Thursday, March 18, 1999

Xavier makes 'other' Final Four

Posey rallies Musketeers into NIT semifinals

The Cincinnati Enquirer

James Posey is mobbed by fans after the game.
(AP photo)

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        The Xavier fans swarmed the court and had James Posey up on their shoulders. He slapped high-fives while “New York, New York” played on the loud speakers.

        “It was just a big party at the Gardens,” Posey said. “That's the way to go out.”

        Strained hip and all, the Xavier senior grabbed the final rebound with six seconds left, dribbled with his right hand and signaled No.1 with his left.

        Barely able to run during the last 10 minutes, Posey helped Xavier rally from a 16-point deficit and get past Princeton 65-58 Wednesday night to earn a spot in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

Posey had 19 points, 11 rebounds.
(AP photo)

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        Xavier (24-10) plays the winner of tonight's Butler-Clemson game on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

        “Now we're really starting to believe that we can win it all,” Posey said.

        XU finishes 15-0 at home this season, has won 17 straight at the Cincinnati Gardens — the ninth-longest home winning streak in the country — and is 5-0 in the building in NIT games. The crowd of 7,815 was one of the loudest of the season.

        Princeton (22-8), which was ahead 38-23 with 19:31 to play, had only four first-half turnovers but finished with 14. Xavier had just six turnovers — zero in the second half.

Posey hustles on defense.
(Steve Shaffer photo)

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        Posey finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Musketeers. Lenny Brown added 14 points and Gary Lumpkin 12, but they were a combined 9-of-29 shooting.

        Posey said he fell after getting fouled trying for a rebound basket with 13:03 remaining. Two minutes later, he called a timeout and dropped to the floor for almost a minute, then came out.

        With 9:38 to go, Posey returned, limping and moving slowly. He said pain was shooting through his lower back.

        “Being a senior, I didn't want this to be my last game,” he said. “I tried to do what I was capable of doing. I didn't want to let my teammates down.”

Alvin Brown played a key role in the comeback.
(Steve Shaffer photo)

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        The game was a classic clash of contrasting styles.

        The first half was played the Princeton way — precision passing and sharp cutting.

        The second half was almost all Xavier — controlled chaos caused by its full-court press.

        The Musketeers trailed 42-30 with 14:06 remaining, then scored seven straight points during a 22-7 spurt that saw them take the lead on a tip-in by Posey.

        A key series during the run: Redshirt freshman Alvin Brown, who hadn't played since Feb. 24, hit a three-pointer to pull XU within 44-40. He then stole the ball in the backcourt and went in for a layup to cut Princeton's lead to two.

        “Obviously we don't win the game without Alvin Brown,” XU coach Skip Prosser said.

Gary Lumpkin.
(Steve Shaffer photo)

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        At the team's pregame meal Wednesday, Prosser thanked seldom-used reserves Alvin Brown, Obi Harris and Reggie Butler for their effort in practice and the way they have handled not playing much “like class individuals.”

        When Maurice McAfee went out with bruised ribs with 3:50 left in the first half, Alvin Brown was needed.

        “I've really been waiting my turn,” he said. His seven points were his most since Nov. 21.

        A three-pointer by Posey from in front of the Xavier bench cut Princeton's lead to 49-48.

        After a Tiger turnover, Brown missed a three-point attempt, Aaron Turner missed the putback, but Posey snuck inside for the tip. After another turnover — on a 35-second call — Turner rebounded a Brown miss and scored to put the Musketeers ahead 52-49.

        Princeton tied it at 54, then Brown hit a three-pointer with 3:24 left, and Xavier never trailed again. “We just had that refuse to lose attitude,” Lumpkin said.

        In the first half, the Tigers put on a clinic and had the Musketeers confused from the tipoff. Princeton's first two possessions: a dunk and a back-door layup.

        “We knew it was coming and we couldn't stop it,” Posey said. “It was like a shock to us.”

        “We looked like orange cones out there,” Prosser said.

        That set the tone. And it didn't get a whole lot better in the first half for Xavier, which could not solve Princeton offensively or defensively and found itself trailing 35-23 at intermission.

        XU had just eight first-half baskets, five of which were three-pointers. It could not get into its full-court press because it couldn't score.

        At halftime, Prosser told his team to be more aggressive, that it was do or die.

        “It wasn't Vince Lombardi, necessarily,” he said of his pep talk. “But if we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging, not with a bat on our shoulders.

        “... I've been around the school a long time, since '85. I've seen some classic moments. I can't remember ever being more proud of a bunch of guys than I was tonight.”

- Xavier makes 'other' Final Four
XU playing with heart, playing to win Tim Sullivan column
XU Notebook
Oregon 77, Texas Christian 68

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Lewullis        40   4-9   0-1   1-4  1  2   10
Rocca           40  5-10   0-1  4-12  5  4   11
Young           40  9-12   3-3   2-6  6  2   21
Earl            40  3-11   2-2   0-3  2  3   10
El-nokali       29   1-2   0-0   0-2  0  2    3
Chapman         11   1-2   0-0   0-0  1  0    3
TOTALS         200 23-46   5-7  7-27 15 13   58

Percentages: FG-.500, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Lewullis 2-4, Rocca 1-3, Young 0-2, Earl 2-9, El-nokali 1-1, Chapman 1-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Young, Earl). Turnovers: 12 (Earl 5, Young 4, Chapman, Lewullis, Rocca). Steals: 5 (Chapman, Earl, Lewullis, Rocca, Young).

XAVIER (65) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Frey 23 2-4 1-2 1-3 3 1 6 Posey 39 6-10 4-6 5-11 2 2 19 Turner 30 2-5 0-0 4-4 1 2 4 L Brown 32 5-17 2-2 0-2 3 2 14 Lumpkin 37 4-12 1-2 1-1 1 0 12 Mcafee 11 0-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 0 A Brown 8 3-4 0-0 0-1 0 1 7 Price 20 1-1 1-2 2-6 1 3 3 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 23-56 9-14 13-28 12 12 65 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.411, FT-.643. 3-Point Goals: 10-26, .385 (Frey 1-1, Posey 3-4, L Brown 2-8, Lumpkin 3-8, Mcafee 0-3, A Brown 1-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 6 (Price 3, Lumpkin, Posey, Turner). Steals: 8 (Posey 3, Lumpkin 2, A Brown, Frey, L Brown). __________________________________ Princeton 35 23 - 58 Xavier 23 42 - 65 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 7,815. Officials: Jim Copenhaver, Craig Griffith, Bill Kaminski.