PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli never
worried when Jameer Nelson had trouble shooting in the first half.
Not when Nelson was a disruption defensively and coolly led the
rest of the offense.
"His game is all the other numbers," Martelli said. "He's
like an extension. He has great recognition as to what has to be
Nelson found his stroke in the second half, finishing with 23
points and eight steals and Delonte West added 15 points to lift
Saint Joseph's (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) to a 67-59 victory over Penn on Saturday.
Nelson and West, considered one of the top backcourts in the
nation, scored 16 of 18 points in one stretch late in the second
half for the Hawks (5-0), displaying an athleticism that no one on
Penn (2-3) could match.
So the Quakers, usually the Ivy League representative in the
NCAA tournament, kept up with torrid 3-point shooting. They
finished 13-for-24 from beyond the arc and Jeff Schiffner, who led
the nation in 3-point accuracy last year, went 7-for-11. All but
two of his shots were 3-point attempts.
"They're a great screening team and we were a little late
getting to him a couple of times," West said.
Visiting Saint Joe's, though, sealed the win from the free throw
line and Hawks fans closed the game with the rhythmic chant "This
is our house!"
Nelson converted a couple of steals into layups and West had a
couple of twisting, acrobatic layups through traffic that kept
Saint Joe's in front in the final minutes.
Nelson missed six of nine attempts in the first half, but went
6-for-12 from the field in the second. His five steals in the first
half led to nine points.
"I think they were being kind. A lot of those were team
steals," Nelson said. "We stress being in the passing lanes."
Penn coach Fran Dunphy said Nelson's basketball IQ made him just
as dangerous as his talent.
"He just has such great knowledge of the game. His escapability
is ridiculous," Dunphy said. "I can't imagine he can't make a
huge difference in somebody's (NBA) team. I just appreciate playing
The Palestra, the basketball cathedral that's home to the Big
Five, was sold out and rocking with fans swapping taunts of
"Overrated!" and "Not Even Rated!" Penn fans unfurled a banner
making fun of the 5-foot-10 Nelson's height, then later chanted
"Gar-ry Cole-man!" in reference to the diminutive former star of
the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes."
Saint Joe's built an 11-point lead in the first half,
capitalizing on a 6-minute scoreless stretch for Penn, until Tim
Begley hit a 3 and Schiffner made two straight 3s, making it 27-25.
Whenever Saint Joe's appeared ready to put the Quakers away,
Penn usually answered with a 3. The Hawks led by 10 midway through
the second half when Schiffner again hit two straight 3s, making it
"They have made him a significant go-to guy," Martelli said.
"The line is no longer a factor for him as well as he shoots the
The Quakers made 12 3-pointers in their previous game against
"That's part of our offense," Schiffner said. "That's
something we look to run and today it was useful for us."
Penn pulled to 48-45 after a 3-pointer by Copp, but the Quakers
were done in by 19 turnovers and poor shooting from the rest of the
floor. Penn was 6-of-22 from inside the arc.
"The margin of error is small, so we have to really take care
of each and every possession," Dunphy said. "We have to get
better balance. We have to go inside."
Copp finished with 12 points.
Dwayne Jones grabbed 13 rebounds for the Hawks.