Men's Basketball Falls In A-10 Quarterfinals
Colonials come up short against against No. 10 Xavier, 78-73
March 13, 2003
By JOE KAY
CINCINNATI - No replay needed for this one. David West put it away long before the final fraction of a second.
West scored 27 points and No. 10 Xavier set a school record with its 16th straight win Thursday, beating George Washington 78-73 in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals.
West, the conference's only three-time player of the year, controlled the game from the inside out as Xavier (25-4) beat the team that came closest to ending its streak. The 6-foot-9 forward also had 13 rebounds and a team-high four assists.
"We did a terrific job on all of their guys except West," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "We couldn't contain him. That's what your best player is supposed to do. At times, it looked like he was an NBA player playing against some high school guys."
George Washington (12-17) has dropped five in a row against Xavier, including a 71-70 loss that provided the most dramatic finish in the A10 this season.
West's tip barely beat the final buzzer on March 1 in Cincinnati, but was initially waved off by the closest official, sending the Colonials onto the floor in celebration. After watching replays for several minutes, referee Ken Clark reversed the call and counted the basket. Clark also worked the rematch Thursday, which featured another late run by the Colonials.
"We knew they kind of felt they got robbed at our joint," said West, who was 8-of-10 from the field and 11-of-14 from the line. "Our focus was to maintain our dominance, and we did that."
Xavier opened its lead to 14 early in the second half, but the Colonials went on a nine-point run that cut it to 57-54 with seven minutes left. West went inside for a three-point play that stopped the comeback.
"I got the ball in pretty decent position," West said. "I was getting it closer to the basket today than I normally would. It was a chance to get some pretty good looks."
Romain Sato added 20 for Xavier, which overcame 2-of-18 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. Chris Monroe scored 22 for George Washington, which has 18 turnovers and shot 39 percent from the field.
Xavier feels comfortable at UD Arena, where it gave the Flyers their only home-court loss this season. Numerous Dayton fans wore their red "Beat Xavier" T-shirts, left over from their regular-season game on Feb. 22.
Those Flyers fans were on their feet and cheering at the outset. T.J. Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Xavier missed its first four shots as the Colonials pulled ahead 9-2.
George Washington was determined not to let West get the ball near the basket, a strategy that left Sato open on the perimeter. Sato, playing in the city where he was a high school star, missed five of his first six shots, then relaxed and left the Colonials' strategy in shambles.
Sato had a pull-up jumper during an eight-point run that put Xavier ahead 30-23. He also had a nice last-second pass to Lionel Chalmers for a fastbreak layup during the spurt.
Sato also helped to control Monroe, George Washington's career scoring leader. Monroe wasn't a factor as Xavier went ahead to stay in the first half, missing all four of his 3-point attempts against the Musketeers' tight man-to-man defense.
Monroe finished his career with 2,249 points, third on the conference's career list. He dropped his head as the closing seconds ran off in his final game.
"It was real hard," said Monroe, who talked to West after the game. "You're looking at the score and hoping a miracle is going to come your way."
Sato had 16 points in the first half on 5-of-10 shooting, helping Xavier take a 39-31 lead into halftime. Asserting himself inside, West passed for a couple of easy baskets by Anthony Myles, then made a three-point play and a pair of free throws as Xavier built the lead to 54-40, then held on.
Xavier has won the conference's last two regular-season titles and is the defending tournament champion.