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MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS WITH IMPRESSIVE 85-58 WIN AT BOSTON COLLEGE
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  09/01/2004
CHESTNUT HILL, MA - One team returned just one starter from a NIT season. The other had four starters back from a NCAA season. The latter was also playing at home, where it has a 28-5 record over the last two seasons. The perfect setting for a one-sided game - and it was. But it was the less-experienced Saint Joseph's Hawks that stunned the favored Boston College Eagles, 85-58, on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams. Saint Joseph's, led by the brilliant play of junior point guard Jameer Nelson and the sharp-shooting of sophomore forward Pat Carroll, jumped out to a 22-4 lead early on and never trailed. Boston College, coached by former URI mentor Al Skinner, did cut into the lead, narrowing it to as few as four points, 46-42, early in the second half, but never was able to get closer. "He is the best point guard in America," extolled Hawk coach Phil Martelli on Nelson. "I would not trade him for anybody." Nelson, who had been snubbed by many of the so-called college basketball experts in the preseason list of the nation's top playmakers, had the media raving following the contest. He outplayed the Eagles' senior point guard Troy Bell, a teammate of Nelson's on the 2001 USA Basketball team that captured the gold medal at the Championship for Young Men. The Hawk floor general tallied game-highs of 22 points and eight assists while Bell struggled all night, hitting just 2-of-14 from the field for eight points while distributing four assists. Bell and his running mate, junior Ryan Sidney, were named the best backcourt in the nation this season by The Basketball News. After scoring just two points in the first half, Sidney broke out for 11 in the second stanza, including 10 in the first five minutes of the frame when BC made its best run at SJU. But then the Hawks' perimeter defense, made up of Nelson, Delonte West, Dwayne Lee and Tyrone Barley, put the clamps on the Eagles. "We are delighted that Gene DeFillipo (BC Athletic Director) and Al Skinner take a chance to play us," stated Martelli on the first regular season meeting of the two Jesuit schools since 1978. "Teams on this level normally do not open (their schedules) like this. They would rather play the Little Sisters of the Poor and not take a chance with an Atlantic 10." Carroll, who tied a school-record for three-point percentage by hitting all five of his shots from long range, set the tone for SJU early. He drained three straight treys and a two-pointer over a 150-second span to put the Hawks on top 14-2. He went on to tally a career-high 19 points on 6-of-7 shots from the field. "Yesterday in practice he did not miss a shot," stated Martelli on Carroll. "We practiced for two hours at home yesterday. I bet you he was 13-for-13. He is just a kid who did not get a chance last year. He can really shoot the ball and when you play with a premier point guard you just have to be set to pull the trigger." Sophomore John Bryant gave the Hawks a lift off the bench, scoring a career-high 12 points while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. The bench was more than just one player for SJU on this night as Martelli went 11 deep in the first half. All told, the Hawks got 41 of their 85 points off the pine with Barley tallying a career-high eight points to go along with his five rebounds and four assists and Dwayne Jones adding seven points and six rebounds. Sophomore Delonte West also hit double figures for SJU, tallying 11 points and five assists. SJU's defense limited BC to just one three-pointer (11 attempts) in the contest, that not coming until 6:07 remained in the game. "We were #1 from three-point range in the Atlantic 10 two years ago and last year we were 10th. And tonight they should not have had the one," added Martelli on his perimeter defense. Uka Agbai and Will Smith led the Eagles with 16 and 15 points, respectively. The Hawks next travel to Buffalo to take on Canisius on Tuesday night (7 p.m.).