Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
PHILADELPHIA (03/7/02) - Saint Joseph's has perhaps its best offensive class in seniors Na'im Crenshaw, Marvin O'Connor, Bill Phillips and Damian Reid. The quartet, all 1,000-point scorers, eclipsed the 5,000-point mark in Thursday's quarterfinal game against Dayton at the First Union Spectrum. But they could not muster enough offense, however, to overcome one of the Atlantic 10's best defensive teams as the Flyers led for almost the entire contest in ousting the Hawks from the tourney, and ending any hope of an NCAA bid, 81-74. The Hawks (18-11) will now await word from the NIT on where and when their next game will be. "Our team is fueled by offense," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "In this game, we knew we were not going to have that offense. They're number one defensively for a reason." Martelli was referring to the Flyers ranking as the top field goal percentage team in the conference (.392). The Hawks entered as the league's best shooting team, hitting nearly 47 percent from the field. Defense won out on this occasion, as the Flyers held SJU to 37.5 percent in the first half, taking a 34-30 lead, and 40 percent even for the contest. It marked only the third time all year that SJU had been held to 40 percent or under for a game, the other two came against Penn. The Hawks started off sluggishly, and never seem to fully right themselves. After taking a 7-6 lead in the first four minutes, the Hawks were held scoreless over the next six minutes as the Flyers ran off 13 unanswered points to take a 19-7 lead. DJ Stelly, one of six Flyer double figure scorers (10 points), jump-started the run, hitting a trey, dishing to David Morris (12 points) for a lay-up, and nailing another three-pointer. "Having to stand back and wait for the other game (Xavier-UMass) to finish took some of the edge," explained Martelli on the slow start. "We seemed lethargic right from the beginning. A bit slow." SJU gradually cut the deficit away, pulling to within five, 24-19, on a 6-0 run at the six-minute mark of the half. The game remained close, but the Hawks were unable to pull even as the half closed with Dayton holding a 34-30 lead. After Phillips, who scored a game-high 25 points and posted his fifth double-double of the year (11 rebounds), cut the lead to two with a lay-up to start the second period, the Flyers went on a 7-0 run to build a 41-32 advantage. That lead would eventually balloon to as any as 17, 62-45 (5:41 left) before a late SJU run made the final respectable. Brooks Hall, the Flyers lone all-conference selection (3rd team), led the balanced UD attack with 13 points. 6-11 sophomore Sean Finn, who scored just two points in SJU's 70-68 win over Dayton at the Fieldhouse on February 23, posted his first double-double since the team's season-opening win over Toledo, tallying 12 points and grabbing 12 boards. Besides Phillips, Jameer Nelson, who missed the first encounter with Dayton, added 14 points and dished five assists. Crenshaw tallied 10 while O'Connor struggled from the field, hitting just 3-of-13 from the floor for eight points. That broke a 17-game streak of double figure scoring games for the Hawk scoring leader. "I would not call it a disappointment," stated Nelson on not making the NCAAs. "I'd rather be in the NCAA Tournament, but we'll go in there (NIT) trying to win games." So the Hawks, picked #10 by the Associated Press in its preseason poll, now must wait to see who its next opponent will be when the NIT selects its field Sunday evening. It may not be what most expected of the team, but the Hawks will still play, and still has a chance to go out as champions.