Xavier 79, W. Virginia 75

Musketeers shoot down W.Va. in OT

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Bob Baum
Associated Press / March 28, 2008

PHOENIX - In a span of 48 critical seconds late in overtime, B.J. Raymond made more 3-pointers than the entire West Virginia team did all night.

He went from "nonfactor" to nonplussed, calmly knocking down two long-range jumpers that lifted Xavier past coach Bob Huggins's Mountaineers, 79-75, last night in the West Regional semifinals.

Third-seeded Xavier (30-6) rallied from a 6-point deficit in overtime, and will seek its first Final Four appearance when it plays UCLA - an 88-78 winner over Western Kentucky - tomorrow.

Raymond, who scored all 8 of his points in overtime, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Musketeers ahead, 75-74, with 1:18 to play. He then shook loose on an inbound play, took a cross-court bounce pass from Stanley Burrell, and made a three with the shot clock expiring for a 78-74 lead with 30 seconds left.

"I was kind of a nonfactor for the first 40 minutes," Raymond said. "I knew when I got back in there, I had to make something happen."

The second trey was the dagger.

"It wasn't a great play that I drew up," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "It was a terrific pass by Stanley Burrell and an amazing shot off the bounce by B.J."

Huggins said his defense clogged up the intended play but "somebody fell asleep" to allow the wide-open three.

Josh Duncan scored a career-high 26 points despite foul trouble to lead Xavier.

Xavier, which led by 18 early in the game, rallied from a 71-65 deficit in overtime.

Joe Alexander scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (26-11) before fouling out in the overtime.

West Virginia missed four of six free throws in the overtime. Alexander missed one with 14.2 seconds left in regulation that would have given his team a 65-64 lead.

Xavier shot 11 for 19 on threes, while West Virginia was 1 for 11 from long range. The Mountaineers had only one worse performance on threes this season, going 1 for 22 in a loss to Cincinnati.

"I don't know what we are shooting on the year," Alexander said, "but it is definitely better than 10 percent. In a close game like that, if we would have shot even half of what we normally shoot, it would have made a big difference."

Going into the game, West Virginia had shot 35 percent from 3-point range.

Duncan was 3 of 4 on threes, Drew Lavender 3 of 6, and Raymond 2 of 4.

"I shot that shot probably 100,000 times in my life," Raymond said of his late threes. "It is easy once you've shot it so many times."

Da'Sean Butler added 16 points, 14 in the second half, for West Virginia. Butler also fouled out in the overtime.

Xavier has been in a regional final only once, in 2004.

Despite the loss, Huggins has had quite the comeback with the school he played for. Out of work two years ago, he barely missed taking a team to the regional final for the fourth time.

Huggins got fired at Cincinnati - a school he led to the 1992 Final Four - after a drunken driving arrest and sat out a season before surfacing at Kansas State in 2007. He guided that team to the NIT, where it lost in the second round.

Huggins and his team seemed right among basketball's elite in reaching the Round of 16.

"The reality is we played pretty well," he said. "We just didn't finish it."

Duncan drew his fourth foul with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. He came out briefly, then returned and was on the court almost the entire rest of the game. When it was over, he grabbed the ball and hurled it in to the wildly cheering Xavier booster section.

"We had been in so many tough situations throughout the year," Duncan said. "Instead of easily giving up or panicking, we stayed poised, stayed together."

The Musketeers built a big lead at the start, but West Virginia scored the final 5 points of the half to cut it to 32-25.

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