UMass Upended By No. 2 St. Joseph's
Feb 25, 2004
By JIMMY GOLEN
AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - One home game. One road game. One more week for Saint Joseph's to keep its streak going.
"We're well aware of what is out there," coach Phil Martelli said Wednesday night after his second-ranked Hawks beat Massachusetts 83-58 to remain unbeaten. "A week from today, we could have a very special place in college basketball."
Saint Joe's star guards each picked a half to dominate UMass, with Jameer Nelson scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first and Delonte West getting 15 of his 23 in the second. Nelson had eight assists and West had seven rebounds for the Hawks (25-0, 14-0 Atlantic 10), who won by double figures for the sixth consecutive game and the 12th time in their last 14.
Rashaun Freeman scored 21 points for UMass (9-16, 3-10), which lost its fifth consecutive game. The Minutemen jumped to an early lead and held it for 10 minutes in a bid to spoil Saint Joe's quest for a perfect season, but then the Hawks guards started shooting and the result was the same as it has been all season.
"They do it without throwing the ball into the post, ever," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "That's hard to do 25 times in a row. They make outside shots all night. I don't think I've ever seen that in all my years."
Saint Joseph's has already clinched the regular-season conference title, and the school needs two more wins to head into the Atlantic 10 tournament unbeaten; no team has entered the NCAA tourney without a loss since UNLV in 1991. The Hawks play at Rhode Island on Saturday with a chance to become the first Atlantic 10 team to start the season 26-0 since UMass in 1995-96. The Hawks also have a home game against St. Bonaventure.
"We're aware of that. But it doesn't drive us," Martelli said of the
streak. "If you go in that locker room right now it's the same as it's been 24
No one needs to remind UMass of that. When these teams met on Jan. 21, the Hawks scored the first 15 points of the game and led 50-23 at the half en route to a 92-67 victory. This one was tougher at the start, even if the outcome turned out the same.
UMass took a 4-0 lead on baskets by Jeff Viggiano and Maurice Maxwell, and the Minutemen had an 8-5 lead before Nelson scored his first point on a free throw. UMass went up 13-6 on a basket by Freeman and Maxwell's 3-pointer before the game turned completely around.
Barley hit a 3-pointer with 11:31 left in the half, then West made a basket and Barley hit another 3 to give the Hawks their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 9:54 remaining. Nelson hit two free throws and followed that with a layup, spinning through the lane to make it 18-13 and complete the 11-0 run.
UMass trailed 37-31 when Chris Chadwick fouled Nelson during an attempted 3-pointer. Nelson hit two of the free throws, then Saint Joe's got the ball back on a turnover with just over 1 second remaining, and West hit a jumper at the buzzer to make it 41-31.
"We could have gone in down six," UMass guard Anthony Anderson said. "That was big."
The Minutemen never got within 10 again as the Hawks put together a 15-2 run to turn a 48-37 game into a 63-39 blowout. Pat Carroll had two 3-pointers, and West had two baskets and a 3 in the run.
UMass men's basketball returns to action this Saturday, Feb. 28 as it hosts Saint Bonaventure. It will be Senior Day at the Mullins Center with the opening tip slated for 2:00 p.m.