Hawks Blow Past Catamounts in Season Opener
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications
Nashville, TN - St. Joseph's opened its 2000-01 season in rare form, posting a 103-53 win over Western Carolina in the America's Youth Classic. The 50-point margin of victory was the largest by a SJU team since December 30, 1983, when Tony Costner tied the school-record 47 points to lead the Hawks to a 106-54 win over Alaska-Anchorage in the consolation game of the Cable Car Classic. It was also the largest margin of victory against a Division I opponent since December 15, 1971, a 128-66 SJU rout of Nevada-Reno at the Palestra. "You start every year with a knot in your stomach, not sure how you are going to play," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "The 16-0 start took the pressure off." "When we shoot 62 percent we are going to win a lot of ball games," he added. "We also put five guys in double figures, but we must do better off the glass. And the 24 assists on 38 field goals is spectacular basketball." The Hawks looked to be in mid-season form at the outset taking a 16-0 lead in the first four minutes on the inside-outside combo of Damian Reid (4 pts) and Marvin O'Connor (5). O'Connor, who had his way offensively, led all scorers with a game-high 23 points while playing just 26 minutes. The Catamounts, a member of the Southern Conference, matched the Hawks over the next three minutes, tallying four points to keep the margin at 16, 20-4 with 13:13 to play in the half. Then SJU put the game away with a 10-0 spurt to stretch the lead to 30-4 with 9:16 left before intermission. Senior guard Erick Woods had an incredible game for SJU, tallying a career-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field (2-3 from 3-point range). Junior Bill Phillips started off the year strong, hitting for a double-double (15, 11 rebs.), just his second as a Hawk. Fellow senior Frank Wilkins looks to have regained his shooting stroke, hitting 4-of-8 from the field (3-6 from "three") for 11 points. Freshman Jameer Nelson lived up to his billing as well, scoring 11 while dishing off eight assists. The eight assists matches the high for SJU for the 1999-2000 season. That was accomplished by Tim Brown at Villanova (2/17/00). Freshman Tyrone Barley also played well backing up Nelson, dishing six assists in 19 minutes. "We wanted to be confident," stated Woods on the team's mindset going in. ""We wanted to have balance and we always wanted to be on the attack. I think we did all of those things." The Hawks now must face South Carolina State, a 65-60 loser, in the opener of the Classic to host Vanderbilt. The tournament features a round-robin format with SJU taking on Vandy on Sunday.