No. 10 Gonzaga Falls In Opener
Nov 15, 2003
By JIM O'CONNELL
NEW YORK - Jameer Nelson lived up to the billing.
The second-leading vote-getter on the AP's preseason All-America team had 20 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and a ton of oohs and aahs in leading No. 17 Saint Joseph's to a 73-66 victory over No. 10 Gonzaga in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night.
The senior guard struggled with his shot in the first half but more than made up for it in the second as he seemed to come up with every big play the Hawks needed in the teams' season opener.
His best sequence came when he drew a charge at midcourt, then took the inbounds pass and made a drive through traffic that left the crowd at Madison Square Garden standing and cheering.
More than 4,000 Saint Joseph's fans bought tickets and they turned the building in New York into Philadelphia's Hawk Hill for a night. The university with the enrollment of 3,800 was the big school for the night.
This was the third straight year these schools met. Although this one wasn't as close as the last two that were decided by a total of four points with the Saint Joseph's win going overtime, it did get nervous for the Hawks.
They went five minutes without scoring and the Bulldogs closed an 11-point deficit to 66-61. But Pat Carroll banked in a 3-pointer from just in front of the Saint Joseph's bench with 3:02 to play and the outcome was never really in doubt.
Delonte West added 16 points for the Hawks, while Carroll and Tyrone Barley each had 12.
Cory Violette had 13 points and 15 rebounds for Gonzaga. Senior guard Blake Stepp, the West Coast Conference player of the year last season, struggled through a 2-for-12 shooting night and had eight points.
Nelson finished 6-for-20 from the field but that didn't bother the fans who
chanted "You can't guard him" at any of the Gonzaga defenders that had the
Gonzaga outrebounded the Hawks 47-32, but Saint Joseph's doubled the Bulldogs' output from 3-point range with 12.
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