Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
KINGSTON, RI (01/09/02) ? For 30 minutes it looked as if the ghosts of Keaney Gymnasium had been resurrected and were haunting the visiting Saint Joseph's Hawks. In their last appearance at one of the oldest gyms in NCAA Division I basketball, the Hawks were in a fight for their lives with the undermanned Rams. SJU, a prohibitive favorite, was in an unexpected dogfight, tied with URI, 63-63 with just over nine minutes to play. Then, thankfully, senior Marvin O'Connor vanquished the ghosts, scoring seven of his game-high 29 points in a 14-2 SJU run to lead the Hawks to an 87-71 win. "It was like having to be like a boxer in a workout gym," stated SJU coach Phil Martelli after his team went the distance to pick up its eighth win against four defeats. "I have heard all this about their talent level (being down), but every game they have fought. Jim Baron is not going to let them not fight." The Hawks may not have expected to be in such a battle, but to their credit, they were up to the challenge. O'Connor, who was his old self, hitting key three-pointers while shooting 10-of-15 overall and 5-of-10 from long range, led four Hawk double figure scorers. "I am not 100 percent but I am definitely coming along," said the Hawk All-American. "I got some good looks off some decent screens from my teammates and I just happened to hit shots." Senior Bill Phillips, who has been on fire of late, scored 17 points on 6-of-9 from the field (3-5 from 3-point range). Among his 17 points were his 1,000th of his career. Sophomore Jameer Nelson tallied 15 points and dished nine assists while Na'im Crenshaw topped double figures for the 11th time this year with 13 points. From the end of the first half, where SJU cut a seven-point deficit to one (36-35) in the final minute, through the entire second half, the Hawks were unstoppable on offense. SJU hit 17-of-26 from the field (7-13 from 3-point range) over the final 20 minutes. And of the team's nine misses, the Hawks pulled down five offensive rebounds. "If you shoot 65 percent as we did in the second half there is not a lot that people can do with us," added Martelli. It also helped that the Hawks defended better in the second half too. SJU held URI without a field goal from the 9:50 mark until Dustin Hellenga (11 points) hit a layup with eight seconds remaining. The Hawks also used a balanced rebounding attack to win the glass, 35-21. Four Hawks - Phillips, O'Connor, Crenshaw and Nelson - all grabbed six rebounds to lead the way. Next up for SJU, 8-4, 2-0 in A-10, is the Atlantic 10 Holy War, as St. Bonaventure invades Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Sunday (2:00 PM/CSN/WPEN 950 AM) for a key East Division showdown.