12:05 PM ET, March 11, 2004
University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- From perfect to pummeled.Saint Joseph's first game as the nation's No. 1 team also was its first loss of the season, a shocking 87-67 collapse against unranked Xavier in the Atlantic-10 quarterfinals Thursday.
When Stanford lost for the first time all season at Washington, no one suggested the Cardinal would lose their projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So what of Saint Joseph's? The Hawks hit the ground with an even louder thud against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. Suddenly, everyone is asking if the Hawks can still be a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Story
"Going 3-1 against the Top 25, not a lot of teams can say that," coach Thad Matta said. "I believe we are one of the top 64 teams in the country."Xavier, ahead 74-37 with 7:56 remaining, has won 11 of its last 12 games."I think we're pretty good," Chalmers said. "We've come a long way since early on. Right now, we're clearly one of the hottest teams in the country."Nelson was booed loudly after confronting Xavier's Justin Doellman in the final minutes. Nelson hit the floor hard on an attempted dunk with Doellman in his face and took several seconds to get up. When the senior guard rose, he ran to the other end and glared at Doellman while fans called for a technical.Martelli put an arm around Nelson's neck as he spoke to him, then replaced him in the lineup."We tried to make it tough for Jameer and West," Sato said. "The last time we played them, they made everything."The Musketeers -- who lost at home to the Hawks 81-73 in January with Nelson and West combining for 61 points -- scored nearly at will from the start, with Sato and Chalmers slashing to the basket.Already ahead 25-16 with just over six minutes left in the first half, the Musketeers went on an 18-5 run until the intermission, with Sato and Chalmers combining for 11 points.The Hawks' 21 points and 28.6-shooting percentage in the opening 20 minutes were their worst production in a half this season. Saint Joseph's then failed to score in the first four minutes of the second half, and the Musketeers went up 51-21.In a 10:56 span, the Hawks hit one of 11 shots from the field and had three turnovers while being outscored 26-5.Nelson had his worst game of the season, going just 7-for-21 from the field, including 1-for-8 on 3-pointers. By contrast, Chalmers, Sato and Myles were 25-for-34."It's like I told Coach Martelli after the game," Matta said. "We couldn't have played any better than we did today."Even Martelli appreciated the way his team was dismantled."It's stating the obvious, but the better team won today," Martelli said. "They were hungry and desperate. Their three seniors did what seniors do in the darkest of times. ... If you could step back and watch, you'd almost have to admire it."
Lionel Chalmers' 23 points helped Xavier upset St. Joe's and state its own NCAA case.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press