Sunday, February 28, 1999


Musketeers lose title at buzzer

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Xavier players stood helpless as fans streamed from the stands. The game was over. They had lost the Atlantic 10 West Division title. And there was nothing the Musketeers could do about it.

        “It felt empty, you know,” Xavier senior James Posey said. “You don't get a chance, and they had two chances.”

        George Washington got a key offensive rebound, then a three-point basket at the buzzer from Shawnta Rogers to end XU's two-year reign atop the A-10 West and set off an explosion of excitement in the Charles E. Smith Center.

        The Colonials, who shared the West title last year with Xavier and Dayton, captured their first outright division championship with a 77-74 victory Saturday.

        While the players cut down nets as the crowd roared, the Musketeers sat stunned and mostly silent in their locker room a floor below the court.

        “I don't know what to say,” senior point guard Gary Lumpkin said. “I'm at a loss for words right now.”

        The Musketeers (20-9, 12-4) finished second in the West Division and are a No. 2 seed for the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, which begins Wednesday in Philadelphia. They still receive a first-round bye and play at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against the Duquesne-St. Bonaventure or Massachusetts winner.

        George Washington (19-7, 13-3) finished the season 12-0 at home.

        Two free throws by Xavier's Lenny Brown tied the game with 42.1 seconds left.

        GW called a timeout with 34.9 seconds remaining, then Xavier followed with a timeout if its own.

        Xavier coach Skip Prosser told his team: Here we are again; we need one stop and one rebound. “We got the stop and didn't get the rebound,” he said later.

        The clock wound down. Rogers ended up launching a three-point shot from the left side that just beat the shot clock buzzer.

        Xavier freshman Kevin Frey and GW freshman Andry Sola jumped for the rebound, and the ball got tipped back to Colonials guard Mike King. He passed quickly to a wide-open Rogers, who short-bounced the ball once, then let loose a three-pointer with Xavier's Lloyd Price running at him.

        Rogers: “Every time a ball's released from my hands, if it ain't slipping I feel it's good.”

        Price: “I looked back and I knew it went in. I saw it.”

        Posey: “Everybody rushed the court. I knew they didn't rush the court because he missed.”

        The shot capped a courageous performance by Rogers, who has had the flu and did not practice all week. He spent the past two days in bed and had a 101-degree fever Friday.

        Coach Tom Penders said he didn't know until a half hour before tipoff that Rogers could go, though the 5-foot-4 point guard said, “There's nothing really that was going to stop me from playing.”

        Rogers, the probable league MVP who was honored before the game with the rest of the GW seniors, totaled just one point in the first half, missed his first nine field goal attempts, but scored 17 points in the final 11:04.

        “Earlier in the game, I didn't have any legs,” he said. “I couldn't get in the flow.”

        He did eventually, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-20 shooting with seven assists, four steals and no turnovers in 37 minutes. He was 5-of-11 from three-point range.

        Penders said he told Rogers: “When you want to come out, you let me know and you're coming out. But when you want to get back in, don't hesitate, please, just run to the scorer's table. Don't even tap me on the back.”

        “Shawnta was playing on fumes,” Penders said. “He just got better as the game got on. You can't say enough about the heart that young man has. He just refused to let us lose.”

        It was a classic battle between teams that came in tied for first place in the A-10 West.

        The game was tied five times in the last six minutes.

        Xavier was most hurt by:

        • 26 turnovers, which tied a season high (GW had only nine)

        • 17 offensive rebounds by George Washington, including five in the last 1:38

        “Initial shots weren't beating us,” Posey said. “Second shots were.”

        The Musketeers won the rebounding battle 53-36 and shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half. They got some great individual performances from Posey (28 points, 11 rebounds), Brown (17 points), Price (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Frey (12 rebounds).

        They trailed 33-27 at halftime, then fell behind by eight points after GW scored the first basket after intermission.

        But Xavier responded with an explosive 20-4 run in a four-minute stretch, during which Posey had three three-pointers and Brown one. It was 47-39 Xavier with 15:46 remaining.

        “We're not going to roll over,” Prosser said. “It's a heavyweight fight. We were going to fight for the championship.”

        “We came out and took it right to 'em,” Posey said.

        The Musketeers were ahead 51-48 after Posey dunked an alley-oop pass from Brown with 11:16 to play.

        Then Rogers tied it with a three-pointer — his first field goal of the game. After Yegor Mescheriakov blocked an inside shot by Posey, Rogers came back and hit another three.

        The Smith Center was rocking.

        Xavier never led again.

        “We never felt in control; I don't know if they did,” Prosser said.

        “I don't think it was a tremendously well-played game. But I thought the intensity of the game was certainly of a high caliber.”

Notebook: Second chances doom Musketeers

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            35   1-4   0-3  2-12  1  2    2
Turner          23   4-4   1-2   3-6  0  2    9
Posey           39 11-18   2-4  1-11  2  3   28
Lumpkin         28   0-5   0-0   0-2  7  1    0
L Brown         34  7-13   2-2   1-4  3  3   17
Mcafee          19   2-6   2-2   0-3  3  5    7
Harris           1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Price           21   4-7   3-5  5-11  0  4   11
TOTALS         200 29-57 10-18 12-49 16 20   74

Percentages: FG-.509, FT-.556. 3-Point Goals:
6-17, .353 (Frey 0-1, Posey 4-8, L Brown 1-5,
Mcafee 1-3). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 4
(Frey, Turner, L Brown, Price). Turnovers: 26 (L
Brown 7, Mcafee 5, Posey 5, Turner 4, Frey 2,
Price 2, Lumpkin). Steals: 6 (Mcafee 2, Price 2,
L Brown, Turner).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Mescheriakov    39  9-19   1-1  6-10  5  4   20
Camara           5   0-2   0-0   0-0  1  1    0
Ngongba         30   4-8   4-7   3-8  0  5   12
Rogers          37  5-20   3-4   0-3  7  0   18
King            20  3-13   2-4   1-1  5  4    9
Roma             4   0-0   0-0   1-1  1  1    0
Eyal            15   2-5   0-0   0-1  0  3    5
Iturbe          25   2-4   1-3   3-7  0  2    5
Sola            25   3-7   0-0   1-2  1  2    8
TOTALS         200 28-78 11-19 15-33 20 22   77

Percentages: FG-.359, FT-.579. 3-Point Goals:
10-27, .370 (Mescheriakov 1-1, Camara 0-1, Rogers
5-11, King 1-4, Eyal 1-4, Sola 2-6). Team
rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 5 (Mescheriakov 4,
Iturbe). Turnovers: 9 (Mescheriakov 3, Camara 2,
Ngongba 2, King, Sola). Steals: 17 (Ngongba 5,
Rogers 4, Mescheriakov 3, Eyal 2, Iturbe, King,
Xavier             27   47  -   74
Geo Washington     33   44  -   77
Technical fouls: None.  A: 5,454. Officials: Mark
Distrola, Ken Clark, Rich Sanfillipo.

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