Friday, March 05, 1999

XAVIER 72, MASSACHUSETTS 68


A big, hearty X-hale

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[brown]
The Lenny Brown Show included had 31 points, five rebounds and three assists.
(AP photo)

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        PHILADELPHIA — Lenny Brown said the final seconds seemed like they were lasting forever. He yearned for the sound of the final buzzer.

        “I just wanted to get it over with,” he said.

        Then, relief.

        Xavier almost squandered a 17-point second-half lead over Massachusetts on Thursday but held on with key free throws in the final minute for a 72-68 victory in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

        The Musketeers (21-9) play Temple (20-8) at 7 p.m. today for the right to advance to Saturday's championship game.

        Xavier hopes to have erased any doubts that it will be in the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament.

A-10 TOURNEY
Thursday
• Temple 64, Va. Tech 51
• Xavier 72, UMass 68
• Geo, Washington 100, Dayton 90
• La Salle 81, Rhode Island 54
Today
• Temple vs. XU, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports Ohio)
• George Washington vs. Rhode Island, 9:30 p.m.
        Coach Skip Prosser: “I believe so. We have as many wins as we had last year. Our league record is better.”

        Senior Lenny Brown: “I don't think we'd have gotten in if we would've lost. I think we should be in there now.”

        Senior James Posey: “If it was up to me, we would've been in the tournament (before), no question. (Tonight) if we win, it gives us more cushion.”

        “If we win this whole tournament, we get an automatic bid and that's what we're striving for,” sophomore Maurice McAfee said.

[lumpkin]
Gary Lumpkin dives late to a loose ball.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        OK, back to the game.

        Massachusetts trailed by 11 at halftime and spent almost all day playing catchup.

        It got within two points twice in the last 38 seconds, but each time the Musketeers answered.

        After a short, soft bank shot by Winston Smith pulled UMass within 68-66, XU senior Gary Lumpkin was fouled. He went to the line in a one-and-one situation and nailed both free throws.

        A short jumper in the paint by guard Monty Mack cut it to 70-68, then Posey was fouled. It was another one-and-one situation, and he, too, made both free throws with 13.7 seconds left.

        The Minutemen missed their final two shots. Their disappointing season ended at 14-16.

        “I think it's good for our confidence more than anything,” Brown said. “I knew we were going to make free throws down the stretch. As long as we had the lead, I felt good.”

        It was a frustrating, yet satisfying victory.

        The Musketeers led 57-40 with 13:35 remaining after a three-pointer from freshman Kevin Frey. But UMass came back with 10 straight points, including back-to-back three-pointers by Mack that cut it to 57-50 with 11:16 to go.

        “We knew they weren't going to quit,” Brown said.

        “Basketball fundamentals, if you don't treat them with great respect, are going to come back and haunt you most of the time,” Prosser said. “And we didn't show a great appreciation for time and score, for blocking out and taking care of the basketball, and it almost came back to haunt us.”

        Xavier's last field goal came with 4:29 left, and during a stretch of almost nine minutes, Brown was the only Musketeer to score.

        He tied his career high with 31 points — 19 coming in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting.

        “We watch games on TV and a lot of the seniors who lose and don't win their conference tournaments, we know they're going home, and I just don't want that feeling right now,” Brown said. “I want to play as long as we can.”

        Posey pitched in with 17 points and 10 rebounds — his fifth straight double-double — despite being in foul trouble much of the game. Posey had just five points at halftime. He and Brown combined for all but seven of XU's second-half points.

        “I want to play basketball here as long as possible with this group of guys,” Posey said. “We share so much over the year. The only way we can keep sharing it is to keep winning. I enjoy being around these guys; I don't want it to come to and end yet.”

        UMass was hurt by the absence of senior guard Charlton Clarke, who aggravated a stress fracture in his right foot Wednesday night in a victory over Duquesne and did not play.

        Mack missed his first five shots and had just three points at halftime. The No. 3 scorer in the Atlantic 10 Conference (17.8 ppg) finished with 18, including four three-pointers.

        Chris Kirkland led UMass with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and in two games against XU has averaged 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds.

        “We felt like that should've been a 15 or 20-point game,” Lumpkin said.

        “We were trying to knock them out. There were times they came down and just hit some big shots. We stuck together. We didn't hang our heads when they went on a run. We've got players who have been through it before for the past four years. I think that showed today.”

Now Muskies can relax - a little Tim Sullivan column
A-10 ROUNDUP
Pitt picks coach - and it's not Prosser


MASSACHUSETTS (68)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Kirkland        36  7-14  8-11  5-10  3  3   22
Babul            9   0-0   0-1   0-0  0  3    0
Ketner          33  5-11   1-3  5-15  0  4   11
M Mack          40  7-19   0-0   2-6  0  3   18
Depina          25   2-7   0-1   0-0  3  2    4
Cruz            15   1-4   0-0   0-2  6  4    2
Smith           27   2-3   3-4   0-1  2  1    7
Blizzard         9   2-3   0-0   1-1  0  1    4
Rhymer           6   0-0   0-1   0-1  0  1    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 26-61 12-21 13-36 14 22   68
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.426, FT-.571. 3-Point Goals:
4-18, .222 (Kirkland 0-1, M Mack 4-11, Depina
0-2, Cruz 0-3, Blizzard 0-1). Team rebounds: 6.
Blocked shots: 3 (Ketner 2, Smith). Turnovers: 13
(Depina 4, Cruz 2, Kirkland 2, M Mack 2, Babul,
Ketner, Smith). Steals: 10 (Kirkland 5, Depina 3,
Cruz, Smith).


XAVIER (72)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            26   1-3   2-2   0-1  0  5    5
Posey           31   3-6  9-12  1-10  2  4   17
Turner          35   2-7   0-0   2-4  0  3    4
L Brown         36  9-18 10-12   2-5  3  2   31
Lumpkin         31   1-5   4-4   0-4  4  1    6
Mcafee          24   2-4   0-0   1-1  0  1    5
Harris           2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Price           15   2-7   0-1   1-2  0  2    4
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 20-50 25-31  7-27  9 18   72
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.400, FT-.806. 3-Point Goals:
7-19, .368 (Frey 1-1, Posey 2-3, L Brown 3-10,
Lumpkin 0-1, Mcafee 1-2, Price 0-2). Team
rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Posey, Price).
Turnovers: 15 (L Brown 5, Posey 3, Frey 2, Mcafee
2, Harris, Lumpkin, Price). Steals: 8 (Posey 3, L
Brown, Lumpkin, Mcafee, Price, Turner).
__________________________________
Massachusetts      30   38  -   68
Xavier             41   31  -   72
__________________________________
Technical fouls: Massachusetts 1 (Ketner).  A:
7,092. Officials: Joe Demayo, David Day, Ron
Foxcroft.

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