March 23, 2005
By JOEL ANDERSON
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Pat Carroll scored 22 points and Dwayne Lee added 13, including a big 3-pointer with 76 seconds left, to lead Saint Joseph's to a 58-51 win over Texas A&M in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Lee drilled a 3 from the corner that gave the Hawks a 51-46 lead, then he made two free throws. Carroll added four straight free throws to clinch the victory.
Saint Joseph's (23-11) advanced to the NIT semifinals in New York and will face Memphis next Tuesday night.
Playing their fourth game in eight days and seventh in 14, the Hawks managed to hold off the Aggies with another smothering defensive effort and some timely baskets by Carroll.
St. Joe's, holding NIT opponents to just 51 points, hardly ever gave A&M an open look at the basket. The Hawks banged around Wright and freshman center Joseph Jones throughout the game and relied on their defense because their offense never got on track.
They had as many field goals as turnovers (6) in the unsightly first half, shooting just 26 percent and making only one field goal from inside the 3-point arc. But St. Joe's still went into the break with a 27-19 lead, mostly because A&M shot only 32 percent, and Jones and point guard Acie Law got in early foul trouble.
Early in the second half, Law started an 11-0 run with a layup. Marlon Pompey ended the spurt with a short jumper, giving A&M its first lead at 32-31 and rousing the school-record crowd of 13,151.
In between, Wright took control on both ends of the floor, making a deep three over Carroll and then forcing Carroll to shoot an airball as the shot clock expired on the next possession. Wright later poked away a pass and drove in for a three-point play, cutting Saint Joe's lead to 40-39.
But Carroll recovered to keep the Hawks from collapsing down the stretch, coming off a screen for a three and snaking his way into the lane for jumper.
SJU center Dwayne Jones broke open the game by making a thunderous two-handed slam despite being fouled. He made the free throw to complete the three-point play, giving the Hawks a 48-44 lead with 2:25 left.
Jones finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and totally frustrated his counterpart, Joseph Jones.
Joseph Jones, who had been averaging 19.5 points in the previous two NIT games, had only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.
The Hawks came up with a dramatic end to an improbably successful first season by A&M coach Billy Gillispie. The Aggies made the nation's biggest turnaround with a 14-game improvement from the 7-21 finish last season that got Melvin Watkins fired.
It will be the second appearance in the NIT Semifinals for the Hawks under Phil Martelli as the coach guided SJU to the tournament in New York during his first season in 1995-96. The Hawks lost to Nebraska in the championship game.
Saint Joseph's, which started the year 3-6, has now won 20 games in the calendar year of 2005.