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HAWKS CLINCH A-10 EAST TITLE WITH 75-59 WIN OVER RICHMOND
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
PHILADELPHIA (03/01/03) - There was no pile-up at center court. There wasn't a trophy presentation or even a mention of it to the soldout Fieldhouse crowd. With tonight's 75-59 win over Richmond, Saint Joseph's wrapped up the Atlantic 10 East Division crown. But for a team that has much higher aspirations, it was no surprise that the championship went unnoticed. At halftime of the game, SJU honored its last All-American and only Olympian, Mike Bantom, by retiring his #44 jersey. On the court though, it was Jameer Nelson's night. The junior scored 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting and controlled the floor, especially with starting backcourt mate Delonte West sidelined. The team's leading scorer scored 12 points in 13 minutes before leaving after aggravating his stress fracture with 5:35 left in the first half. The Hawks' (21-4, 11-3 A-10) defensive effort, however, was what caught the attention of head coach Phil Martelli. Junior Tyrone Barley continued to be the on the ball specialist, and according to the post-game press conference, tells his coach who he will guard. And when you have arguably the conference's best defensive player, he listens. "The defense is the cornerstone of this team," Martelli said. "Tyrone Barley is amazing defensively. He tells me who he's going to guard, and we go from there." Up 16-12 midway through the second half, St. Joe's went on a 12-3 run over four minutes to take a double-digit lead. For the rest of the contest, the lead wouldn't drop under ten points. Eight of the points came from layups, two by West, and one each from Nelson and sophomore Pat Carroll (10 points). SJU would score the first four points of the second half to take a 41-25 advantage. For the rest of the game, the teams essentially traded baskets. Senior Alexandre Sazonov scored seven points and added seven boards in one of his best outings of the season. SJU shot 51% from the field and committed 12 turnovers, just three in the second half. Surprisingly, the Spiders shot 54% from behind the arc against the A-10's best three-point defensive team. Jamaal Scott led the Spiders (13-12, 7-7) with 16 points. No other Spiders reached double-digits. Next up for Saint Joseph's is nationally ranked Xavier, who comes to town on Wednesday, March 5. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. "It should be interesting on Wednesday night," Martelli said. "You're going to see an atmosphere that you will never forget."