March 9, 2006
CINCINNATI (AP) - Chet Stachitas scored 17 points Thursday, and Saint Joseph's played nearly mistake-free during a 56-37 quarterfinal victory over Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Saint Joseph's (17-12) will play Temple in the semifinals. The Owls upset No. 6 George Washington 68-53 in the earlier game Thursday, opening the way for the A10 to get a second team into the NCAA tournament.
The Hawks are on a roll at the right time, having won seven in a row - their best streak of the season. Saint Joseph's made it to the tournament title game last year before losing to George Washington.
Saint Joseph's took control at the outset by avoiding mistakes - no turnovers in the opening 16 minutes. By that point, the course was set.
Saint Louis (16-13) quickly hit the wall in its first Atlantic 10 tournament. The Billikens joined the league from Conference USA, and did well enough in their inaugural season to get a first-round bye and a No. 4 seed.
However, the Billikens ended the regular season with their first back-to-back losses, and quickly hit bottom on Thursday. They had more turnovers (8) than field goals (6) in the first half, shot only 25 percent from the field and scored 14 points.
Just like that, they were done.
Stachitas also led the Hawks with a career-high nine rebounds, and Rob Ferguson added 10 points. Ian Vouyoukas led Saint Louis with 15 points.
Stachitas' 3-pointer started a 10-point run that put the Hawks in control in the first half. He also made a 3 with less than a second to go, leaving Saint Joseph's up 33-14 at halftime.
Saint Louis started the second half by getting the ball inside to Vouyoukas, its 6-foot-10, 270-pound center who had only five points in the first half. His jumper and two free throws trimmed the lead to 13 points.
That was as close as Saint Louis could get. The mistakes kept coming for the Billikens, who finished with 13 field goals and 15 turnovers.
"I've been saying it for a stretch with this team. This was predicated on the defensive end. I thought we followed the plan," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "The offensive end was crisp for a long time in the first half, but we were lousy in the second half getting something going. We got ahead of ourselves a little offensively in the second half. It played out the way we thought at the defensive end."
"I thought Chet's movement was particularly impressive, considering how well Saint Louis guards you," said the coach. "We're delighted (with the win). We're going to get some rest and we'll get here tomorrow night at five o'clock to play a team we know real well."