If told you that Xavier allowed 14 second chance points, took eleven minutes to score ten points, and shot of 8-13 from the line, what would you think the result of the game was? What if I told you that Brad Redford missed 10 shots, Dee Davis never played, and Justin Martin's shooting line was 3-9/1-6/0-0? These are not the kind of numbers that one generally associates with a win. Yet, somehow, Xavier walked out of the Reilly Center 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 with maybe just a touch of that old swagger coming back.
Early signs from this game were actually quite encouraging. Riding the momentum of two straight wins, Xavier came into Olean and quickly established themselves as the superior team. Travis Taylor scored on the opening possession, Jeff Robinson (4/2/0) knocked down a jumper, Brad Redford (17/2/0) hit a three, and the game rolled into its second quarter with Xavier already holding a seemingly comfortable six point lead. As the game settled in, Senaglese born Youssou Ndoye started to have an impact on both ends for the Bonnies. Ndoye scored nine of his 16 in the first half and kept Travis Taylor from completely taking over the game. Taylor was effective all night, finishing with 11/7/0, but never really got into a rhythm down low.
A Jeff Robinson dunk, and a rather authoritative one at that, made the lead 31-23 with 2:38 to play in the first half. As well as things were going for Xavier to that point, the eight point lead was the high water mark of the game. Robinson never scored again and the now infamous scoring drought was on. The Musketeers didn't score again in the first half and led 31-27 going in to the break. After the half, Xavier took another nine minutes and change to score their next 11 points. By that point Demetrius Conger had tied the game with a thunderous dunk as the blue clad seas parted from in front of him.
Justin Martin (7/3/2) put Xavier back in front 42-40 and the game was on from there. In the last 11 minutes there were six lead changes and a tie as the two teams went back and forth. First Conger buried a three to push St. Bonaventure back ahead, Erik Stenger (2/2/0) answered with a dunk, but Youssou Ndoye came right back with four straight. Xavier pushed out to a four point lead after that before a 8-0 run by Eric Mosley put the Bonnies up four with five minutes to play. Now, the Xavier offense had to deliver or all the positive energy the team had built up against Temple and George Washington would be flushed away.
With the game now hanging in the balance, the Musketeers turned to their mercurial freshman point guard. Semaj Christon (19/2/10) spent most of the game with the ball in his hands, trying to fill in for Dee Davis. Late in the game, Brad Redford took over primary ballhandling duties and Christon found ways to get open where he could do damage. From that five minute mark, Christon scored eight of Xavier's final 14 points. Travis Taylor's nonstop energy paid off when he collected an offensive rebound and scored with three minutes to play to draw Xavier back within one. Down 61-60, Xavier headed down on offense with two minutes to play. A Chris Mack timeout set up a play for Xavier's best shooter to try to make something happen.
Brad Redford had been on fire to that point, hitting five of the nine three pointers he had put up. However, the screen set for him didn't give him the space he needed to collect himself and his tenth attempt fell short. Isaiah Philmore (6/5/0) grabbed the offensive board and found Redford in space again. The sharpshooter responded by missing again but Philmore again corralled the offensive rebound, one of Xavier's 12, and stuck it back himself. Now leading 62-61, Xavier couldn't get the stop they needed and again surrendered the lead. Ndoye and Christon traded free throws (Christon was 7-9 from the line) and Semaj's two makes to Ndoye's one made the game 64-64 with Xavier holding the ball with 24 seconds left.
That set up Semaj Christon's first chance for a conference game winner, and it set up one of the best plays Chris Mack has ever called. Christon dribbled the ball off the top of the key until ten seconds remained, then he put the ball in his right hand and began a move that way. Travis Taylor, at the free throw line, bluffed a step forward for the screen and then hesitated. Semaj also hesitated, looked Taylor's way and gestured frantically for the screen. Christon's man, no doubt perturbed also by Coach Mack's yelling from the bench, glanced over his shoulder to check on the arrival of Taylor. The instant his man twisted his head, Christon blew past him into the lane, where he finished through contact. Taylor never moved from the line and instead rolled in to follow the play. Christon missed the and one, but that only gave Landen Amos the chance to seal another game with an emphatic block. Just like that, the Musketeers were 3-0 in conference.
-How effective can Brad Redford be in extended minutes? Very. Redford still struggles on defense but he has grown into his new role of bringing the ball up the floor on occasion. Brad played 36 minutes and turned the ball over exactly no times. Adding 17 points to that doesn't hurt your chances of getting playing time.
-Can Xavier hold a road lead? Still no. Once again, the massive scoring drought erased a comfortable cushion and put Xavier up against the ropes. Far from holding the lead, Xavier had to come back to win.
-Will Jeff Robinson show up? Not really. The Enigmatic One was once again mostly peripheral. When Xavier made its run to win the game, Jeff was playing cheerleader. 4/2/0 from a multi-talented 6'10" guy. Unreal.
Tweet of the game:
Oh, how JRob of him. RT @bannersparkway: JRob misses a dunk. Goshdangit, JRob.— Brandon Kraeling (@themusketeer) January 17, 2013
Next Game: vs. La Salle, Saturday @2