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EASTERN WASHINGTON STUNS #9 SAINT JOSEPH'S, 68-67, IN BCA CLASSIC
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
BERKELEY, CA (11/15/01) ? Small school from small league knocks off nationally-ranked team with gutsy performance. A familiar script for Saint Joseph's men's basketball fans. This time, however, the shoe was on the other foot as little-known Eastern Washington made national headlines on Thursday night with a stunning 68-67 win over #9 Saint Joseph's in the first round of the Black Coaches Association Classic. It was the season opener for both teams. "Hopefully we'll just take this as a lesson learned," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "No matter who you play if you shoot free throws like that, don't box out and commit 22 turnovers you're going to get beat." The Hawks started the game slowly, falling behind the Eagles, 11-6, in the first four minutes. The team then regrouped, pulling even at 11, and then surging out to a 32-19 lead with 6:09 to play in the half on the strength of a 9-2 run. Eastern Washington responded with a 14-0 run with Jason Humpert (16 points) and Darren Cooper (13) tallying five each to lead the way. The Hawks then realized that this well-coached, gritty team was in it for the long haul. "Sometimes when you're in a street fight, you have to deliver the first blow," Martelli said. "We didn't then and they pretty much took it to us the entire 40 minutes." The second half was not pretty for either side. SJU matched its turnover total from the first half (11) to finish with 22 for the game. Eight of those turnovers came on offensive fouls, a stat that the Eagles pride themselves on. After shooting 60.9 percent in the first half (14-23), the Hawks missed the mark in the second stanza, at times on easy chances, connecting on just 12-of-28 from the field (42.9%). But rebounding eventually did them in, especially off the offensive glass. The Eagles won the battle of the boards, 39-28, pulling down 17 offensive caroms. That proved costly, especially in the waning minutes. Holding a 53-50 lead with just under seven minutes to play, SJU seemed to again be ready to pull away. But after a Marvin O'Connor missed free throw, the Eagles went on a 15-5 run to take a 65-58 lead with 1:20 remaining. With O'Connor, the Hawks' leading scorer with 19 points, on the bench after just picking up his fifth foul, all appeared lost for SJU. The other half of the team's highly-regarded backcourt, Jameer Nelson, was not having one of his better games. He dished nine assists, but hit only 1-of-8 shots and committed six turnovers. But a Na'im Crenshaw layup, a Tyrone Barley steal and free throw and a Bill Phillips three-pointer pulled SJU to within one, 65-54, just 16 seconds later at the 1:04 mark. Chris Hester, who led all scorers with 20, hit his biggest basket, a follow shot with 20 seconds remaining, to bring the margin back to three, 67-64. Delonte West cut it back to one just three seconds later on a tip-in. Crenshaw then fouled Cooper who hit one-of-two free throws to set up the wild finish. Nelson drove the left baseline and launched one of his patented one-handed runners. It rimmed off with the rebound bouncing around and into the hands of West who was fouled. The Hawk freshman drained the first one, but, following an Eagle timeout, missed the second. Crenshaw came up with the rebound, but his last second shot was off the mark and Eastern Washington celebrated perhaps its biggest upset in school history. Besides O'Connor, Damian Reid tallied 14 points and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. Crenshaw added 11. The Hawks two newcomers, West and John Bryant, each added five points while playing double figure minutes. SJU will play Princeton (0-1), a 70-58 loser to host California in the nightcap. That game will tip-off at 9:00 PM EST.