HAWKS DOMINATE OWLS, 73-51, IN BATTLE FOR FIRST IN A-10
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications
PHILADELPHIA (1/16/01) ? No team has dominated St. Joseph's like Temple has over the past 13 seasons. Prior to SJU's stunning 62-59 win over the #5 Owls at The Palestra on Feb. 29, 2000, Temple had won 10 straight in the series, 15 of the previous 16, and 28 of 31. But Tuesday night, in a battle for first place in the Atlantic 10, the Hawks turned the tables on their nemesis, dominating the Owls in every aspect of the game to post a convincing, 73-52 win at the Liacouras Center. It was SJU's first win in Temple's new building in four games, and just the second overall on North Broad Street in 16 contests. "I want to read about our two game win streak over Temple," laughed SJU coach Phil Martelli in the postgame media conference. "I read about our 10 game losing streak so much." The game started out as one would expect from a "Big Five" clash, each team trading baskets. With the game deadlocked at 9-9 at the first media timeout, Temple inserted 6-9 junior Kevin Lyde (12.6 ppg., 8.9 rpg.), a normal starter who sat out the first five minutes due to missing a practice for community service. Then Na'im Crenshaw, who had also subbed in during the timeout, drilled a three-pointer from the right corner to ignite a 12-2 run that would give SJU the lead, 21-11 - for good. SJU's defense, the best in the A-10 against the three-point shot, shut down the Temple offense while Marvin O'Connor and Crenshaw played smothering defense on the Owls' leading scorer Lynn Greer (16.9 ppg.). Temple, which shot 19.4 percent in the first half (28.8% overall), missed 15 shots in a row during the 12-2 SJU run. "Marvin and Na'im guarding Lynn Greer (8 PTS, 3-16 FGs) was the difference," stated the Hawk coach on his defensive strategy. "We wanted to put a bigger guy on him. He has just been dynamite and we wanted to put a bigger guy on him to make sure some of his shots were at least arched a little higher." Also big defensively was the play of SJU's center combo of Damian Reid and Alexandre Sazonov. The duo effectively shutdown Lyde, holding the Temple big man to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting. He also only pulled down three offensive rebounds, significant as he came in as the nation's leader (4.4 per game) in that category. Offensively, SJU displayed what may be the best passing game in the nation to a wider audience. The Hawks dished 11 assists on 14 baskets in the first half, and 19 on 25 for the game. "We came in, there was a calm," said Martelli on the mood of the team during pregame. "That would be the team's greatest strength. Sharing the basketball, 19 assists on 25 field goals, but there is a calm, like they are not too high, or too low." "I do not think there is any underestimating Marvin's growth as a sharer of the ball," Martelli added on the team's unselfish play. "Despite the fact that he has a couple over-30 point games, he is more than willing. He plays to win." Jameer Nelson was again the key for SJU, running the team's offense to perfection. The freshman point guard tied for team scoring honors with 16 points, hitting 5-of-6 shots, while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing seven assists. He also made a spinning, 180-layup at the 8:56 mark of the first half during the Hawks' breakout run and then banked home a trey with 1:30 left in the stanza to push the lead to 19, at 34-15. "The reason we are successful is because our older guys got better," explained Martelli about Nelson's impact to the media horde. "If they were not better, the fact you have a brilliant point guard would not mean anything. He has come onto a good team and made a good team better." In their first game at the Liacouras Center, the Hawks led by 17 in the first half, and 12 at intermission. So there was an uncertainty at the start of the second stanza. Could SJU hold a lead against Temple? The answer was a resounding yes. Strong from the perimeter (7 threes, 60.9% shooting) in the first half, the Hawks pounded the ball inside in the second, a strategy generally unheard of against Temple. It worked, however, as Reid scored all 12 of his points in the second half, working against the bulkier Lyde. The closest the Owls came was 14, after consecutive three-pointers by Quincy Wadley (15 points). "I am just proud of the way we played tonight," stated O'Connor, who tallied 16 and dished six assists. "We played as a team, and we are just taking it game by game." Freshman guard David Hawkins led Temple, 10-8, 4-1 in A-10 play, with 18 points. O'Connor and Crenshaw matched Nelson for scoring honors with 16. Bill Phillips, who was tied with Nelson for second on the Hawks in scoring (12.4 ppg.) coming in, took just two shots, hitting one, for three points. He did, however, grab five of his seven rebounds in the second half. Reid led all rebounders with eight while Sazonov blocked three shots to up his team high total to 30. SJU, which has matched its best start, 14-3, 5-0, since the 1985-86 season, will now travel to Cincinnati to finish its "Hell Week" with a Saturday date against Xavier (Noon, Comcast SportsNet/WPEN 950 AM).