Men's Basketball

No. 23 Xavier Pulls Away From UMass, 77-65

Etienne Brower

Etienne Brower

Jan. 27, 2008

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AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - Drew Lavender had 19 points to lead four players in double figures, and No. 23 Xavier defeated Massachusetts 77-65 Sunday to move atop the Atlantic 10.

The four double-figure scorers was a bit off the pace, though. The Musketeers came into the game with six players averaging more than 10 points per game - but they still seemed pleased with the results.

"We're a very unselfish team," said Lavender, the team's point guard. "We like sharing the ball. When anyone has a lane, we take it."

Derrick Brown added 14 points for the Musketeers (17-4, 5-1), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. C.J. Anderson had 13 points and Josh Duncan 10.

"As a coach you can't say, 'You shoot and you don't,"' Sean Miller said. "It just happens. There's that old adage: 'You win as a team and lose as a team.' They take pride in that."

Etienne Brower led the Minutemen (13-6, 2-3) with 22 points. UMass shot just 37 percent in the game after a cold start.

The Minutemen's leading scorer, Ricky Harris, who entered averaging 20.7 per game, was held to seven. Gary Forbes, the second-leading scorer at 20.5, had 16 on 5-for-15 shooting.

"They have a lot of weapons and a lot of talent around a terrific point guard that does a great job of carrying his team," UMass coach Travis Ford said. "They've got a lot of weapons - a lot of weapons. We've got a couple, but they've got a lot."

After shooting just 37 percent in the opening half, the Musketeers picked up the pace early in the second, turning their transition game into easy shots and building a 12-point halftime advantage into a 54-38 lead with 13:12 to play.

Xavier hit seven of its first 11 shots from the floor in the second half. All the Musketeers' baskets after the break either came on transition layups or short jumpers in the lane, until Lavender hit a 3 in the final seconds.

"That's the thing about playing us," Xavier guard Stanley Burrell said. "We've got so many options."

UMass held Xavier without a field goal for more than 7 minutes, but could only slice a 16-point deficit to 10 as the Musketeers hit six of eight free throws.

The Minutemen got within 63-56 on Chris Lowe's drive, but Lavender cut through the press and went the length of the floor for a layup. He was fouled on the next possession, hitting one free throw to make it 66-57 with 4 minutes left.

The Minutemen closed to 68-63 on a basket by Harris with 1:58 to play, but Duncan, B.J. Raymond and Brown made layups as the Musketeers pulled away in the final 1 1/2 minutes.

Neither team had more than a two-point lead in a cold-shooting start before the Musketeers went on a 9-0 run midway into the half. Lavender and Raymond keyed the spree with 3-pointers that came 1:31 apart and pushed the score to 21-10.

The Minutemen missed 19 of their first 24 shots from the floor, and the Musketeers were only 3-for-15 on 3-point attempts.

Xavier increased its lead to 34-20 when Raymond drained a 3 from the top late in the half, but Lowe hit a 3 that rolled in as the horn sounded.




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