Saturday , Feb , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

St. Joe’s escapes Rhode Island still unbeaten

Kingston, RI (Sports Network) – Delonte West’s three-pointer with 57.9
seconds remaining lifted second-ranked Saint Joseph’s to a 57-55 victory over
Rhode Island at the Ryan Center.

The Hawks (26-0, 15-0 Atlantic 10) stayed unbeaten and matched the best-ever
start to a season by an Atlantic 10 Conference team. Jameer Nelson scored 21
points and West finished with 19 for Saint Joseph’s.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges during the regular season,” West said. “We
played a physical game against California. Rhode Island had a game plan to
play us physical. Everything so far has been a learning experience.”

Dustin Hellenga paced the Rams with 15 points. Dawan Robinson netted 13 points
and Jamaal Wise contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for Rhode Island (17-12,
6-9), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Saint Joseph’s opened the second half with a 7-0 run to grab a 34-27
advantage. Nelson had five points during the surge.

Rhode Island then countered with an 8-1 spurt, culminated by Wise’s layup, to
knot the contest at 35-35 with 15:05 left.

The Hawks again appeared to gain control, as West’s three-pointer put Saint
Joseph’s in front 42-37. However, the Rams answered with seven consecutive
points, ignited by Robinson’s three-point play, to take a two-point advantage
with 8:15 remaining.

The game remained tight with neither club enjoying a lead of more than three
points.

West’s three-pointer with just under a minute left put the Hawks ahead 56-55.
Robinson then missed a runner in the lane, but the Rams got the ball back.
Robinson again misfired on a jumper and the follow-up also came up short.

Saint Joseph’s finally grabbed the rebound and West was eventually fouled with
19.4 seconds remaining. He made 1-of-2 from the stripe to make it 57-55.

On the final possession for Rhode Island, Robinson missed a tough jumper in
the lane and the ball bounced to the corner. Steve Mello picked it up for the
Rams, but was way off the mark on a desperation three-pointer before time
expired.

“We had ample opportunities, but we missed a layup, missed a foul shot and had
some open shots that didn’t go down,” said Rhode Island coach Jim Baron.
“We’re a good basketball team, and it showed against the No. 2 team
in the country. We had our opportunity and it’s something we have to grab.”

Scott Hazelton’s layup with 12:05 left in the first half gave Rhode Island a
15-9 lead.

The Hawks then responded with a 10-0 burst, keyed by eight points from Nelson,
to take a 19-15 advantage.

Saint Joseph’s was still in front 24-21, but the Rams scored six of the final
nine points of the half to even the contest at 27-27 heading to the
intermission.

Nelson and West each scored 10 points in the first half for Saint Joseph’s,
which made only 10-of-31 field goal attempts, including a 3-of-15 effort from
three-point range.

Hellenga led Rhode Island in the opening 20 minutes with 10 points. The Rams
were 12-of-32 from the floor in the half.

RISLAND STJOSEPHS