Feb. 10, 2008
CINCINNATI (AP) - Stanley Burrell scored 16 points and made a pair of clinching free throws with 13 seconds left Sunday, helping No. 13 Xavier hold on for a 76-72 victory over Saint Joseph's in a matchup of the Atlantic 10's top two teams.
Xavier (20-4, 8-1) solidified its hold on first place with its 12th victory in the last 13 games. This one wasn't easy - the Musketeers blew a 14-point lead and had to rally in the closing minutes.
They scored the last eight points to pull it off.
Rob Ferguson scored 18 for the Hawks (15-7, 6-3), who had a turnover and missed a pair of shots in the final 20 seconds. Pat Calathes, the Hawks' top scorer, was only 4-of-15 from the field for 16 points.
For the second game in a row, Xavier wasted a double-digit lead before pulling it out at the end. Derek Brown's tip-in with less than a second left beat Saint Louis on Wednesday night.
Drew Lavender finished with 12 points and four assists, including a pass to B.J. Raymond for a 3-pointer that put the Musketeers ahead to stay with 45 seconds left.
"We gave up a long rebound (prior to that shot). We played great defense on that possession but that's a ball we have to have. All five guys have to do whatever it takes to get that rebound," said SJU coach Phil Martelli.
The Hawks were coming off what was by far their worst game of the season, a 102-88 loss at Duquesne on Wednesday that snapped their six-game winning streak. Center Ahmad Nivins sat out that game with a sprained right ankle, and it showed in Saint Joseph's defense.
Nivins was out for the opening tip on Saturday and made an early impact. The 6-foot-9 center had a pair of free throws and a close-up basket that helped the Hawks surge ahead 17-13.
That's when Xavier's versatility took over.
The Musketeers made 10 of their next 12 shots, everything from a backdoor dunk to a flurry of 3s. Seven players scored during a 26-8 run that put Xavier up 39-25. Five players hit 3-pointers, underscoring Xavier's balance.
Saint Joseph's had another setback when Nivins picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half. This time, the Hawks didn't fold when he went to the bench. Instead, their defense got nasty.
Rob Ferguson had a 3-pointer and a pair of close-up baskets during a 19-3 run that put the Hawks up 53-46. Calathes, who had only one basket in the first half, hit a pair of 3-pointers during the spurt.
Xavier had only one turnover during the first 19 minutes of the game. The Hawks forced five turnovers during their go-ahead run.
The Hawks held a slim lead until Josh Duncan and Burrell hit rapid-fire 3s that put Xavier up 65-62 with 6:12 left, setting up a back-and-forth finish. Nivins watched it play out from the bench after picking up his fifth foul with 4:17 to go.
A three-point play from Duncan and a 3-pointer by Raymond gave Xavier a 74-72 lead with 45 seconds to go. After Saint Joseph's called a timeout, Darrin Govens lost the ball on a drive to the basket.
Burrell got the loose ball, was fouled and made both free throws to clinch it.