Backcourt is in session
Nelson, West save St. Joseph's against Old Dominion
Posted: Saturday November 29, 2003 11:37PM; Updated: Saturday November 29, 2003 11:38PM
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Once St. Joseph's backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West got rolling, they were difficult to stop.
Nelson scored 24 points, including an improbable half-court shot with less than 10 seconds left, and West added 23 points to lead No. 13 St. Joseph's past the Old Dominion 75-72 Saturday night.
It almost wasn't enough, though. A steal by Troy Nance and a layup by Isaiah Hunter capped a 15-4 run that pulled Old Dominion (0-2) within 72-70 with 20 seconds remaining.
After Nelson's long distance 3-pointer, Hunter hit an off-balance jumper in the lane with 1.7 seconds left to pull Old Dominion back within three, but St. Joseph's (3-0) inbounded the ball and time ran out.
"When I looked at the shot, I thought it's got to be good, it was right on target and had enough arc," Nelson said of his long-range 3-pointer.
Nelson and West shot a combined 17-for-26 from the field and went 11-for-14 from the line. The Hawks' other three starters combined for 10 points.
Nelson said the Hawks had several critical lapses that allowed the Monarchs to stay close. The Hawks also were outrebounded by the taller Monarchs, 49-25, and managed just four offensive rebounds in the game.
"We didn't play up to our potential," Nelson said. "We've been doing that the first two games this season, going small (in the lineup). But obviously we have to work more on rebounding in practice."
St. Joseph's led by 13 down the stretch, but Old Dominion held the Hawks scoreless for three minutes during the late comeback run.
Alex Loughton had 22 of his career-high 24 points in the second half for the Monarchs. The 6-foot-9 sophomore from Perth, Australia, also had a career-high 15 rebounds and four steals.
Hunter added 21 points, and Arnaud Dahi had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Old Dominion.
"We had to exploit something," Monarchs Coach Blaine Taylor said. "We stayed big against them. I think the rebounds from our two big kids were huge."
St. Joseph's Dwayne Jones, a 6-11 center, was largely ineffective, getting five rebounds, eight points and four blocks in 34 minutes. Nelson, a foot shorter, matched Jones' rebound total.
"We walked out of here with a win, but the better team did not win tonight," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "It was disappointing basketball because we didn't play with our heads.
"If we are going to play small, we are going to have to rebound."
St. Joseph's led by as many as 16 in the first half, but a late 13-1 Old Dominion run made it 31-27 with 4:02 left. The Hawks responded by scoring eight of the half's final 10 points to take a 39-29 lead at the break.
But Old Dominion again clawed back early in the second, going on a 10-1 run, capped by Hunter's soft 12-foot jumper with 16:26 left to get within 40-39.
West responded by calmly draining a jumper, then stealing the ball on the next possession and feeding Jones for a dunk. West found Nelson under the basket for a layup 40 seconds later, and the Hawks pushed their lead to seven.
Nelson said experience saved the Hawks down the stretch.
"We're just trying to put the weight on the older guys who've been in that situation before," he said.
Even during the Hawks' three-minute scoreless stretch near the end, West and Nelson were still making big plays on defense.
West followed a miss with 5:35 remaining by chasing Abdi Lidonde the length of the court for a timely block.
The Monarchs were strong inside, but struggled from the perimeter, shooting 4-for-17 from 3-point range. Old Dominion also turned the ball over 20 times.
"We grew during the course of the evening," Taylor said. "A play or two here, we may be sitting here in overtime."