PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Jameer Nelson will have to wait to become his school's all-time assists leader, but he did more than enough to lead St. Joseph's to another win.
The 5-11 senior point guard scored 23 points and recorded a career-high eight steals as the 14th-ranked Hawks defeated Pennsylvania, 67-59 in a battle of Philadelphia Big Five rivals.
Nelson entered the game needing eight assists to pass Rap Curry (580) as the school's all-time leader, but finished the game with just four. However, he was a force defensively and found his shooting stroke in the second half, when he had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
"His game is all the other numbers," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "What people are doing against him now is crowding the middle of the floor. But he has great recognition as to what needs to be done."
The preseason Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year, Nelson downplayed his career high in steals.
"I thought the scorekeeper was kind of generous," Nelson said. "Steals are a team thing."
St. Joseph's (5-0) forced 19 turnovers and held Penn to 41 percent shooting (19-of-46).
Delonte West added 15 for the Hawks, who have won four of the last five meetings from Penn.
West made two layups and Nelson had a pair of steals and a pair of layups in an 8-0 run which gave St. Joseph's a 56-45 lead with 4:19 left.
"Jameer imposes his will on the game, and he did that a number of times today at both ends of the court," Quakers coach Fran Dunphy said. "He has just great knowledge of the game. He sees everything."
Penn (2-3) pulled within 62-59 on a 3-pointer by Charlie Copp with 38 seconds remaining, but that would be the last basket for the Quakers. Pat Carroll converted three free throws in the final 19 seconds to seal the win.
Jeff Schiffner, the nation's leader in 3-point shooting percentage last season, led Penn with 23 points, including 7-of-11 from behind the arc.
Penn lost for the third time in as many games against a ranked team, previously falling to Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Last season, the Hawks went 4-0 against their Big Five rivals, winning their first outright title since 1980. Included in that was a 66-48 win over Penn in which Nelson had 18 points.