Thursday, March 11, 1999


Angry Musketeers 'take a stand'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Toledo's Robert Kizer gets the upper hand on James Posey in a scramble for a loose ball.
| ZOOM |
        TOLEDO — Skip Prosser calls the National Invitation Tournament “virgin territory” for him as a head coach. Because of that, he felt some research was in order on how to prepare his players.

        “Since Sunday night — rightly or wrongly — our kids have been in a state of mourning,” the Xavier coach said. “I talked to a million coaches about how to get them out of that. ... I think the guys ultimately wanted to keep playing.”

        And so Xavier lives to play another day.


        The Musketeers, stung by being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament, watched a 12-point lead all but disappear in the final five minutes Wednesday night before holding on for an 86-84 victory over Toledo in the first round of the NIT.

        Xavier (22-10) will play Wake Forest (17-13) on Monday or Tuesday. The date and site have not been announced. The Demon Deacons defeated Alabama 73-57 on Wednesday night.

        Prosser called former Xavier coach Pete Gillen to find out how he handled his Providence College team when it was on the NCAA bubble, then got sent to the NIT.

        The Friars played host to St. Joseph's and lost by 20, Prosser said. Gillen told him: “Skip, no matter what you say it's not going to make any difference.”

        It was up to the players, many of whom said Wednesday night they want to finish the season on a high note and can do so by advancing to New York for the NIT semifinals and final.

        “It was one of those things where it's time to take a stand,” XU senior Gary Lumpkin said. “If you're disappointed and ticked off, I think that's only going to make you play that much harder.”

        Xavier played angry much of the night.

        Angry that it didn't get into the NCAA Tournament. Angry that it lost to Toledo three months earlier.

        It was a high-intensity affair. There was plenty of physical play and trash-talking, especially early. The Musketeers were diving all over for loose balls, including right over the top of some Toledo players.

        “I think Pose (teammate James Posey) set the tone,” senior guard Lenny Brown said. “He played excellent. Everybody fed off him.”

        There were 15 lead changes in the second half before Xavier pulled away for a 77-65 advantage with 5:04 remaining.

        The Musketeers were ahead by two. Aaron Turner grabbed a ball that Lloyd Price lost and dunked it. Posey nailed back-to-back threes over Greg Stempin. Then Posey dove on the floor, got a steal passed it to Brown. XU beat Toledo down court in transition, and Price got a dunk.

        “Probably if he doesn't hit those, we lose,” Brown said of Posey's threes. “They don't get bigger than that.”

        Toledo rallied to within 79-75, but Posey tossed in another three over Stempin right in front of the Xavier bench to make it 82-75 with 1:04 left.

        “I was calling for the ball,” Posey said. “We needed a bucket.”

        The Rockets did not quit. They were within 82-80, then 84-82. They fouled Maurice McAfee. XU's sophomore point guard hit just 1-of-2 free throws.

        Stempin tipped in a missed three-point shot, and it was 85-84 Xavier with 2.4 seconds remaining. Again McAfee was fouled and again he hit 1-of-2 free throws.

        Toledo threw a full-court pass that Posey nabbed to seal the victory.

        “I had total confidence that we'd pull through at the end,” McAfee said. “It was unfortunate that I missed, but in the same situation I want the ball in my hands again.”

        Posey was 4-of-4 from three-point range and led Xavier with 20 points. Brown added 15, and McAfee came off the bench for 13. Freshman Kevin Frey also scored 13 points — 11 in the first half — and had his first double-digit scoring game since Jan. 17.

        Turner finished with a career-high 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

        “We don't want to lose any game no matter what,” Frey said. “We can still go out on a winning note.”

        “It wasn't a masterpiece,” Prosser said. “But our wins rarely are.”

        Toledo, which beat XU 74-67 in December, finishes 19-9 after a 10-0 start. Suspended freshman Justin Hall (11 ppg) did not play. It was only the second loss at home for the Rockets in 16 games.

        The atmosphere at Toledo's Savage Hall was much different than it was on Dec. 9, when students were lined up outside the arena waiting for the doors to open and fireworks were shot off inside the building before a crowd of 7,002.

        Wednesday night, there were no fireworks, the students were on spring break and only 3,000 fans attended the game — many from Xavier. Most of the upper arena was empty.

        “We didn't want to lose up here twice,” Brown said. “We just came out and weren't going to let that happen. We got the last laugh. We ended their season.”

        Xavier Stories
Notebook: Uh-oh: Prosser mentioned for Notre Dame job
Wake Forest next for Xavier
NIT scores and schedule
Rough road to the Shoe for UC, XU women

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Posey           33  7-11   2-2   1-6  2  4   20
Turner          26   5-5   2-6   4-7  0  3   12
Frey            27   4-8   4-5   1-2  0  4   13
L Brown         32  5-11   3-4   1-5  2  2   15
Lumpkin         30   2-7   4-4   0-5  6  4    9
Mcafee          29   4-9   2-4   0-1  3  0   13
Harris           2   0-0   0-0   1-1  0  0    0
Price           21   2-5   0-0   3-4  0  0    4
TOTALS         200 29-56 17-25 11-31 13 17   86

Percentages: FG-.518, FT-.680. 3-Point Goals: 11-24, .458 (Posey 4-4, Frey 1-3, L Brown 2-7, Lumpkin 1-5, Mcafee 3-5). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 4 (Price 2, Posey, Harris). Turnovers: 14 (Lumpkin 4, Posey 3, L Brown 2, Turner 2, Frey, Mcafee, Price). Steals: 9 (Posey 3, Frey 2, L Brown 2, Price, Turner).

TOLEDO (84) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Kizer 26 1-5 0-0 3-5 1 3 2 Stempin 38 9-14 7-8 5-10 2 1 25 Fedak 34 10-12 2-3 1-5 5 4 23 Kamstra 37 3-15 1-2 2-4 5 4 10 Norman 32 7-10 0-0 1-2 4 3 17 Scott 14 0-1 1-2 0-2 2 1 1 Cullars 10 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 Wilson 9 1-4 4-4 0-0 0 2 6 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 31-63 15-19 12-28 19 20 84 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.492, FT-.789. 3-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Kizer 0-1, Stempin 0-2, Fedak 1-1, Kamstra 3-11, Norman 3-5, Cullars 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 2 (Stempin 2). Turnovers: 13 (Fedak 4, Norman 4, Cullars, Kamstra, Kizer, Scott, Stempin). Steals: 7 (Stempin 3, Cullars 2, Kamstra, Scott). __________________________________ Xavier 36 50 - 86 Toledo 37 47 - 84 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Xavier 1 (Frey). Toledo 1 (Wilson). A: 3,000. Officials: Tim Mcaleer, Bob Madigan, Pat Driscoll.

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