Sunday, February 18, 2001

Xavier 79, Rhode Island 65


Struggling Musketeers step up in second half

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Lionel Chalmers
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        Xavier's fast break toward the NCAA Tournament is over. Now seemingly begins a torturous march to March.

        The Musketeers needed a late surge to subdue Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island 79-65 Saturday night at Cintas Center. In the first of three apparent must-win games, XU could register only relief.

        “We got a "W,' so it could have been a heck of a lot worse,” senior guard Maurice McAfee said. “Now we've just got to forget it and worry about the next game.”

        The victory moves XU (19-5) into second place in the A-10 at 10-3, a half-game ahead of Massachusetts (9-3). St. Joseph's is first at 10-1.

        There were anxious moments at halftime, as XU had just rallied to tie a team rated 232nd in the RPI. But after some initial pointed comments from coach Skip Prosser, co-captains McAfee and Reggie Butler stepped forward to tell the team to relax.

[img]
Maurice McAfee
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        “That's what your leaders should do,” XU assistant Mark Schmidt said. “If you have a young team, sometimes you yell and guys will panic. But we have good leadership. They understand what's at stake and they took it upon themselves to get the guys going.”

        The difference was defense. Rhode Island (5-21, 1-12 A-10), which played fast and loose while the host Musketeers were flat-footed early, couldn't crack XU's defense thereafter. After shooting 53.6 percent in the first half, URI made eight second-half baskets while shooting 25.8 percent.

        “When we guard, we're OK,” Prosser said. “When we don't, we struggle. We didn't guard in the first half, and I'm not pleased with that. But it was much better in the second half.”

        XU, creating fast-break opportunities off turnovers and defensive rebounds, shot 52 percent in the second half to finish at 41.3 percent.

        Sophomore center David West totaled 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 17th double-double, the 16th in his last 19 games. Junior forward Kevin Frey led all scorers with 22 points, 15 of which came after halftime.

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David West
(AP photo)
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        XU gradually built its lead in the second half, leading 60-52 with 10:52 left, but it couldn't put the Rams away.

        That's when Frey scored the first six points of an 8-0 run that stretched the lead to 14 with a minute left.

        “It wasn't pretty, but I never promised it would be,” Prosser said. “We're 19-5. There are probably 250 or 275 teams who wish they could trade places with us.”

        In must-win mode for at least two more games, the victory Saturday had a survive-and-advance feel to it. Rather than talking about the game just finished, several Musketeers were mentioning St. Bonaventure — Wednesday's opponent.

        “We talked about it at length the other day: This is where we're at and what's at stake,” Prosser said. “It's up to our commitment collectively to see how we play this thing out. We've put ourselves in position (to reach the NCAA Tournament); now we have to finish it.”

        XU freshman guard Romain Sato totaled 11 points and seven rebounds.

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Lionel Price
(AP photo)
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        The Musketeers continued to struggle from 3-point range, going 4-for-18 (22.2 percent). They came in shooting 31.2 percent on the season, their worst mark ever.

        In its previous six games, URI trailed at halftime by an average of 12 points. But the Rams were tied at intermission 40-40 Saturday.

        The Musketeers came out flat and didn't improve the entire first half. They allowed the Rams to shoot 15-for-28; URI averages just 41.3 percent. Nine of URI's first-half baskets came either on dunks, layups or point-blank bank shots.

        XU had nine offensive rebounds in the half, which helped it total 10 more shots than URI, but XU still shot just 34.2 percent (13-for-38). This, against a team allowing 45.4-percent shooting on the season.

        URI, which had been outrebounded by an average of 16.9 a game the previous seven games, held a 21-19 advantage on the boards at halftime.

        XU fell behind by as many as six points at 32-26, but tied it on two possessions with a 3-pointer by Sato and a 3-point play by West.

Frey ends scoring slump
Former Muskies see NBA action
Xavier women play last home game today


RHODE ISLAND (65)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Bell            36   6-8   3-4   1-1  1  2   16
Scott           21   2-6   1-2   1-7  3  5    5
Evans           19   3-5   1-2   5-9  0  4    7
Daniels         36  5-14   1-2   1-3  4  4   13
Mello           12   0-3   0-0   1-1  2  0    0
Womack          27  3-11   0-0   0-8  1  3    6
Wafula          11   1-4   2-3   0-3  0  5    4
Marbury         12   1-3   4-6   0-0  1  0    6
Adingono         6   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Smith           20   2-4   2-2   0-1  2  0    8
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-59 14-21  9-33 14 24   65
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.390, FT-.667. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Bell 1-1, Scott 0-1, Daniels 2-5,
Mello 0-1, Womack 0-1, Marbury 0-1, Adingono 0-1,
Smith 2-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2
(Bell, Wafula). Turnovers: 12 (Bell 3, Womack 3,
Daniels 2, Scott 2, Marbury, Mello). Steals: 3
(Bell, Scott, Womack).


XAVIER (79)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            32  7-18   8-9   3-9  1  3   22
Price           15   1-3   5-6   1-2  1  4    7
West            34  5-11   6-6  5-11  3  1   16
Sato            35   4-8   0-0   1-7  2  3   11
Mcafee          39   3-9   2-4   0-0  4  3    9
Chalmers        27  4-10   0-1   3-4  0  1    8
Young            3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Brown            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
Butler          14   2-3   2-3   3-5  0  2    6
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 26-63 23-29 16-38 12 18   79
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.413, FT-.793. 3-Point Goals:
4-18, .222 (Frey 0-3, Price 0-1, Sato 3-5, Mcafee
1-5, Chalmers 0-3, Young 0-1). Team rebounds: 1.
Blocked shots: 6 (West 4, Sato, Butler).
Turnovers: 9 (Price 3, Mcafee 2, West 2, Brown,
Chalmers). Steals: 6 (Frey 2, Chalmers, Mcafee,
Sato, West).
__________________________________
Rhode Island       40   25  -   65
Xavier             40   39  -   79
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 10,250. Officials: Joe
Mingle, David Elliott, Merv Shapiro.


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Frey ends scoring slump
Former Muskies see NBA action
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