for this game

Xavier survives scare from UMass

Jan 31, 2009 - 8:50 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Derrick Brown matched a career high with 23 points as 10th-ranked Xavier grinded its way to an 82-80 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday in an Atlantic 10 clash.

B.J. Raymond added 22 points and C.J. Anderson finished with 19 for the Musketeers, who won their 10th straight game and 20th consecutive contest against a conference foe at the Cintas Center.

Xavier (19-2, 7-0 A-10) has made a habit of crushing league rivals this season, having won five conference games by at least 20 points. The Minutemen (7-12, 2-4) were far from an easy mark, however, and stayed in the game until the last possible moment.

"I thought that was a fantastic basketball game," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "Xavier is a team that can do some special things with their size and athleticism.

"Our guys competed for 40 minutes. Our guys showed courage. There was an article somewhere about what toughness is, and I'm sure our guys got a good look at it today."

Trailing 78-77 with 10 seconds left, UMass had a chance to take the lead but Ricky Harris missed an open 3-pointer from the corner. Xavier eventually went ahead 82-79 as the teams traded free throws, and opted to foul UMass guard Chris Lowe with 3.6 seconds remaining.

The senior converted the first shot and gave his team a chance to grab a rebound by intentionally missing the second, but Anderson corralled the ball for Xavier as time expired.

Harris led the balanced UMass attack with 17 points while Lowe, now one point shy of 1,000 for his college career, netted 16.

Xavier, which shot a 68 percent (17-of-25) from the floor in the first half, opened a 44-37 lead through the opening 20 minutes and looked to be on its way to another comfortable win.

Brown played a flawless first half, as the junior forward went 6-of-6 from the floor, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and drained his only free throw attempt - which came after he was fouled on a thunderous dunk.

The Musketeers grabbed the momentum and took a 54-46 lead early in the second half, but a 12-4 run highlighted by five points from Harris knotted things at 58-58 with just over 11 minutes to play.

Neither team was able to open up a lead of more than four during the remainder of the game, which saw six lead changes down the stretch.

Despite committing a season-high 23 turnovers, Xavier shot 59.6 percent (31-of-52) from the field and converted 12-of-14 free throws, including four straight from Raymond and Brown in the closing moments.

"I thought UMass did an excellent job," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "Their offense and their game plan were excellent. ... For us to be able to win today's game says a lot about our team."

The Musketeers have won four straight and seven of their last nine meetings with the Minutemen, who fell to 1-8 on the road this season.