Thursday, March 04, 1999

XU's last-second heroes? Uh, zero

No buzzer-beater since Nov. '96

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — It is going to happen again eventually. Perhaps it will be today against Massachusetts (2:30 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio) in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

        Maybe it will be later this week, or sometime next week.

• When: 2:30 p.m. today
• Where: First Union, Spectrum, Philadelphia
• Records: Xavier 20-9; UMass 14-15
• TV: Fox Sports Ohio
• Radio: WKRC-AM (550)
• 4-2: Xavier's all-time record in the A-10 tournament
.758: James Posey's career rebounds, eighth-best in XU history
• 195: School-record three-pointers by XU this season (previous record: 170)
• 596: School-record three-point attempts by XU this season (previous record: 487)
        Xavier will be faced with a last-second situation — a chance to make a shot or stop an opponent to win a game.

        Not since Lenny Brown's jump shot beat then-No. 1 Cincinnati in November 1996 have the Musketeers beaten the buzzer for a victory.

        “Maybe part of it's luck of the draw,” XU coach Skip Prosser said. “Part of me feels like when you have veteran guards like we've had the last few years, then we should win more than our share of those games. It's disconcerting. I'm not pleased about it.”

        It's been more than 27 months since XU made a game-winning basket in the final seconds.

        Just in the past two weeks, Xavier lost when senior point guard Gary Lumpkin's shot missed at the end of the second overtime against Massachusetts, and when Shawnta Rogers' three-pointer at the buzzer gave George Washington a victory last Saturday.

        Examples from last season:

        • Washington, March '98 (69-68): Lumpkin misses an off-balance jumper and T.J. Johnson misses inside in the final 1.7 seconds in the NCAA Tournament's first round.

        • Rhode Island, February '98 (69-68): Brown misses two free throws with 39.9 seconds left; and in the last eight seconds Lumpkin and James Posey each miss three-point attempts.

        • George Washington, January '98 (78-73): Mike King gets fouled after getting an offensive rebound for the Colonials, and with no time left in regulation he hits two free throws to send it into overtime.

        • Purdue, December '97 (86-84): Brown misses a last-second shot from the left side.

        “We're a team that doesn't have a large margin for error,” Prosser said.

        There are games Xavier has pulled away in the last minute and a half, and victories when it has held on with a big shot near the end.

        But we're talking about making one basket when a win or a losss is at stake.

        After Saturday's game at GW, Prosser spent some time with former Pittsburgh coach Paul Evans, who told the Xavier coach: “In the long run, it all evens out.”

        “Maybe he's right,” Prosser said. “I don't know.

        “Part of me doesn't think so. Part of me thinks you have to make the plays, make your own luck. The last four possessions against GW, they scored all four of them and three times they got multiple opportunities at the basket.”

        Xavier tries to prepare for those situations. Just last week, leading up to the GW game, Prosser stressed defensive rebounding and implored his team not to lose the Atlantic 10 West title because it gave the Colonials a second shot. “Three seconds for a championship,” Prosser shouted.

        He proved prophetic. That's exactly how XU lost. After Rogers' first shot went up and missed, GW got the offensive rebound and hit the game-winner.

        “We work on end-game situations and all that, but it's hard to really simulate all that in practice,” Prosser said. “You can work on the plays, but (not) the pressure and the defense that has to happen in the game. It's really frustrating.”

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