Wednesday, March 24, 1999

CLEMSON 79, XAVIER 76


Muskies climb out of 24-point hole, falter at end

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[brown]
Lenny Brown misses a three at the end of the game
(AP photo)

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NEW YORK — Choking back tears in the Xavier locker room afterward, senior Lenny Brown took the Musketeers' 79-76 loss Tuesday night the hardest.

        After giving XU the lead with 1:26 left, Brown missed two three-point attempts in the final 10 seconds.

        “I take full blame,” Brown said. “I needed to play better for us to win this tournament, and I didn't. Everybody fought, and it seemed like I wasn't fighting with them.”

        Clemson built a 24-point lead early in the second half, saw it disappear, then made six free throws in the final 1:07 to defeat Xavier in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament before crowd of 9,455 at Madison Square Garden.

        Brown finished with 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting. He was 4-of-14 from three-point range.

[mcafee]
Maurice McAfee
(Craig Ruttle photo)

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        “We're behind him 100 percent,” teammate James Posey said. “He's made big shots for us all season and all four years he's been here.”

        Said senior Gary Lumpkin: “If it's up to me, I'm going to him every single time. I'd go to him 100 more times.”

        Xavier trailed by 11 at halftime, but Clemson started the second half with a 21-8 run that seemingly put the game out of reach.

        It was 61-37 with 14:48 remaining. Then, just like they did against Princeton when they trailed by 16, the Musketeers mounted a furious comeback.

        A 15-0 run cut it to 61-52 with 9:50 remaining.

        Clemson was still ahead 73-67 when Xavier scored six consecutive points — all on free throws — to tie it. The deadlock came when Lumpkin was fouled shooting a three-pointer, then dropped in three foul shots.

[posey]
James Posey
(Craig Ruttle photo)

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        After Andrus Jurkunas missed a three for the Tigers, Brown nailed one from close to NBA range for a 76-73 Xavier lead — its first since since the 8:35 mark of the first half.

        Harold Jamison of Clemson was fouled by Brown and made two free throws.

        With a one-point lead, XU let the clock run down, and freshman Lloyd Price fired a long three to beat the shot clock but missed badly. Posey fouled Tom Wideman.

        Wideman hit two foul shots to give Clemson a 77-76 lead with 29.3 seconds remaining.

        “The frustrating thing is we didn't give ourselves a chance to guard them ...” coach Skip Prosser said. “We kept fouling.”

[price]
Lloyd Price
(Craig Ruttle photo)

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        Xavier called a timeout with 19.6 seconds left.

        Brown got off a three-pointer from the top of the arc that missed. Jurkunas grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 5.9 seconds left.

        He made both free throws for a 79-76 lead.

        Brown missed another three-point try at the buzzer.

        “I knew we didn't have much time left,” he said. “... I just pulled up.”

        XU (24-11) meets Oregon (19-12) at 5 p.m. Thursday in the consolation game. Clemson (20-14) plays California (21-11) at 7:30 for the championship. Cal beat Oregon 85-69 in Tuesday night's first semifinal.

        The Musketeers' two leading scorers, Posey and Brown both struggled.

        Posey, who had scored in double figures 10 straight games and led Xavier in all three NIT games, was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes. Playing with a strained hip/back and missing short shots inside that he typically makes, he finished with 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

        Lumpkin led Xavier with 16 points — 10 in the first half — and Price added 13 off the bench.

        Despite six first-half three-pointers, Xavier trailed 40-29 at halftime.

        The Tigers finished the half on a 25-8 run, including the last five points.

        Clemson gave the Musketeers trouble inside on both ends of the court with its size and wasn't having any problem with XU's full-court pressure.

        No opponent has shot better than 40 percent against Clemson during the NIT, and XU was no exception, finishing 23-of-60 (38.3 percent).

        “We dug ourselves a hole,” Lumpkin said. “The main thing was we just scrapped. We didn't have guys hang their heads.”

        “I knew we weren't going to fold,” Posey said. “We've got pride. But the job isn't complete unless you get the win.”

- CLEMSON 79, XU 76
Notebook: Prosser may be Irish's No. 1 choice now
CALIFORNIA 85, OREGON 69
MARCH MADNESS PAGE


XAVIER (76)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            17   1-4   0-0   1-2  1  2    3
Posey           38  3-12   7-7   1-1  0  4   14
Turner          36   2-4   2-2   4-7  1  3    6
L Brown         32  4-17   2-2   1-5  3  3   14
Lumpkin         37   4-9   4-5   0-4  7  3   16
Mcafee          12   3-3   0-0   0-2  2  4    8
Price           23  5-10   1-2   0-2  1  1   13
Harris           3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
A Brown          2   1-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-60 16-18  7-24 15 21   76
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.383, FT-.889. 3-Point Goals: 14-37, .378 (Frey 1-1, Posey 1-5, L Brown 4-14, Lumpkin 4-9, Mcafee 2-2, Price 2-6). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 11 (Posey 5, L Brown 3, Frey 2, Lumpkin). Steals: 4 (Posey 2, Frey, Price).

CLEMSON (79) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Jamison 30 6-9 4-7 1-5 0 4 16 Jurkunas 30 2-8 4-4 1-4 3 3 8 Wideman 32 2-3 6-6 4-15 3 4 10 Mcintyre 40 7-11 2-2 1-2 5 3 20 Christie 28 6-10 2-5 0-1 2 1 16 Allenspach 12 1-2 0-2 0-2 0 1 2 Solomon 22 2-6 2-2 0-1 2 1 7 Gilmore 4 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 Braddick 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 26-49 20-28 7-31 15 17 79 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.531, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Jurkunas 0-6, Mcintyre 4-7, Christie 2-5, Solomon 1-3). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 4 (Wideman, Christie, Allenspach, Solomon). Turnovers: 12 (Mcintyre 3, Wideman 3, Christie 2, Solomon 2, Allenspach, Gilmore). Steals: 3 (Christie 2, Jamison). __________________________________ Xavier 29 47 - 76 Clemson 40 39 - 79 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Clemson 1 (Jamison). A: 9,455. Officials: John Hughes, William Bush, Jim Haney.