Saint Joseph’s upped their home record to 5-0 Sunday as the Hawks
dismantled an up-and-down UMass team, 76-47.
The Hawks (11-1, 2-0 A-10) won this game many ways. Some of the ways
On offense, 7’1 center Alex Sazonov registered 10 first-half points on
5-for-5 shooting. Delonte West, who is capable of creating his shot
anytime he desires, did just that on his way to a game-high 19
points. Nelson, scoreless in the first half, still managed to score
On defense, the Hawks forced 26 turnovers and held the Minutemen to 47
The Hawks’ offensive start was unusual. Of the team’s first 8 field
goals, only a single basket was scored by Jameer Nelson, Delonte West,
or Pat Carroll. The three perimeter players account for nearly 68% of
the team’s points (46.8 pts out of 69.2 pts). Instead, Alex Sazonov,
Tyrone Barley, Chet Stachitas, and Dwayne Jones were the players
putting the ball in the hoop.
Sazonov delivered 6 points during a 9-0 Hawk run, which gave the home
team an early 13-5 lead. Alex was decisive on the offensive end.
When he received the ball, he didn’t hesitate. He went right to the
hoop. Too often has been the case when Alex would 1) travel, 2) bring
the ball down and let the double team take it from him, or 3) fade
away. How hot was Sazonov? Well, in just 16 minutes, he totaled 12
points on 6-of-6 shooting. Even when he was whistled for traveling,
he still made the bucket.
The Hawks led by 10 points at halftime, 33-23. Saint Joseph’s
connected on 52% of their field goals. Nelson, scoreless, did what he
does best—he created easy, open shots for his teammates. Nelson had 7
assists by halftime. What kept the Minutemen in the game was the
solid play of Jackie Rogers. Rogers scored 9 points in the half.
Rogers doesn’t possess a repertoire of post moves. He basically
sports a jump hook and the up-and-under lay-up. But that has worked
for him his entire career. Some sloppy play (11 turnovers) by the
Hawks also kept UMass down but not out.
The Hawks blew the game wide open in the 2nd half in a
hurry. Saint Joseph’s made its first 8 field goal attempts, with West
(3) and Nelson (2) leading the way. By then, the lead was 52-28. And
any Eagles fan was welcome to leave the game and start tailgating
before Philly’s playoff opener vs. Atlanta.
If they did leave, they didn’t witness the best shot of the game.
Delonte West tipped the ball away from a UMass guard and Nelson
swooped in to pick up the loose ball. What ensued was a 1-on-1 fast
break for Nelson. When the defender stepped in to undercut Nelson,
the heady point guard spun 360 degrees off a jump stop maneuver and
layed the ball gently off the glass. It rolled around the rim a
couple times before it came out. The roof would have come off the
Fieldhouse! It was the only thing that didn’t go Nelson’s way during
a big second-half for the junior.
For the remainder of the half, UMass reverted to a zone. Saint
Joseph’s was more than welcome to pass the ball around the perimeter.
The Hawks ran off a lot of clock and Delonte West made shot after shot
at the end of the possession.
On defense, the Hawks swarmed the Minutemen. Saint Joseph’s would
collapse and steal the ball before the UMass big men were even given a
chance to kick it out. UMass shot 50% in the second-half but were
only able to get off 16 shots due to the tenacious defense of the
Saint Joseph’s shot 60.5% for the game. Hot shooting coupled with
this brand of defensive intensity will spell doom for most A-10
opponents. Barley totaled 8 points and Chris Cologer scored 7 points
in mostly garbage time down the stretch. Jones and Bryant combined
for 11 rebounds as the Hawks won the battle of the boards, 27-23.
Micah Brand led UMass with 10 points. Rogers finished with only 9
points (0 in the 2nd half). The Minutemen are tough to
figure out. They knocked off a ranked NC St. team, but lost against
Fordham, Lafayette, and Central Connecticut. A-10 Rookie of the Year
Anthony Anderson has struggled this season.
Memorable Moment of the Game. There was a stoppage in the game
late in the second half. The score was 63-41. But how could you
tell? Phil Martelli had his players in the huddle and was scripting a
play. I thought this was great. They had already won the game, yet
Phil is still coaching the team as if it were a one possession game.
So the team takes the floor. Nelson takes the ball at the top of the
key. His 4 teammates go off to the sidelines. He breaks down his man
and lays the ball in. Definitely not rocket science.
The road to the A-10 still goes through Temple. The Hawks face the
Owls 6:30 pm Tuesday night
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