Colonials Lose Heartbreaker To No. 13 Xavier
March 1, 2003
By JOE KAY
CINCINNATI - A fraction of a second and a good replay angle kept Xavier's winning streak intact.
David West tipped in a shot at the buzzer, and the officials watched the replay for several minutes before counting the basket and giving the 13th-ranked Musketeers a 71-70 victory over George Washington on Saturday.
Xavier (22-4, 13-1 Atlantic 10) blew a 10-point lead and appeared to have lost when one of the officials waved off the basket.
The Colonials (10-16, 4-11) sprinted onto the court, jumped into each others' arms and waved towels in jubilation while the three-man officiating crew huddled, then headed for the scorer's table to look at the replay.
"The official on the baseline waved it off, and I was like, 'Hey, it's too close,"' said West, who had 23 points. "I knew the ball left my hand and was in the air when the buzzer went off."
While Xavier coach Thad Matta strained to see over the officials' shoulders, the Colonials sat on the floor with blank expressions and Xavier players huddled by their bench.
After watching the replay about a half-dozen times, referee Ken Clark turned toward the court, blew his whistle and emphatically gave the "basket good" signal with his right arm, extending the second-longest winning streak in school history.
"Thank goodness for television," said Matta, who was an assistant at Butler when the Bulldogs lost to Florida on a replayed final shot in the 2000 NCAA tournament. "I thought it was good, and when I saw it on TV, I knew it was good. I've been on the other side of it."
The Colonials flopped on the floor and covered their faces in disbelief.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd just called the shot good right off the bat," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. "The thing that was emotional was that for about five minutes, we had won the basketball game."
It was Xavier's second win in a row set up by a last-second tip-in. Myles' tip sent the game to overtime and set up an 80-78 win at Duquesne on Wednesday.
"We're not really winning now," West said. "We're just surviving."
West also had 11 rebounds and moved into second place on Xavier's career scoring list with 2,017 points. Romain Sato added 20 points.
Chris Monroe scored only one point in the first half, missing all five of his shots from the field, but hit a short jumper with 10 seconds left that put George Washington ahead 70-69.
After a Xavier timeout to set up the final play, the Musketeers passed the ball on the baseline to West, who was double-teamed and tried to pass outside but got the ball knocked loose.
Lionel Chalmers got it at the free throw line and shot, and West slid under the basket to go for the tip.
Monroe and T.J. Thompson each finished with 16 points for George Washington.
Xavier's winning streak is its longest since a school-record 15 in a row under coach Pete Gillen in 1987-88.
George Washington completed its comeback from a 10-point deficit when Tamal Forchion scored inside for a 68-67 lead with 1:17 to go, the Colonials' first lead of the second half. After Keith Jackson hit an 18-foot jumper to put Xavier ahead again, Monroe made his pull-up jumper for a 70-69 lead.
Both teams struggled through a ragged game, repeatedly missing open shots and throwing the ball away. There were six ties and 13 lead changes - a measure of their inability to sustain anything.
In two telling moments, Chalmers went up to take a 3-pointer and had the ball slip out of his sweaty hands and fly backward over the press table. A few minutes later, Xavier's Dedrick Finn missed a layup on a 3-on-1 breakaway.