Men's Basketball

UMass Nearly Knocks Off No. 10 Xavier

Tony Gaffney attempts a layup during the first half Of Massachusett's 82-80 loss to Xavier.

Tony Gaffney attempts a layup during the first half Of Massachusett's 82-80 loss to Xavier.

Jan. 31, 2009

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- Massachusetts set a pedal-to-the-metal pace on offense and kept it a game by forcing Xavier into a season-high 23 turnovers, but couldn't break through in the closing minutes. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with 17 points as four players scored in double-figures. Chris Lowe netted 16 points, missing a free throw on purpose with 3.6 seconds, but Tony Gaffney (9 points, 12 rebounds) missed a tip at the end which rimmed out. Xavier is now 19-2 overall, 7-0 in the A-10.

Derrick Brown matched his career high with 23 points Saturday, and No. 10 Xavier used its balance and free-throw shooting to hold on for its 10th straight win.

B.J. Raymond added 22 points and C.J. Anderson had 19 for the Musketeers (19-2, 7-0), who remained unbeaten atop the Atlantic 10. This one was in doubt down to the final rebound. Anderson got that off Chris Lowe's purposely missed free throw with 3 seconds left.

The shot clock rarely came into play in a fast-paced game of catch the ball and shoot -- a pace that suits UMass but not the Musketeers. Brown, Raymond and Anderson were a combined 24-for-32 from the field, and made the biggest plays in the closing minutes.

The Minutemen stayed in the game by exploiting Xavier's biggest weakness -- a propensity for sloppy passes. UMass scored three straight baskets off turnovers early in the second half. Harris had a driving layup and a 3-pointer, and Lowe had a steal and layup that tied it at 58 with 11 minutes left.

There were three ties and six lead changes down the stretch, with neither team ahead by more than three points until the final minute. Raymond's 3 and Anderson's putback put Xavier ahead to stay, 78-74 with 53 seconds left.

Harris responded with a 3-pointer, then missed another one with 10 seconds to go. Raymond got the rebound and made both free throws for an 80-77 lead. Brown added two free throws.

Rather than let Lowe try to take a 3-pointer that would tie it, Xavier fouled him with 3 seconds left. He made the first and, after a timeout, missed the second, hoping UMass could get a tying putback. The ball was slapped around and Anderson came down with it.

The points piled up fast in the first half. UMass hit nine of its first 13 shots, while Xavier went 9-of-14. It didn't take either team long to find an open shot and make it.

Xavier's player with the can't-miss touch temporarily took over the game.

Brown had a game this season when he didn't miss, going 6-for-6 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in a win over Saint Louis on Jan. 8. He made his first eight shots on Saturday, including a 3-pointer that started Xavier's nine-point run in the first half.

His three-point play off a driving dunk made it 41-31 with 2:52 left in the half, the biggest lead of the game. Xavier shot 68 percent in the first half against one of the conference's worst perimeter defenses.




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