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It's Loss No. 1 for the No. 1 Team

Saint Joseph's 27-game winning streak is ended by Xavier in a humbling 87-67 loss.

March 12, 2004|From Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — From perfect to pummeled.

Saint Joseph's first game as the nation's No. 1 team also was its first loss, a shocking 87-67 collapse against unranked Xavier in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals Thursday.

The Hawks entered with a 27-0 record, three victories from becoming the first team since 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated. But they trailed Xavier by as many as 37 points, and the upset raises questions about how serious a contender the tiny Philadelphia school will be for the national championship.

The rout also tarnishes a magical run by a team that was one of the biggest surprises in sports this year, and it could cost Saint Joseph's a top seeding in the NCAAs.

"This was our 20th game away from our own fieldhouse," Hawk Coach Phil Martelli said. "We're 19-1 in those games. [The NCAA selection committee] will understand that. The committee will do us right because of our body of work. Not 40 minutes."

It's the biggest loss ever by a No. 1 team against an unranked team and equals the seventh-biggest defeat by a top-ranked team against anyone.

A partisan crowd began rubbing it in midway through the second half, chanting "Sloppy Joe's!"

Romain Sato led Xavier (21-10) with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Lionel Chalmers scored 23, and Anthony Myles had 19.

Saint Joseph's backcourt stars Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were held to a combined 11-for-35 shooting, and scored 16 points each. Xavier made 71.1% of its shots, and held Saint Joseph's to 35.4% -- its worst showing all season.

"Any loss is devastating, especially when you work so hard," Nelson said. "We take pride in our defense, and we let ourselves down with our defense today."

Xavier will face George Washington -- a 79-50 winner over Rhode Island -- in the semifinals tonight.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

No. 1 Embarrassments

Largest margins of defeat for Associated Press No. 1-ranked teams:

*--* MRG SCOR E, DATE , SITE 41 NO. 2 KENT UCKY 81, NO. 1 ST. JOHN 'S 40 Dec. 17, 1951 at Lexi ngto n, Ky. 32 NO. 2 UCLA 101, NO. 1 HOUS TON 69 Marc h 22, 1968 in Los Ange les at Spor ts Aren a (nat iona l semi fina l) 24 NO. 2 NORT H CARO LINA 97, NO. 1 DUKE 73 Feb. 5, 1998 at Chap el Hill , N.C. 24 NO. 3 MASS ACHU SETT S 104, NO. 1 ARKA NSAS 80 Nov. 25, 1994 at Spri ngfi eld, Mass 23 NO. 15 VILL ANOV A 96, NO. 1 CONN ECTI CUT 73 Feb. 18, 1995 at Stor rs, Conn . 22 NO. 5 OKLA HOMA 100, NO. 1 KANS AS 78 Feb. 27, 1990 at Norm an, Okla . 20 *XAV IER 87, NO. 1 SAIN T JOSE PH'S 67 Marc h 11, 2004 at Dayt on, Ohio (Atl anti c 10 tour name nt) 20 NO. 17 GEOR GIA TECH 89, NO. 1 NORT H CARO LINA 69 Jan. 12, 1994 at Atla nta 20 NO. 13 NORT H CARO LINA 91, NO. 1 DUKE 71 Jan. 18, 1989 at Durh am, N.C. 20 NO. 5 ARIZ ONA STAT E 87, NO. 1 OREG ON STAT E 67 Marc h 7, 1981 at Corv alli s, Ore. * largest margin of defeat of a No. 1 team by an unranked team.

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