PITTSBURGH, PA (2/25/01) - It happens to all teams, good or bad, a flat game. And that was what the 23rd ranked St. Joseph's Hawks were caught up in with the host Duquesne Dukes. Duquesne (9-19, 3-12), hungry for an upset which would make its dismal season, controlled the first half, holding a nine-point lead, 23-14, at the midpoint. But, as what has happened throughout this magical ride that is the 2000-01 SJU season, someone stepped up. This time, that someone was reserve guard Tyrone Barley. The 6-1 freshman from Seton Hall Prep, who has been used basically as a spot player for A-10 Rookie of the Year candidate Jameer Nelson, ignited an 8-0 Hawk run in the final two minutes of the first half to propel SJU to a 39-37 lead at intermission. The Hawks would take control in the second half en route to a 90-70 win. Barley, who played his most minutes (9) in a month, did not score, but his defense of Courtney Wallace (21 points), especially in the second half (6 pts), was a key factor in the Hawks ninth straight win and 23rd of the season. "Tyrone Barley at the end of the half really helped turn the game around," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli, who became just the 15th coach to notch 50 Atlantic 10 wins. "That little spurt at the end of the first half really turned it." "To take the lead was big," added Barley. "Any spark I can give the team. I am playing behind the best point guard in the country, so whatever is best for the team I will do." Offensively, it was again a Marvin O'Connor highlight show. The Atlantic 10 co-Player of the Week tallied 19 of his game-high 28 points in the first half when the Hawks were struggling. And in the second half he made a phenomenal behind the back pass to Bill Phillips for a slam at the 12:46 mark to give SJU its first double digit lead, 56-45. "We have a lot of veteran guys who have been here awhile and we know what it is like when we get down and we can not panic," stated O'Connor on the first half. "That can't possibly help things so we just try and maintain our composure and go out and try and execute." Duquesne ran off seven straight after that to cut the margin to four, 56-52, but a 12-1 SJU run over the next three minutes made it a 68-53 blowout. O'Connor's fifth three-pointer capped the run. Senior Frank Wilkins again turned in a fine performance, hitting double figures for the second straight game with a season high 14 points. Nelson, despite early foul trouble, recorded his fourth double digit assist game (10) and closed to within six of Matt Guokas, Jr.'s 35-year-old season mark for assists (176). Phillips added 10 for the Hawks to go along with six rebounds while sixth man Na'im Crenshaw tallied eight points, six rebounds and four assists despite fighting off the flu. Even young Phil Martelli got into the offense, tallying two points with fellow "bench mobber" Mike Farrelly dishing two assists. The Hawks, 23-4, 13-1, clinched at least a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10. A win over UMass on Tuesday (9:30 PM/ESPN2/WPEN 950 AM) will give SJU the top seed in the Verizon Atlantic 10 Championships.
RELATED