Final - OT
  for this game

Raymond's 3-pointers lift Xavier past West Virginia

Mar 28, 2008 - 4:49 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Josh Duncan scored a career-high 26 points and B.J. Raymond had all eight of his points in overtime as third-seeded Xavier defeated West Virginia, 79-75, in their West Regional semifinal matchup on Thursday.

C.J Anderson added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Xavier (30-6), which will play UCLA in the regional finals on Saturday. It is the second "Elite Eight" appearance in school history.

Tied at 64-64 heading into overtime, the seventh-seeded Mountaineers opened a 71-65 lead before Xavier rallied to tie the game at 72-72 on Drew Lavender's 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play.

Joe Mazzulla scored a layup to give West Virginia last advantage, but Raymond came right back with a 3-pointer to put the Musketeers in front, 75-74, with 1:20 left.

After a turnover by the Mountaineers, Raymond iced the game with another 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and the shot clock winding down.

"I just want to thank Coach for having the confidence in me, and to put me back in the game after I was a non-factor for the first 40 minutes," Raymond said. "I knew if I got back in there I had to make something happen, whether it was grabbing a rebound, getting a steal. Luckily he called the play for me, and I knocked one down and that was all I needed to get going."

Mazzulla hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to pull West Virginia within three points, but Stanley Burrell added another free throw to seal the Xavier win.

"We needed a couple of fortunate bounces to come our way," Musketeers coach Sean Miller said. "We won the game and West Virginia lost but you need a little luck when it is so tight and you have so much at stake. We found a way to win a fantastic game."

Joe Alexander had forced overtime for West Virginia, banking in a jumper as he was fouled to tie the contest at 64-64 with 14 seconds to play. Alexander missed the free throw, and Lavender's pull-up jumper was off the mark as time expired.

"I was more frustrated about us not getting back on the defense at the end than missing free throws," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "That happens. Probably shouldn't miss as many as what we did today, but you are going to miss some."

The Musketeers came out of the locker room hitting on all cylinders offensively, scoring the first eight points and sprinting to a 21-7 lead less than 7 1/2 minutes into the game.

Xavier stretched the lead to as many as 18 but the Mountaineers kept their poise and, behind layups by Mazzulla and Darris Nichols in the last minute, whittled the lead down to 32-25 at the break.

West Virginia (26-11) started the second half strong and took the lead for the first time, 51-50, with 9:43 remaining in the regulation on Da'Sean Butler's jumper.

The Mountaineers took their largest lead - after six lead changes and two ties - when Joe Alexander nailed a jumper and Alex Ruoff hit one free throw to make it 62-59 with under 2 1/2 minutes to play.

But Duncan converted a three-point play and later made a pair of free throws to give Xavier a 64-62 lead with 1:28 remaining in regulation.

"We came through at the end basically by not giving up and believing that we were going to come back," Duncan said. "We have been down and in so many tough situations throughout the year, instead of panicking we stayed poised and and stayed together."

Xavier made 11-of-19 3-pointers while West Virginia was just 1-of-11 from the arc.

"When you think about the discrepancy, they certainly did some things better than we did, because usually when it's that tilted, it is a big margin of victory for our team," Miller said. "I think the bigger picture in the game coming in, in West Virginia's 10 losses, the one common thread was their 3-point shooting. It seemed like the one factor that was consistent is they didn't shoot as well from three."

Leading scorer Alexander finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds but he fouled out with 4:30 to play in overtime.

Butler finished with 16 points and Ruoff chipped in 14 for West Virginia, which had reached the "Sweet 16" for the third time in four years.

"We had some breakdowns and they made some big plays," Huggins said. "The morale is we played pretty well but we didn't finish it."