ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- With top-seeded Xavier playing its best basketball, Dayton paid the price for two five-minutes lapses in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on Thursday.
Senior Justin Doellman had 19 points to lead five players in double figures and the top-seeded and defending champion Musketeers won its ninth straight game by using runs at the end of the first half and start of the second in a 72-51 victory over their Ohio rivals."Our defense set the tone," Doellman said. "It allowed us to get some easy transition buckets and that kind of helped us jump off the trampoline on offense, I guess."Xavier coach Sean Miller gave much of the credit for his team's late-season run to experience and Drew Lavender. The tiny junior point guard had 13 points and nine assists in helping the Musketeers (24-7) match their longest winning streak since 2004, the year Xavier went to the final eight in the NCAA tournament."At this time of the year, you are led by your oldest players," said Miller, whose seniors have now appeared in 16 postseason games. "We are no different than any team with that. We have our seniors leading and playing well and the combination of that and Lavender, the way he has played at the point, has really allowed us to play at a high level for some time."Stanley Burrell added 16 points, Justin Cage had 14 and Josh Duncan 10 points as Xavier beat eighth-seeded Dayton (19-12) for the third time this season.Xavier will play fourth-seeded Rhode Island (18-13) in a semifinal on Friday at Boardwalk Hall. The Rams beat fifth-seeded Fordham 73-69 in the second quarterfinal.Brian Roberts scored 15 of his 22 points in the first half in keeping the Flyers in the game. Charles Little, the conference's sixth man of the year, tallied all 11 of his points in the second half after the outcome was decided.Dayton played the game short-handed. It lost starting forward Monty Scott late in the season with a knee injury. Backup guard Marcus Johnson sprained an ankle in the opening-round win over Charlotte and did not play. The offense also fell apart when point guard London Warren picked up three first-half fouls."We knew we had to play a very good game with the adversity we have been facing the past month or so," Roberts said. "We knew with the type of team they had and how good they are, we had a play a real good game with no lulls, and we had some minors lulls in the game."The Flyers started well, building a 19-12 lead midway through the first half.However, Lavender got his team going with a reverse layup and Burrell followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession.Warren picked up his third foul with 7:26 left in the half and Xavier went on a 13-3 spurt, getting five points from Cage and three apiece by Doellman and Lavender."That was a big factor for us," Little said of Warren's fouls. "He quickens the pace for us. When he is not in there it hurts us a little bit."The Musketeers, who led 33-27 at the halftime, broke the game open early in the second half with a 19-7 spurt that featured five points apiece from Burrell and Duncan.Dayton cut the lead to 10 points, but Doellman, who also had eight rebounds, scored five points to help put the game away.Dayton coach Brian Gregory hopes the Flyers will get a NIT bid."One game doesn't wipe away what we have done and the progress we have made," Gregory said. "We're just hoping to be able to continue."