Feb. 28, 2007
CINCINNATI (AP) - Justin Doellman and Justin Cage led a balance offense that carried Xavier to its seventh straight victory Wednesday night, 72-62 over Saint Joseph's.
Xavier (22-7, 12-3 Atlantic 10) held onto its share of first place in the conference and extended its longest winning streak of the season behind its top two seniors. Doellman scored 15 points, and Cage led a second-half surge before finishing with 12 points.
After winning four in a row to get into the running for a first-round bye in the A10 tournament, Saint Joseph's (17-12, 9-6) has lost its last two games on the road.
Center Ahmad Nivins led Saint Joseph's with 24 points, his second consecutive big game. He had 27 points in a loss to Richmond on Saturday.
The Musketeers honored their seniors, including Doellman, Cage and center Brandon Cole, before a game that had a lot of bearing on the Atlantic 10 title. Xavier is tied with Massachusetts atop the league, but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Musketeers haven't won the A10 regular-season title since 2002-03. They've won its tournament twice since then.
Saint Joseph's had won its last two games on Xavier's court, including a 10-point victory last season that spoiled the Musketeers' senior night celebration. On Wednesday, the Hawks came out in a 2-3 zone that surprised the Musketeers and got the crowd grumbling.
Shooting tentatively over the zone, Xavier missed its first nine shots - five of them from behind the arc - while falling behind 8-0. Doellman's alley-oop dunk - his only basket of the half - got Xavier rolling.
Saint Joseph's then went cold, missing five straight shots over a seven-minute span. Turnovers hurt the Hawks as well: Saint Joseph's had 13 in the half, an uncharacteristically high number.
B.J. Raymond's 3-pointer completed a 13-3 spurt that put Xavier up 25-18. Nivins' tip-in just before the buzzer cut it to 26-22 at halftime.
Raymond's third 3 of the game built the lead to 47-37 midway through the second half. Cage - who does his best work on defense - then started the surge that put Xavier in control the rest of the way. He made a pair of free throws, a bank shot and a fastbreak layup during a 9-2 spurt that pushed the lead to 56-42 with 6:55 left.
Xavier led by double digits the rest of the way.
Point guard Drew Lavender, who has led Xavier during its winning streak with 17 points per game, went only 1-for-7 from the field and finished with eight points. Stanley Burrell was 2-for-11 from the field for seven points.
Saint Joseph's freshman guard Darrin Govens sat out the Richmond game with sprained left ankle, and was out of the starting lineup again on Wednesday. He played only a few minutes and missed his only shot.
Forward Pat Calathes, who has led the Hawks in February by averaging 16.6 points in eight games, was held to three points by Xavier's tight man-to-man defense.