for this game

Xavier re-asserts itself on road, downs Saint Joseph's

Feb 27, 2009 - 5:14 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- It took more than a month but Xavier is now back on top on the road.

Derrick Brown scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 22 Xavier put an end to its road struggles Thursday with a 68-54 victory over Saint Joseph's.

B.J. Raymond also had 18 points for the Musketeers (23-5, 11-3 A-10), who snapped a three-game road losing streak in league play, winning away from home for the first time since a huge non-conference win at Louisiana State on January 24.

Xavier had been cruising through the Atlantic 10 Conference with an 8-0 mark before it dropped consecutive away games at Duquesne, Dayton and Charlotte to see its lead in the league drop to one-half game over Temple.

Yet, the Musketeers came out with a strong effort in this one, shooting 44 percent (25-of-57) while nearly leading throughout. Meanwhile, the Owls lost to La Salle to give Xavier some breathing room with two games remaining.

Xavier got a late layup from Kenny Frease for a 31-26 lead at the break and scored the first seven points of the second half to just about put the game away.

The Hawks (14-13, 7-6) did close within 52-44 on a dunk by Ahmad Nivins but Brown had two straight dunks to ignite an 11-2 run for the Musketeers.

Nivins finished with 24 points and eight rebounds for Saint Joseph's, which absorbed its first five-game losing streak since the 1998-99 season.

"We're going out there and competing, but we're just not clicking," Nivins told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "At this time of the season, you want to be playing your best basketball. That hasn't been the case with us but we still have time to turn this around."

The A-10's leading scorer and rebounder, Nivins faced constant double-teams, especially since the Hawks were without third-leading scorer Tasheed Carr after he suffered a concussion in Tuesday's practice.

"I thought I did, but they tend to surprise me every game," the 6-9 Nivins told The Inquirer about seeing nearly every kind of defense. "I thought Xavier did a wonderful job of playing me physical. There's always a fresh guy there, or two. It's a matter of me staying aggressive."

Nivins, who entered the game just a point ahead of Temple's Dionte Christmas for the scoring lead, went 5-of-9 from the field and 14-of-17 on free throws.

Still, the absence of Carr proved to be too much against the more aggressive Musketeers.

"His not playing really hurt them," Xavier coach Sean Miller told the newspaper. "I think he's one of the best guards in the conference."

The Musketeers finished with a 40-27 advantage on the boards, pulling down 17 on the offensive glass, which led to 22 second-chance points.