Sunday, February 10, 2002

Muskies unravel; streak is over

Bonnies' rally ends XU's magic

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OLEAN, N.Y. — The locals call this the Enchanted Mountains region, and it was enough so Saturday for St. Bonaventure to end the Musketeers' magical run.

        Perhaps on the brink of a national ranking, Xavier lost a late seven-point lead and the nation's longest active winning streak in an 80-79 loss at St.Bonaventure.

        The Bonnies got 14 points in six possessions to steal the lead, then survived a frantic finish as Romain Sato's potential game-winning, 12-foot jumper bounced twice on the rim but didn't drop.

        “This hurts bad right now,” Sato said.

        St.Bonaventure's students mobbed the court, preventing the Musketeers from leaving. With students heckling and shoving XU players, David West had to push his way out of the crowd.

        The loss ended XU's 12-game winning streak and its bid for a perfect Atlantic 10 season. XU (17-4, 9-1 A-10) had been 8-1 on the road.

        “We took control, but then we let them back in it,” West said. “We've gotta want to win more than that.”

        XU led 72-65 with 2:47 left but its star, West, already had fouled out. The Bonnies stormed to a four-point lead with 11.9 seconds left, but a David Young 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left cut the deficit to a point.

        After a timeout, Sato stole the inbounds pass but was bumped by J.R. Bremer on his shot, and XU couldn't come up with the rebound.

        “I think I got fouled, but it's a home game (for St.Bonaventure); no one is going to call it,” Sato said.

        The smallish Bonnies (14-8, 6-5), who have the nation's most prolific 3-point attack, mustered a stunning 32 points in the paint and 11 offensive rebounds — including three crucial ones in their late surge. They consistently scored on drives to the basket, and they took advantage of West's absence late.

        XU had come back from a 13-point first-half deficit to hold a lead that fluctuated from three to six points throughout the second half. But West drew his fourth and fifth fouls in a 24-second span, exiting with 3:55 left.

        After Lionel Chalmers made two free throws to give XU its largest lead at 72-65, the Bonnies started back with a Vidal Massiah stickback. Bremer sank a 12-footer and was fouled, converting the 3-point play. Then he was fouled on a layup and converted another 3-point play, tying the score 73-73. It was an 8-1 run in 35 seconds.

        Sato made two free throws, but St.Bonaventure got a second-chance basket on a Marques Green 18-footer. Young missed a 3-pointer, and Massiah made two free throws to give the Bonnies the lead.

        Chalmers was called for a double-dribble with a minute left. Gansey stuck in an offensive rebound with 28 seconds left: 79-75.

        Chalmers made one of two free throws with 15 seconds left. Bremer did the same on the other end: 80-76 with 11.9 seconds left. That set up Young's basket and Sato's near-miss.

        “It took an almost superhuman effort for us to come back, and we obviously dodged a bullet there in the last seconds,” Bonnies coach Jan van Breda Kolff said.

        Chalmers, facing the most aggressive defense in the league, had arguably the finest game of his two-year career. He scored a career-high 26 points and tied a career high with nine assists.

        But his five turnovers included two in the final three minutes, and XU committed 20 turnovers overall.

        “We had the lead, and there's no reason we why we can't maintain it,” Chalmers said. “But they made all the big plays, and we didn't step up and get (defensive) stops. We didn't weather the storm.”

        UP NEXT:

        XU has four of its final six games at home. It plays host to George Washington (10-12, 3-8 A-10) at 7:30p.m. Thursday.

Box Score

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Frey            37   2-7   0-0   3-5  2  5    4
Young           37   3-7   3-4   3-4  1  3   11
West            29   6-8   4-5  4-14  1  5   17
Chalmers        38  8-13   7-9   0-3  9  1   26
Sato            39  5-12   4-6   2-7  1  3   16
Williams         7   1-3   1-2   0-1  0  2    4
Brown            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Jackson         12   0-1   1-2   1-1  0  3    1
TOTALS         200 25-51 20-28 13-35 14 22   79

Percentages: FG-.490, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
9-20, .450 (Frey 0-1, Young 2-5, West 1-1,
Chalmers 3-6, Sato 2-5, Williams 1-2). Team
rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Young). Turnovers:
20 (Chalmers 5, Sato 5, Frey 3, West 3, Young 3,
Williams). Steals: 3 (Chalmers, West, Young).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Massiah         31   4-8   2-2   2-5  2  3   12
Prato           32   4-8   3-4   0-3  1  5   12
Cheeks          22   0-1   2-2   2-3  0  3    2
Bremer          38  9-21  6-11   2-4  3  3   26
Green           38  7-12   0-0   0-2  2  3   16
Gansey          22   4-7   3-3   3-5  0  2   11
Shepherd         3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Methot Lottin    2   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Ruddock         12   0-0   1-2   2-6  1  2    1
TOTALS         200 28-58 17-24 11-28  9 23   80

Percentages: FG-.483, FT-.708. 3-Point Goals:
7-19, .368 (Massiah 2-4, Prato 1-2, Bremer 2-5,
Green 2-5, Gansey 0-2, Methot Lottin 0-1). Team
rebounds: None. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers:
12 (Bremer 4, Massiah 3, Gansey 2, Green 2,
Cheeks). Steals: 6 (Bremer 3, Green 2, Prato).
Xavier             36   43  -   79
St Bonaventure     43   37  -   80
Technical fouls: None.  A: 6,000. Officials:
Steve Turner, Larry Scirotto, Jack Sweeney.

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