(12) Saint Joseph's 67

(5-0, 3-0 away)

Pennsylvania 59

(2-3, 1-2 home)

    2:30 PM ET, December 6, 2003

    Palestra, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    1 2 T
    #12JOES 31 3667
    PENN 25 3459

    Nelson scores 15 of his 23 in second half

    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 done."

    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.

    The Hawks led by eight points with under a minute left, but Penn's Adam Chubb made two free throws and Charlie Copp drilled -- what else? -- a 3 that cut the deficit to 62-59 with 36 seconds left.

    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 against him."

    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 46-42.

    "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 ball."

    The Quakers made 12 3-pointers in their previous game against Indiana State.

    "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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

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