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Atlantic 10 Notebook

March 3, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Ten Notebook

by David Francis

Xavier’s Wild Week

The Xavier Musketeers started out the week with a 10-game winning streak. They anticipated a tough game last Saturday against Dayton, but the rest of the week looked easy. Games at Duquesne and George Washington should have been cakewalks. There is little chance anyone on the Musketeer bench expected a week like this.

The week started off with one of Xavier’s biggest games of the season. The Musketeers traveled to Dayton, where the Flyers had not lost all season. Not only were they battling to keep their winning streak alive, but this game would decide first place in the Atlantic 10’s West Division just 2 weeks before the conference tournament.

Despite another strong effort by David West, who scored 27 points, Xavier found itself down by a point with time winding down. Held scoreless for almost 6 minutes, the Musketeers were looking whatever offense they could find. Unable to get the ball to West, Dedrick Finn misfired on a long three-pointer. 6-foot guard Lionel Chambers happened to be at the right place at the right time, and managed to tip in the rebound, giving Xavier a one-point lead. Dayton’s Ramod Marshall had a last chance with one second on the clock, but was forced to take a bad shot by West. Xavier escaped with a one-point victory and first place in the West Division.

Xavier could breathe easy. With games at Duquesne and George Washington, the bottom-feeders of the A 10, the rest of the week looked easy.

On Wednesday night, Xavier traveled to Pittsburgh to face the Dukes. Duquesne had nothing to lose; their season was hopeless, any chance of post-season play was non-existent, and it was Senior Night. A win over Xavier would be what Duquesne needed as they look ahead to next season, and a great way to send off the seniors.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. While the Dukes took Xavier to overtime, their inexperience shone though in the extra frame as they were unable to convert on numerous chances as time expired. Xavier escaped with an 80-78 victory.

It was a sloppy effort by the Musketeers. They played mediocre defense and shot the ball poorly. If it were not for a lay-up by Anthony Myles with .7 second left to play, Xavier would not have forced the extra period.

Xavier coach Thad Matta, after watching his team play so well against Dayton, was understandably disappointed. Following the game, the Associated Press quoted Matta as saying, “I knew this was going to be a tough place to play, this was a huge game for their seniors. We weren’t very good tonight.”

An understatement–the Musketeers played horribly. Fortunately their next game was at home, yesterday (Saturday, March 1) against George Washington.

As in their previous two contests, this game would go down to the last shot. With time running out, Anthony Myles missed an off-balanced jumper. David West tipped in the rebound, but the shot was initially disallowed as the officials claimed time had expired. However, after reviewing the play 6 times, the officials allowed the shot, giving Xavier a one-point victory, 71-70.

So Xavier’s wild week was over. Three games, three unforgettable finishes, a 13-game winning streak, and sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 West-not a bad week at all.

So a week away from the tournament, Xavier is in sole possession of first place in the West at 13-1, 22-4 overall. Dayton is only one game back. In the East, St. Joseph’s (11-3, 21-4 overall) has a comfortable lead over Temple.

But if this week proved anything, it’s that the worst in the conference can beat the best in the conference on any given night. If Duquesne and George Washington can play Xavier the way they did, who’s to say that a team like Temple or Rhode Island can’t do the same? Either way, after this week, I’m convinced the tournament (beginning March 10th) will be entertaining.


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