PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Carroll grimaced after another victory in a perfect season. No not Saint Joseph's, but the only team ahead of it in the polls: Stanford.
"It's not going to take anything away from our season no matter
what they do, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if they lost,"
Carroll said with a smile. "They're on the other side of the
country, though. We're not worried about them right now."
No. 2 Saint Joseph's (24-0, 13-0 Atlantic 10) and No. 1 Stanford
(23-0) are the only unbeaten teams remaining in Division I.
Stanford beat UCLA 73-60 on Saturday.
"We're not worried about being undefeated, only about our next
challenge," West said. "We don't wish bad on Stanford. It would
be nice to be undefeated. If it's both of us, it won't matter."
If the Hawks were going to stumble between now and the NCAA tournament, this seemed to be the game it would happen. The Owls (12-11, 6-6) took a five-game winning streak into the soldout
Palestra, where the Hawks stunned the fifth-ranked Owls in late
February four years ago.
Fans filled the parking lots nearly 2 hours before tipoff and
scalpers seemed to be doing brisk business. Once inside, the fans
exchanged playful chants of "We want Saint Joe's" and
"Undefeated," though there was a decidedly Hawks' tilt.
It was even more lopsided on the court.
Saint Joe's got two 3-pointers from Nelson during a 15-2 run
late in the first half, helping the Hawks to a 41-23 halftime lead.
The Hawks went 11-of-20 from 3-point range after making a
conference-record 20 in their 83-71 win against the Owls last
The Hawks had 18 assists on 24 baskets, with 11 assists coming
from West and Nelson.
The Hawks double-teamed and shut down David Hawkins, who ranked third nationally with a 24.3 scoring average and had scored at
least 20 points in 17 straight games. He finished with only 13
points on 5-for-21 shooting.
"We're like a freight train with no passengers. They have
passengers," Temple coach John Chaney said. "You can't beat a
team with one man. That's tough to do when the other team is
doubling him so much. It will serve him well when he has other
players around him."
The win continued a trend of blowouts for the Hawks: This was
the 11th time in the last 13 games Saint Joseph's has won by at
least 10 points.
"No team we face has been easy. In all the games this year,
there was something that was a challenge," West said.
Both teams started slowly, combining to miss their first 11
shots from the field. All the points were scored from the free
throw line until Saint Joe's Dwayne Jones dunked about 5½ minutes into the game.
Saint Joe's pushed the lead into double digits after getting
four straight 3-pointers: one each from Carroll, Nelson, Chet Stachitas and West. The Owls would pull to 23-20, but it was as
close as they would get.
Chaney, who gave Martelli a playful pregame slap on the top of
his bald head, earned a standing ovation when he was honored before
the game for his 700th career victory.
The Hawks have games at Massachusetts and Rhode Island before playing their final home game against St. Bonaventure.
The Atlantic 10 tournament will be held in Dayton, and the Hawks are looking to become the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament without a loss.
The Hawks won their 13th straight game against Philadelphia-area teams and finished undefeated, of course, in the city series.
Chaney's 1987-88 Temple team is the only Big 5 school to be
voted No. 1. Temple assistant coach Mark Macon, who was on that
team, had a brief embrace and chat with Nelson after the game.
Macon upset Nelson earlier in the week with comments on a local sports show that those Owls had a better backcourt than this year's
Hawks. Nelson shouted at Macon late in the game, telling him to
"Put a uniform on."
Nelson said Macon told him he didn't mean any disrespect, but
that wasn't enough.
"He still didn't say sorry," Nelson said. "I feel he
disrespected me. He disrespected Delonte, too. He said I didn't get
the whole story. He said what he said."