 -- The Cowboys (19-2, 9-1) won their ninth in a row by routing the overmatched Bears (7-16, 2-8) at Stillwater, Okla., and took sole possession of first place in the Big 12 because No. 11 Texas was upset by Iowa State.

Oklahoma State opened the game with a 17-2 run and extended that into a 43-14 halftime lead. Baylor made only five of 34 shots (15%) and its leading scorers -- Harvey Thomas and Terrance Thomas (no relation) -- were held to two points in the first half.

Iowa State 78, No. 11 Texas 77 -- Damion Staple got the winning basket on a dunk with 1:09 left, lifting the Cyclones (14-7, 5-5 Big 12) past the Longhorns (17-4, 8-2) at Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State had been routed in its three previous games but showed resolve this time after trailing, 61-47, with less than 14 minutes left. The Cyclones outscored the Longhorns, 31-16, the rest of the way.

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