NEW YORK (AP) - Jameer Nelson lived up to the billing.
The second-leading vote-getter on the AP's preseason All-America
team had 20 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and a ton of oohs
and aahs in leading No. 17 Saint Joseph's to a 73-66 victory over
No. 10 Gonzaga in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night.
The senior guard struggled with his shot in the first half but
more than made up for it in the second as he seemed to come up with
every big play the Hawks needed in both teams' season opener.
Nelson's best sequence came when he drew a charge at midcourt, then
took the inbounds pass and made a drive through traffic that left
the crowd at Madison Square Garden standing and cheering.
More than 4,000 Saint Joseph's fans bought tickets, turning the building in New York into Philadelphia's Hawk Hill for a
night. The university with the enrollment of 3,800 was the big
school for the night.
This was the third straight year these schools have met, each time the teams played a tight game.
St. Joe's went five minutes without scoring, and the Bulldogs closed
an 11-point deficit to 66-61. But Pat Carroll banked in a 3-pointer
from just in front of the Saint Joseph's bench with 3:02 to play
and the outcome was never really in doubt.
Delonte West added 16 points for the Hawks, while Carroll and
Tyrone Barley each had 12.
Cory Violette had 13 points and 15 rebounds for Gonzaga. Senior
guard Blake Stepp, the West Coast Conference player of the year
last season, struggled through a 2-for-12 shooting night and had
Nelson finished 6-for-20 from the field but that didn't bother
the fans who chanted "You can't guard him" at any of the Gonzaga
defenders that had the assignment.
Gonzaga outrebounded the Hawks 47-32, but Saint Joseph's doubled
the Bulldogs' output from 3-point range with 12.