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Lavender helps Xavier avoid another road loss

Jan 20, 2008 - 6:10 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Drew Lavender scored 14 points to lead Xavier to a rare road win, 74-66, over George Washington on Saturday in an Atlantic 10 matchup.

Josh Duncan added 14 points and C.J. Anderson chipped in 13 for the Musketeers, who picked up just their second win in six road games this season.

Lavender made sure his team's struggles away from home would not continue, scoring nine points in the final four minutes and handing out a key assist on Duncan's jumper with 1:06 remaining after the Colonials had cut the lead to 67-66.

"Clearly they are maybe the best team we've played, and we played UCLA," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. "And the thing that makes Xavier special - Lavender is as good a point guard (as there is) in the country. He's never out of control, he makes great decisions with the basketball, and he knows how to get everyone involved."

Xavier (15-4, 3-1 A-10) entered the contest 11-1 at home with an average margin of victory close to 24 points. But the road had been a different story, with the lone win coming on November 23 at Kent State, and an embarrassing 78-59 setback at Temple its last time out.

"Anytime you lose a game on the road in the A-10, you don't want to lose again because that puts you at a disadvantage in our league," Lavender said. "Our league is so tough that everybody is pretty much on the same level. So if you don't come out and play tough, you're going to lose."

"I'm really proud of our players for responding the way they did after the defeat we took in Philadelphia against Temple," Xavier coach Sean Miller said.

The Musketeers built a 53-42 lead on Anderson's layup with 10:56 remaining. The shot capped a 20-12 run to begin the second half, with Duncan scoring seven points during the spurt.

"What makes them most dangerous is when they put Duncan in - a big guy who can step out and make threes - that puts a lot of pressure on you defensively," Hobbs said. "I've always been impressed with their program and players, and the way they conduct themselves. It's always been a first-class program."

But George Washington (5-8, 1-2) crawled back into the contest, using an 11-3 run over the next four minutes to pull to within 56-53 with 6:40 to play on Maureece Rice's free throws.

Rice's 3-pointer with 1:48 left pulled the Colonials within 67-66, but Lavender proved to be too much to overcome in the end.

Rice finished with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting and Wynton Witherspoon added 15 off the bench for George Washington, which dropped its second home contest of the season.

"With the makeup of our team with a senior backcourt and a point guard like Drew Lavender, it should be difficult to rattle us," Miller said. "As we talked about after our Temple game, there's two ways of losing. There's losing playing your brand of basketball, the one you work on everyday. ... The second is when for whatever reason you come unraveled. And at the end of the game you say, 'that's not us.' We were much more composed in this game, in more of an electric atmosphere than before."