PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Saint Joseph's remained unbeaten, but coach Phil Martelli did not like what he saw.
Jameer Nelson scored 20 points and Pat Carroll had a pair of 3-pointers to key an early second-half run as third-ranked Saint Joseph's pulled away for a 73-59 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Rhode Island.
The Hawks (22-0, 11-0 A-10 East) moved within five wins of a perfect regular season by finally wearing a pesky Rhode Island team that had the score within single digits with 7:16 left.
"That's as disappointing as I've been with this group all year," Martelli said. "It was putting your heart and soul on the line and we didn't."
Delonte West and Tyrone Barley each scored 14 points for the Hawks, who will visit lowly Fordham in their next game on Wednesday night.
Saint Joseph's has not been seriously challenged of late and has won 14 of its last 16 games by double digits. But the Rams (14-11, 3-8) played a hustling, defensive-minded game in an effort to keep it close.
That left Martelli feeling his team got by on talent and not on effort.
"Attention to detail was non-existent," he said. "I had to bark at them last night to get them going in practice, and it was the same thing here. I am not at all pleased."
The message appeared to get across to Nelson, who this week appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the rest of the Hawks.
"I feel that he's trying to deliver a message that all these cameras and all the interviews that we've been doing can all go away with a snap of the finger," Nelson said. "He's right. We can't be full of ourselves."
Brian Woodward had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Rams, who were within five points at halftime. No other Ram scored in double figures.
"I thought we fought the fight," Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. "We want to go out there and play as hard as we can but you still have to execute."
Saint Joseph's opened the second half with a 13-2 spurt, taking a 49-33 lead with 14:13 left. Carroll had eight points in that span and capped the spurt with a pair of 3-pointers.
But Rhode Island stayed around and cut it to 58-49 on a 3-pointer by Steve Mello with 10:48 left. The Hawks answered by pushing the lead back up to 16 on a basket and two free throws by Nelson and a 3-pointer by West with 5:23 left.
The Rams, who outrebounded the Hawks, 48-26, got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Martelli hopes that a Valentine's Day dinner will help calm himself down.
"I'm going to dinner with her and I'm going to be stewing," Martelli said. "She can't wait for this dinner tonight."