|B.J. Raymond's late 3-pointers lift Xavier over West Virginia 79-75 in OT, into round of 8|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 27 March 2008 16:29|
B.J. Raymond made two 3-pointers in the last 1:18 of overtime Thursday night and the Musketeers advanced to the West Region final with a 79-75 victory over coach Bob Huggins' Mountaineers.
Third-seeded Xavier (30-6) will seek its first Final Four appearance when it plays the winner of the UCLA-Western Kentucky game in the regional final on Saturday.
Raymond, who had made only one field goal all night, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Musketeers ahead 75-74 with 1:18 to play. He then shook loose on an inbounds play, took a crosscourt pass and made a 3 with the shot clock expiring with 30 seconds to go for a 78-74 lead.
Josh Duncan scored a career-high 26 points despite foul trouble to lead Xavier, which held an early 18-point lead.
Joe Alexander scored 18 and had 10 rebounds for the Mountaineers (26-11).
West Virginia missed four of six free throws in the overtime. Alexander missed one with 14.2 seconds left in regulation that would have given his team a 65-64 lead.
Xavier shot 11-for-19 on 3s while West Virginia was 1-for-11 from long range. The Mountaineers had only one worse performance on 3s this season, going 1-for-22 in a loss to Cincinnati.
Duncan was 3-of-4 on 3s, Lavender 3-of-6 and Raymond 2-of-4. Da'Sean Butler added 16 points, 14 in the second half. Alexander and Butler both fouled out in the overtime.
Xavier has been in a regional final only once, in 2004, and has never made it to the Final Four.
Despite the loss, Huggins has had quite the comeback with the school he played for. Out of work two years ago, he barely missed taking a team to the regional final for the fourth time.
Huggins got fired at Cincinnati - a school he led to the 1992 Final Four - after a drunken driving arrest and sat out a season before surfacing at Kansas State in 2007. He guided that team to the NIT, where it lost in the second round.
Huggins and his team seemed right among basketball's elite in reaching the round of 16.
Duncan drew his fourth foul with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. He came out briefly, then returned and was on the court almost the entire rest of the game. When it was over, he grabbed the ball and hurled it in to the wildly cheering Xavier booster section.
The Musketeers built a big lead at the start, but West Virginia scored the final five points of the half to cut it to 32-25 at the break, then pulled even midway through the second half.
The Mountaineers took their first lead of the game at 51-50 on Butler's 8-foot bank shot with 9:41 left.
There were six lead changes and four ties the remainder of regulation.
Duncan's three-point play with 1:56 left tied it at 62, and his two free throws with 1:28 to play in the second half put Xavier up 64-62.
Nobody could score again until Alexander's tough 15-foot bank shot with 14.2 seconds left tied it at 64. But he missed the free throw, and Lavender's 18-footer under pressure missed to send the game into overtime.
For a while, with the Mountaineers misfiring from everywhere, it looked like an Xavier blowout.
The Musketeers made six of their first eight 3-pointers and West Virginia missed its first eight shots.
Lavender made two 3s and assisted on another, and the Musketeers led 28-10, thanks largely to 3-for-16 shooting by the Mountaineers.
But Wellington Smith brought West Virginia back, scoring the first eight in a 10-0 run that cut it to 28-20 on Jamie Smalligan's unlikely, awkward 12-foot bank shot with 4:05 left in the half.
West Virginia shot 33 percent for the half and 0-for-6 on 3s. Xavier made 6-of-11 on 3s.
Alexander, averaging 16.8 points per game, had two at the half on 1-of-4 shooting.