Scores

Final

G. Washington 56

(9-15, 5-9 A 10)

(9) Xavier 66

(25-4, 13-1 A 10)

7:00 PM ET, March 1, 2008

Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

1 2 T
GW 28 2856
#9XAV 36 3066

Top Performers

George Washington: R. Diggs 19 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Xavier: J. Love 12 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Xavier wastes 18-point lead but hangs on for school-best 25th regular-season win

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The free throws weren't falling. The 18-point lead was gone. The home crowd was hushed.

On one of its worst nights, Xavier (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) still managed to pull one out, showing the crunch-time poise that has already made the Musketeers champions. Xavier blew an 18-point lead before rallying for its 11th straight victory Saturday night, 66-56 over George Washington.

Xavier (25-4, 13-1) struggled in its first game since clinching the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, but kept the winning streak going by doing everything right in the closing minutes -- one of the Musketeers' trademarks this season.

"I didn't think it was going to be like this," said guard Stanley Burrell, who had a decisive putback with 57 seconds left. "But like I always say, we find a way at the end. As a team, we find a way."

Jason Love had 12 point and 10 rebounds for Xavier, and C.J. Anderson hit most of the important baskets in the second half while piling up a team-high 15 points.

"Just in the right place at the right time," Love said. "They were playing really hard and I had to match that, get as many defensive rebounds as I could."

Xavier leads the conference in free-throw shooting, but went 16-of-29 from the line. The Musketeers also got outrebounded 30-29, leading Burrell to conclude that some of them went a little soft in their first game as A10 champs.

"We're not done yet," Burrell said. "There's a lot left. We've got a lot of goals we still haven't reached."

Xavier can spend the next week focusing on records, rankings and its NCAA Tournament seeding, which won't take a hit despite its off-night.

"As a team, that was probably our worst performance in almost a year and a half," coach Sean Miller said.

With their 25th victory, the Musketeers set a school record for regular-season wins. Their record for totals wins was set in 1989-90, when they went 28-5 and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

George Washington (9-15, 5-9) brought in a three-game winning streak -- its best of the season -- and overcame an early 18-point deficit, but faded down the stretch. Rob Diggs scored 19 points, and sophomore point guard Johnny Lee had a career-high 14.

Xavier's top goal leading up to the conference tournament is to get point guard Drew Lavender healthy. Lavender has been severely hampered by a sprained left ankle in the last five games, costing him his quickness and his shooting touch.

Xavier had five days off between games, giving their senior playmaker a chance to get the ankle a little better. He had a little more pep in his step on Saturday, but was bothered by a respiratory illness and played only 16 minutes, missing his one shot.

"He's really struggling as a player -- being able to guard the ball, to push the ball, to be effective," Miller said. "I really wanted to make sure I'm putting our team in the best position to win."

Xavier opened with a 19-4 run that featured baskets by six players. George Washington coach Karl Hobbs was so bothered by his team's uptight play that he called a 30-second timeout.

"I told them just to settle down," Hobbs said. "I told them that the worst thing that can happen is that you lose a basketball game. When you get back to the locker room, there's not going to be a firing squad, so just relax and play."

The Colonials came out of the timeout and turned the ball over on a shot clock violation, prompting Hobbs to turn his back and wave his arms in disgust.

The lead nearly reached 20 before the Colonials dug in and made a late run. Wynton Witherspoon's putback at the buzzer cut it to 36-28 at halftime.

Diggs made an alley-oop dunk and a 3-pointer that cut it to 38-36 early in the second half. Xavier missed six of its first seven foul shots in the second half, allowing George Washington to keep it close.

Xavier Alexander's layup tied it at 49 with 6:21 to go, but the Colonials faded the rest of the way, going 2-of-10 from the field with three turnovers. Anderson's lay-in put Xavier ahead to stay, and Burrell's putback with 57 seconds left closed it out.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
GW
XAV
Points 56 66
FG Made-Attempted 20-50 (.400) 22-40 (.550)
3P Made-Attempted 6-18 (.333) 6-18 (.333)
FT Made-Attempted 10-19 (.526) 16-29 (.552)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 18

2007-08 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
Jan 19, 2008 XAV 74, @GW 66Recap
» Mar 1, 2008 @XAV 66, GW 56Recap