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Xavier's torrid shooting holds off St. Joseph's

Feb 10, 2008 - 9:49 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Xavier took over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 after a surprising loss by St. Joseph's earlier this week. The Musketeers made sure they held on to it on Sunday.

Stanley Burrell scored 16 points and Josh Duncan added 13 as 14th-ranked Xavier recorded a 76-72 victory over the Hawks.

Xavier (20-4, 8-1 A-10), which has won six straight and 12 of its last 13 games, was sharing the top spot in the conference with St. Joseph's (15-7, 6-3) until the Hawks lost to Duquesne on Wednesday.

However, it wasn't until late the Musketeers could put away the Hawks.

"Today was one of our best wins," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "There were so many different times in the second half when we could have just folded against a very good Saint Joseph's team. But we just didn't. ... Down the stretch today, those three guys (Burrell, Duncan and Lavender) turned it up a notch. They did a great job in finding a way to win."

St. Joseph's used a 6-0 run to take a 68-65 lead with 4:56 remaining, but was unable to hold off hot-shooting Xavier, which took the lead for good with 46 seconds left on B.J. Raymond's 3-pointer.

"We believe in him (Raymond) regardless, even (if) he's 1-for-9 or 1-for-10," Burrell said.

Xavier missed just one field goal and hit all six of its free throws over the last four minutes of the game, turning its three-point deficit around with a game-ending 11-4 run.

The Musketeers shot 57 percent (26-for-46) from the field, including 60 percent (12-for-20) from the arc, to further improve on its conference-best 48 percent field goal shooting entering the contest.

Drew Lavender added 12 points for Xavier, which has won at least 20 games for the third consecutive season. It was a spirited effort as the Musketeers wore vintage uniforms from the 1958 NIT Championship team.

"Years past, we probably would have folded," Burrell said. "We probably would have quit. (It's) the three seniors. Our younger guys, they follow us. I'm happy our guys didn't give up, particularly today when we're trying to honor our past guys, when we're trying to honor the Xavier tradition."

Behind 57 percent (16-for-28) shooting in over the first 20 minutes, the Musketeers took a 41-32 lead into intermission. However, the Hawks stormed out quickly to take the lead early in the second half.

St. Joseph's hit eight of its first 11 shots after the break while going on a 19-5 run to established a 53-46 lead with 12:59 remaining.

The teams exchanged scores over the next four-plus minutes until Xavier embarked on a 12-2 run, capped off by Burrell's 3-pointer that gave it a 65-62 advantage with 6:15 left in the contest.

"Every game, he (Burrell) makes a shot against us," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "When does he graduate? I want to be here to make sure he graduates."

Rob Ferguson scored 18 points and Pat Calathes added 16 for St. Joseph's, which has dropped two straight after a six-game winning streak.