Xavier Edges Fordham, 70-59, to Advance to A-10 Finals
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CINCINNATI - Sophomore Josh Duncan scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the 10th-seeded Xavier Musketeers to a 70-59 win over the seventh-seeded Fordham Rams in the 2006 Atlantic 10 Conference Semifinals on Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 8,733 at U.S. Bank Arena. Xavier, 20-10, advances to the A-10 Championship Game for the fourth time in school history which will pit the Musketeers against the No. 5 seed Saint Joseph's.
With Xavier holding a 54-49 lead with 5:48 to go in the game, Duncan corralled a loose ball and drove to the lane where he converted on a jumper to put the Musketeers up by seven points at 56-49. Duncan's made jumper sparked a 13-5 run over the next 4:35, which gave XU its largest lead of the game at 67-54. The Musketeers converted on 3-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to push the point total to 70.
After Xavier opened the second half with a basket on the first offensive possession, Fordham scored the next six points and tied the game up at 39-all on a field goal from Bryant Dunston at the 17:46 mark. That would be as close as Fordham would get as the Musketeers regained the lead at 17:29 off of an old-fashioned 3-point play from Justin Cage.
Fordham and Xavier opened the game by exchanging a pair of baskets before the Musketeers went on an 11-2 run over a span of 4:22 to take its largest lead of the half at 15-6 with 12:53 to go in the first stanza. The Musketeers limited Fordham to 4-of-15 from the field over the first 8:12, but the Rams went 9-of-17 the rest of the way and even grabbed the lead twice including a 27-26 advantage at 3:51.
Xavier went on to score 11 of the next 17 points including a jumper from Stanley Burrell with time winding down as the sophomore drove the length of the floor and connected from 12 feet to give the Musketeers a 37-33 lead heading into the locker rooms.
Duncan's 20 points came on 6-of-9 from the field to lead three Xavier players in double-figures. Cage added 13 points on 5-of-8 from the floor while also hauling in five rebounds. Junior Justin Doellman chipped in 12 points and recorded four assists on the night.
The Musketeers were 24-of-50 (.480) from the floor for the game while going 19-of-24 (.792) from the charity stripe. Xavier won the battle of the boards as the Musketeers posted a 35-to-31 edge including a 26-to-18 advantage on the defensive glass. XU committed a season-low seven turnovers in the win.
Dunston led Fordham with 16 points and nine rebounds while Marcus Stout added 12 points and Jermaine Anderson chipped in with 11 points and seven assists. Fordham was 20-of-57 (.351) from the field and the Rams were 7-of-25 (.280) from beyond the arc.
Saturday's finale against Saint Joseph's will tip-off at 6:00 p.m. from U.S. Bank Arena and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Musketeers will be looking to improve to 4-0 all-time in A-10 Championship games.