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Updated: Saturday, January 17, 2004 5:25 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(6) Saint Josephs 81, Xavier 73

CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Delonte West may have been perfect, but Jameer Nelson came through on the biggest play of the game.

Nelson fed Pat Carroll for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining as sixth-ranked St. Joseph's remained unbeaten by rallying for an 81-73 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Xavier.

West made all 12 of his shots and led St. Joseph's (15-0, 5-0 A-10 East) with a career-high 33 points. Nelson added 28 points as the Hawks matched the second-longest winning streak in school history.

"The last couple of games we've been having good halves together," Nelson said. "It's not like we're just looking for each other."

Xavier (9-6, 1-2 West) scored eight straight points to take a 71-70 lead on Romain Sato's layup with 3:08 remaining. Nelson penetrated on the next possession and found a wide-open Carroll, who drilled his jumper to give St. Joseph's the lead for good.

"In big games, big-time players make big plays," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "They are big-time players."

Dedrick Finn missed a tying basket in close for Xavier and Nelson missed a 3-pointer on the other end. But Dwayne Jones flew in and tipped home the rebound for a 75-71 advantage with just under two minutes left.

West set an A-10 record for the most baskets for a player who is perfect from the floor. He also made all six foul shots, helping to ice the game with four in the final 37 seconds.

"I'd almost like to have kept playing to see if he (West) was ever going to miss. And he never hit the rim," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "But the biggest shot of the game was Carroll's three."

The Musketeers, who have dropped two straight, built a 41-35 halftime lead on the strength of Lionel Chalmers' 15 points. He finished with 23 points and Sato added 14. Nelson was 11-of-18 from the floor as St. Joseph's survived a major stumbling block in its quest for an unbeaten regular season. Xavier was considered the West Division co-favorite with Dayton, which visits the Hawks.

"The bellwether in our league is Temple in our side and Xavier on their side," Martelli said. "We're delighted to be going home undefeated."


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