Sunday, January 13, 2002

Chalmers, XU's win streak growing


Jr. guard shows maturation as Muskies go to 3-0 in A-10

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
XU's David West reacts to the ref's call.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |
        Many Xavier games this season have invoked deja vu. The Musketeers get a lead, see it shrink, and then make enough key plays late to hang on. One can't complain about the end result.

        It's a lot like Lionel Chalmers' season. The XU junior has had ups and downs in his first year as the starting point guard, but he usually guides the Musketeers to the finish line intact.

        Chalmers' maturation hit a high mark Saturday in a 72-62 victory over Richmond, one that extended XU's winning streak to six. XU, which owns sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 West, is 11-3 overall and 3-0 in the A-10.

        “(When) he has a pulse on the game, I think that definitely helps our team,” XU coach Thad Matta said.

        Richmond was perhaps Chalmers' most difficult assignment, as the Spiders (7-8, 1-1) change defenses nearly every possession. But Chalmers totaled 14 points with five assists and just two turnovers, directing an offense that made 52.3 percent of its shots — the third-best shooting performance of the season.

        Considering the defense he was attacking, and that he had averaged one assist the previous three games, this was a big step forward.

        “I really credit Lionel,” Matta said. “We've been on him about decision-making. ... The times we've put Jaison (Williams) in (for Chalmers), he gave us lifts, because he has a great feel for the game. That's what we need, and that's what Lionel gave us today.”

        Chalmers has had some tough nights this season, being benched during the Purdue and Siena games. He entered Saturday's game with the same number of turnovers as assists (42 apiece), and his assist average of 3.2 ranked 14th in a 12-team league.

        Yet there were long stretches Saturday when he ran an efficient ship. XU had six turnovers in the first 6 1/2 minutes but totaled just two turnovers the next 20 minutes of play.

        Chalmers had a scoring surge midway through the second half, hitting a 3-pointer and then sinking a high-arching, pull-up jumper on the ensuing possession.

        And he made perhaps the game's most critical play. With two minutes left to play and XU holding onto a 61-59 lead, teammate Romain Sato had a pass picked off by Richmond's Johnathan Collins, but Chalmers swiped the ball back as Richmond raced up court.

        Matta called time out to calm his team, and then Sato scored on a baseline drive — capping his game-high 20-point day — to provide XU breathing room. David West scored four points in the next minute to seal matters. West finished with 18 points.

        “We had to make plays, and we've got guys that can step up and make them,” Chalmers said. “It's just been consistent (during this streak), and hopefully it will continue.”

        The task Saturday was something Chalmers might not face again, except in the rematch at Richmond. As he described it, sometimes he would bring the ball up court, recognize man-to-man defense, call a play suited to attack, then realize Richmond had switched to zone defense in mid-possession.

        “That's pretty tough to do at times,” Matta said of Chalmers' duties. “But he did a very good job of running our team and keeping them together down the stretch.”

        XU's winning streak matches two runs of that length last season as the longest since a 10-game streak in the 1998-99 season.

       



Box Score


RICHMOND (62)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Skrocki         35  3-10   2-2   0-0  4  2   10
Collins         21   5-8   2-5   3-6  1  4   12
Ungerer         40   5-9   2-2   4-5  4  4   13
Myers           37   5-7   1-1   0-2  2  3   14
Brown           37  5-15   1-2   1-5  4  2   11
Dobbins         12   0-3   2-4   0-2  0  0    2
Faulconer        9   0-2   0-0   0-3  0  4    0
Omalley          9   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-55 10-16  8-23 15 20   62
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.418, FT-.625. 3-Point Goals:
6-18, .333 (Skrocki 2-6, Ungerer 1-2, Myers 3-5,
Brown 0-5). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 2
(Collins, Faulconer). Turnovers: 9 (Ungerer 3,
Collins 2, Skrocki 2, Brown, Dobbins). Steals: 7
(Collins 3, Myers 3, Brown).


XAVIER (72)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            38   2-5   2-2   3-8  0  1    6
Young           26   2-5   2-2   0-2  0  1    7
West            31   5-9   7-9   1-5  0  3   18
Chalmers        36   4-7   4-5   0-3  5  4   14
Sato            38  7-12   3-3   1-6  2  2   20
Williams         4   0-0   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
Coleman          6   1-2   0-0   0-1  0  0    2
Brown            4   1-2   0-0   0-0  0  0    2
Jackson         17   1-2   1-2   0-1  2  2    3
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-44 19-23  5-26 10 13   72
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.523, FT-.826. 3-Point Goals:
7-14, .500 (Young 1-3, West 1-1, Chalmers 2-3,
Sato 3-7). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 4
(Frey 2, Young, Sato). Turnovers: 13 (Frey 3,
Sato 3, West 3, Chalmers 2, Young 2). Steals: 5
(Jackson 2, Brown, Chalmers, Sato).
__________________________________
Richmond           23   39  -   62
Xavier             25   47  -   72
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 10,250. Officials: Ken
Clark, Sean Hull, David Elliott.
                                                                        


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