79 - 77 Final
  for this game

Late play by Lavender lifts Xavier to second round

Mar 16, 2007 - 8:10 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Drew Lavender may have been the smallest player on the court, but he ended up making some of the biggest plays.

Lavender scored six points within the final two minutes as ninth-seeded Xavier captured a 79-77 victory over No. 8 seed Brigham Young in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region.

Josh Duncan added the go-ahead basket with 33 seconds remaining as the Musketeers (25-8) set up a matchup with intrastate rival and top seed Ohio State on Saturday. It will be just the fourth matchup between the schools, with Xavier posting a 60-57 victory in the first round of the NIT on March 15, 1984, in the last.

Ohio State's Thad Matta was the coach for the Musketeers for three seasons before leaving for the job in Columbus in 2004. Sean Miller served under Matta before taking over the reins at Xavier.

"It's obviously a strange feeling," Miller said. "When we saw the brackets we tried to focus on beating a very good BYU team. That was very easy to do because this day would never come if we would have lost. Now that the reality that we play each other (is here), it is amazing to think about.

"Thad is a great friend of mine. We talk together all the time. We are looking forward to the game."

A 5-7 point guard, Lavender finished with 18 points, including 16 in the second half as the Musketeers rallied from a 38-32 deficit at the half.

"Coach told me to pick it up," said Lavender about his elevation in play after the break. "I wasn't being myself in the first half. Our team wasn't being ourselves either and he told us to pick it up. Coach kept telling me to attack. It opened up for me in the last three minutes that I was able to throw it up."

Going on a 20-6 run to grab a 60-55 lead with 9:48 remaining, Xavier remained in the lead until Keena Young's jumper knotted the score at 66-66 for BYU with 5:09 left.

Both teams then went back and forth, with the Cougars pulling ahead, 73-71, on two free throws by Young with 2:10 remaining.

Lavender, who finished 5-of-12 from the field, answered with a jumper and, following a steal by Duncan, hit a runner in the lane for a 75-73 edge with 1:18 remaining.

"It was more the way we were guarding it," said BYU guard Austin Ainge about Lavender's jumper. "We were worried about the post players and them dropping back to take the shot. And that allowed him to take the shot."

BYU was able to tie the score once again on Lee Cummard's follow shot with 52 seconds to play, before Duncan swept in from the right side for a layup.

The Cougars then got a good look from Ainge, whose jumper in the lane hit off the back of the rim. Trent Plaisted rebounded the miss, but was off the mark on his twisting shot and the rebound went to Lavender, who was fouled with 11 seconds left.

Lavender made both attempts for a 79-75 edge, capping a strong showing at the free-throw line for the Musketeers, who ended up 23-of-29.

Needing a quick score in the closing seconds, Ainge lost control of the ball in the lane before recovering it to find Young for a layup as time expired.

Young scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for BYU, which shot 43 percent (29-of-67).

Mike Rose scored 15 points off the bench and Ainge added 12 for the Cougars, who absorbed a loss in the first round for the fifth consecutive time since 1995.

"It left something unfinished," Ainge said. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was not achieved. It hurts. We didn't make the plays we needed to."