#23 HAWKS RUN PAST FLYERS, 82-72
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications
Dayton, OH (2/21/01) - Like he has done so many times in this magical season, junior Marvin O'Connor put his team on his back and carried them to a huge 82-72 win over a strong Dayton team in one of the toughest places to play in the Atlantic 10, the University of Dayton Arena in front of 13,553 Flyers fans. O'Connor, who is making a strong case for A-10 Player of the Year honors, hit his first five three-point attempts en route to a career-high eight treys. The 6-4 guard ended the night with 30 points as the Hawks defended their first national ranking since the 1996-97 season with their fifth conference road win in six attempts. It also kept the Hawks lead in the race for the regular season title to a comfortable two games. "I pretty much got going early," said O'Connor on his night. "Got great screens from our big men. I got some good looks and I knocked them down. Seems as if I get going early it is good for us as far as the team." "I know there is conversation about Player of the Year, and I love my guys," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli, who guided his team to its eighth straight win and 16th of the last 17. "That is a big time performance. You do not get 30 on the road and shoot 8-13 from three." O'Connor's heroics were very timely as SJU played with its standout freshman point guard Jameer Nelson suffering from flu-like symptoms and his backup, Tyrone Barley, also sick. Nelson, who was being fed hotdog rolls prior to the game and at halftime to garner strength, played despite the illness. He was not his usual self, but fought through it to finish with 10 points, five assists and six rebounds. Barley, who did not make practice at the Dayton Fieldhouse on Monday, contributed his normal steady perfomance off the bench, dishing three assists (0 turnovers) over four minutes. Junior Bill Phillips was also off his game, offensively, missing all eight field goal attempts. Despite being held scoreless for the second time in his SJU career, Phillips posted a team-high nine rebounds and dished three assists. "To get a win in these circumstances is as good as it can get for today," explained Martelli. "I do not quantitate the wins, nor qualify them. That is the win that we had to have tonight. We shot 50 percent on the road, 85 percent from the foul line, which is unusual for us. I thought if we could win the battle of the boards to be honest with you we could win the game, and we won by thre (35-32)." With two of its top three guns off the mark, senior Na'im Crenshaw came off the bench to lift the team with a season-high 18 points and fellow senior Frank Wilkins also posted a season high, connecting on all five of his shots for 12 points. The game was filled with runs. The Hawks broke open a close game midway through the first half with a 23-7 run over a six minute span to take a commanding 43-20 lead with just 4:30 remaining before intermission. O'Connor led that charge, nailing three straight trifectas with Crenshaw and Wilkins also connecting from long range. Dayton rallied back to cut the margin to 14, 43-29, at intermission, then charged out of the gates in the second stanza to complete what would be a 22-0 run by scoring the half's first 13 points. Senior guard Tony Stanley, who was held to just six points in the first half, exploded in the second. The 2000 second team all-conference performer hit three treys in the first six minutes of the second half, the last tying the score at 48 with 14:15 to play. SJU then went on an 8-0 run to take control again, 56-48, as O'Connor answered the bell with two three-pointers. The Hawks built the lead back to 12, 66-54, at the 9:47 mark as O'Connor continued his hot hand with another "three" and a fastbreak layup. The Flyers never got closer than seven the remainder of the game. "To answer that crowd when it was a one-point game, Na'im Crenshaw hit a monster three then he had two foul shots and another three," stated Martelli . "We played with a great amount of courage and needed all 82 points to win the game." Stanley led the Flyers (16-10, 7-6 in A-10), who were in desperate need of the win to not only keep their slim NCAA hopes alive but also to secure a bye in the conference tournament, with 19 points. Senior forward Yuanta Holland came off the bench to post a double-double (16 pts, 11 rebs) while junior guard David Morris added 11 points. The Hawks, now 22-4, 12-1, next travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Duquesne Dukes on Sunday (2:00/Comcast SportsNet/WPEN 950).