NELSON LEADS HAWKS TO JAMEER-ACLE FINISH
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications
PHILADELPHIA, PA (2-1-01) -- Is it better to be lucky or good? Tonight, before a sold-out, rollicking crowd at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, Saint Joseph's was both. In a contest that featured high quality basketball by both teams, the Hawks rode the wave of a miraculous buzzer-beater at the end of regulation by Jameer Nelson to a 104-97 overtime victory over St. Bonaventure. It was a game that was well-played in nearly all facets. Every player who scored for the Hawks hit double figures. Nine of ten starters on both sides of the court wound up with at least 11 points. Three Bonnies scored at least 20, including J.R. Bremer, who hit for a game-high 30 points by going on a three-point binge in the second half. Yet somehow, despite shooting 53% from the field and outrebounding the Bonnies by a 50-32 margin, the Hawks found themselves trailing by five, 86-81, with only 22 ticks on the clock, setting the stage for Nelson's heroics. With St. Bonaventure defending the perimeter, he drove for a basket to cut the lead to three, at 86-83. Playing with four fouls, Nelson avoided fouling Bremer on the next trip down the court despite being the only player near enough to hack him, instead waiting for Tyrone Barley to catch up and do the honors. Bremer connected on one of two free throws to stretch the lead back to four, at 87-83. Robert Cheeks fouled Marvin O'Connor on the Hawks' next possession, who sank both foul shots to cut the lead to two before Saint Joseph's fouled Marques Green with 4.7 seconds remaining. Green missed the second of two attempts, leaving the window open for a comeback. It nearly closed in a hurry. After grabbing the rebound, Erick Woods hesitated for a second before throwing an outlet to Nelson, who streaked downcourt before pulling up thrity feet from the basket and letting it fly. Asked if he thought Woods was ever going to pass him the ball, Nelson said, "It looked like Erick was in kind of a daze, so I screamed at him. 'Woods!' Then he picked up his head, and threw me the ball, because I was the closest guy to him. Everyone else was running down the court. "They left me wide open, not knowing that I have thirty foot range." Asked following the game if he was disappointed in his defense, given the score of the game, Hawks coach Phil Martelli replied, "Not at all. I think that they have good perimeter players. We held them to 45%, and made them make some shots. "But still, the kid misses a free throw, they're up three, and they think it's over. You could put 'Duke' on their jersey, 'St. Bonaventure' , or 'Milwaukee Bucks.' The kids assume that it's over, that only a miraculous shot can beat them. And that's what it was." Martelli summed up Nelson's coming-of-age before he surrendered the podium to his point guard. "You make a shot like that, you can become a legend in a hurry."