Saturday, January 06, 2001

Xavier still stings from La Salle loss


Explorers only visitors to beat XU in 38 games

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's hard for a team to complain about winning 37 of its past 38 home games. But when Xavier gets a visit Sunday from LaSalle, the memory of that lone loss will ache.

        The Explorers' 80-49 upset of XU last season in Cincinnati Gardens was one of the most stunning — and costly — in Musketeers history (Story).

        “It still stings,” XU coach Skip Prosser said. “That was the nadir of the season. We just didn't put up a fight, and that was very disheartening.”

        The combination of numbers was startling.

        XU had a 24-game home winning streak, the fifth-longest in the nation. The Explorers entered 6-9, on an eight-game losing streak. XU had beaten LaSalle in 14 of their 15 previous meetings.

        The 31-point margin was XU's second-worst ever at the Gardens, the worst in 39 years. It was XU's lowest scoring total in 16 years.

        “We shouldn't take anyone for granted, but that's what we did,” sophomore center David West said. “We looked at their record and figured, since they were coming into the Gardens they were going to roll over for us.”

        XU gained revenge a month later, winning at LaSalle. But when XU was on the NCAA Tournament bubble, that 31-point home loss was damning. XU got shipped to the NIT.

        West said articles from the LaSalle loss have been posted in the locker room. Not that the players needed reminding.

        “I wouldn't say I dwell on that game, but I don't ever want to feel that way again,” junior forward Lloyd Price said.

        Said Kevin Frey: “They wanted it more and kicked our butts. We'll never take (an opponent) for granted again.”

        It's a good time to remember that feeling, so XU (10-2, 1-0 Atlantic 10) doesn't become overconfident about its postseason plans. The Musketeers have eight of the next 13 games at Cintas Center, where they're 6-0, and probably won't be underdogs again until visiting Dayton on March 4 in the regular-season finale.

        LaSalle is 6-6 (0-1 A-10).

        “Nobody could explain that game last year,” LaSalle coach Speedy Mor ris said. “We won't catch them napping again. It's their home A-10 opener ... It'll be a hostile environment.”

        MORE TICKETS: XU's alumni office returned a block of 80 tickets for Sunday's game, which previously was sold out. They are $15 seats. Call (513) 562-4949, visit TicketMaster outlets, or log on to TicketMaster.com.

       



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