PHILADELPHIA (01/05/03) - Saint Joseph's used a season-high 18 steals to force 24 turnovers on their way to a 76-56 victory over Duquesne (6-8, 0-1) in the Atlantic 10 opener for both teams. Junior Jameer Nelson swiped seven steals, a career high, and added 22 points in the win. SJU (9-1, 1-0) continues their best start since 1964-65, a team that started 10-0 on their way to the NCAA Tournament. "Steals and turnovers are the product of good basketball. We were able to get the steals because of great pressure all across the court," head coach Phil Martelli said. In the early going, the Crimson and Gray showed no sign of a let-down from Tuesday's overtime win at Gonzaga, a victory that snapped the 'Zags 29-game winning streak at the Kennel. Sophomore Pat Carroll kicked off the game with a three at the 19:26 mark, followed by a Nelson three-ball two minutes later. A tip-in by senior Alexandre Sazanov and a sophomore Delonte West pull-up jumper gave SJU a 10-2 lead before the first media timeout. Saint Joseph's extended their lead to 23-8 midway through the first half. The game had the looks of a blowout after freshman Chet Stachitas (career high nine-points) connected on both free throws at the 2:14 mark. It gave the Hawks 36-19 lead, their largest of the first half. "We had great energy in the first half," Martelli said. Duquesne fought back to cut the lead to just 11 at the half on a bucket by Simplice Njoya, two free throws by Elija Palmer and a three by Jimmy Tricco. At the half, Saint Joseph's nursed just a 37-26 lead. The Hawks held the Dukes to 31.3% shooting and made 60% of their own three-point field goals. DU's Kevin Forney, a Philly native, scored the first seven points of the second half, slicing the lead to 37-33 before Martelli called a 30-second timeout to stop the bleeding. After a West foul shot, Forney responded with a reverse layup at the 16:48 mark, his ninth point in three minutes. The Dukes cut the lead to two points, but that was as close as they would get. Leading 46-42, St. Joe's went on a 12-0 run to break the game open. Carroll hit on a fade-away and a nifty reverse layup to start the streak at the 11:23 mark and brought the house down with a three from the wing two minutes later. It gave the Hawks a 58-42 lead that would only increase as they game closed. Nelson then put on a show, going on a 8-0 run himself to build the lead to its largest of the contest. A three at the 8:03 mark, a steal and layup and another steal comprised the bulk of the exhibit and he capped it with a pull-up jumper from the elbow before exiting to a standing ovation from the soldout Fieldhouse crowd of 3,200. Saint Joseph's received solid efforts from West, who scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting before suffering a mild ankle sprain late in the second half. Carroll added 13 points, while West and sophomore John Bryant shared the team lead with six boards. Despite being 9-1, the Hawks aren't ready to rest on their laurels. "One thing this team hasn't gotten is satisfied. I think we're still a work in progress," Martelli said. The win was the sixth consecutive over the Dukes, and the 12th in the last 13 meetings. Forney tied a career high with 22 points in his homecoming and garnered a game-high seven boards. The Dukes shot just 35.8% from the floor. The Hawks continue their league schedule as they travel to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday at 7 pm. Daily News Story | Inquirer Story Pat Carroll photograph courtesy of Greg Carroccio, Sideline Photos, LLC