Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
PHILADELPHIA (01/11/03) - There's no question that junior All-American candidate Jameer Nelson is the leader of the Saint Joseph's (11-1, 3-0) men's basketball team. But on an afternoon where the Chester, Pa. native put his scoring on the backburner in the first half, the Hawks received 12 points from senior center Alexandre Sazonov to coast to a 76-47 Atlantic 10 win over visiting Massachusetts (6-8, 0-2). Sophomore Delonte West led all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Nelson ended with 12 points and eight assists (seven in the first half), despite taking a season-low 10 shots. Sazonov though was the story of the first half, shooting six for six from the floor, including five in an early 14-4 run that set the tone for the entire game. The Moscow product was just one away from his career high in points (13). "The start that Alexandre Sazonov was quite significant," head coach Phil Martelli said. "If we can get inside presence, then we're going to get closer and closer to being good. In the league, you have to defend your home court and that's what we did." Despite receiving just five points from a starting backcourt that had been averaging nearly 35 points per game, the Hawks took a 33-23 lead into the lockerroom at the half. "I was really delighted at halftime to be leading by 10. Two things came up; other guys and our defense was rock solid, we only gave up 23 points in the half," Martelli said. As well as the team played in the first stanza, a six-minute bonanza to start the second was one of the better stretches the Crimson and Gray has played all season. SJU forced six turnovers on five steals and a block on its way to a 19-5 run that gave the Hawks a 52-28 advantage with 14:14 to go. Sazanov started off the run with a layup and Nelson finished it with two straight buckets. A 70 percent shooting rate from the floor in the second gave St. Joe's a 60.5% mark for the contest. It was the best shooting percentage against a UMass team since Xavier hit for the same percentage on February 1, 1997. It also qualified as a season best, while overshadowing a chilly 58% from the charity stripe. "We shot 70% in the second half? We should renege on foul shooting and just take it on offense," Martelli said. Junior center Chris Cologer came off the bench to tie a career high with seven points. Micah Brand led UMass with 10 points, while Jackie Rogers added nine. Saint Joseph's forced 26 turnovers, nearly a season high, and held the Minutemen to just 41% from the floor. Proving just how good the SJU defense has been, the 41% was the second best shooting performance against the Hawks this season. Up next for the Hawks is a visit up Broad Street to take on Atlantic 10 and Big Five rival Temple on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Inquirer Story