Xavier Turns Up the Defense to Turn Back Saint Louis, 76-57
Feb. 7, 2007
CINCINNATI - Hot three-point shooting and big runs to start both halves helped the Xavier men's basketball team bury visiting Saint Louis, 76-57, Wednesday evening at Cintas Center in Cincinnati. Justin Doellman tied his career high with 24 points as the Musketeers (17-7, 7-3) pulled to within a half-game of the Atlantic 10 lead heading into Saturday's match-up at George Washington.
After the Billikens (15-9, 5-5) had cut the Xavier lead to just four at the break, the Musketeers embarked on 21-8 run to start the second half and blow the game wide open. Stanley Burrell, who finished with 19 points, had eight in the stretch. Xavier would widen its advantage to 18 at 58-40 midway through the half as Doellman blocked a shot at one end and Burrell buried a three at the other.
Brandon Cole, who continues to come up big after being forced into the starting line-up due to XU injuries, converted an old-fashioned three-point play at the 4:06 mark of the second half. That play put Xavier up 70-52, giving XU the cushion it would need to finish out the team's first victory over SLU since becoming A-10 rivals (four games). Cole finished with five points and swiped a game-high six rebounds.
Defensively, Xavier bottled up Tommie Liddell -- who was averaging 16.5 points for the season and 21.7 in A-10 games -- and held him to just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field. Kevin Lisch scored 14 to lead SLU. Ian Vouyoukas was limited to just eight points and two boards.
Eight different Musketeers scored in the contest, including eight from Justin Cage, six from Drew Lavender and five each from Cole, B.J. Raymond and Johnny Wolf. Xavier's 31 rebounds came from nine different players.
Xavier shot 50 percent from the field for the game (23-of-46) and drained half of its three-point tries (9-of-18). Doellman was perfect on his three attempts from downtown and Burrell poured in three on seven tries.
For Doellman, there seemed to be no problems with his sprained ankle. The senior drained his first two three-point attempts and Cage added the opening trey of the game as the Musketeers stormed out to a 9-2 advantage before the first media timeout, helping electrify the crowd of 9,735. Xavier extended that run to 15-2, thanks in part to another shot from behind the arc by Raymond. XU was 6-of-11 from downtown in the first half.
The Billikens would dig themselves out of the early deficit and out-score the Musketeers 26-17 the remainder of the half. Dwayne Polk scored all eight of his points in the first frame and Lisch added six more on a pair of three-pointers.
The teams combined to shoot 59 percent (10-of-17) from long range in the first half and the Musketeers took a 32-28 lead into the break.
The Musketeers return to action Saturday evening with a pivotal conference game at George Washington. XU sits a half-game up on GW, which was idle Wednesday night. The game tips at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, part of ESPN's Rivarly Week.