Stanley Burrell Lifts Xavier Over Villanova, 71-66, Paradise Jam

Justin Cage's layup put Xavier up for good 67-66.  He blocked a shot on the next possession.

Justin Cage's layup put Xavier up for good 67-66. He blocked a shot on the next possession.

Nov. 19, 2006

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ST. THOMAS, V.I. - In another nerve-wracking finish, Stanley Burrell put Xavier on his shoulders and advanced the Musketeers to the Paradise Jam championship game with a 71-66 victory over Villanova Sunday night. Burrell scored a game-high 26 points and Justin Doellman grabbed eight rebounds to put the Musketeers (3-0) in a title game tilt with No. 10 Alabama Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Burrell hit two free throws to ice the victory with 0.9 seconds on the clock, but it wasn't until after a heart-pounding final five minutes. Doellman had a big steal and layup at 4:45 to put XU up 61-56. But the Musketeers were unable to extend their margin by more than five in the second half and an 8-0 run by Villanova (2-1) put the Wildcats back on top 64-61, thanks to five points from Mike Nardi and a three from Shane Clark in that stretch.

Xavier put the clamps on defensively and finally took a lead for good, 67-66, with a spectacular move through the lane which resulted in a layup for Justin Cage. Cage then blocked Curtis Sumpter's shot on the next possession and the Wildcats would not score again. Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch sealed the victory as XU made eight of 10 free throws in the final three minutes.

Josh Duncan was the only other Musketeer in double figures with 10 points to go along with four boards. Burrell's 26 points - the second-highest point total in his career - came on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range, made all four shots from the line, had two steals and two assists.

Derrick Brown continues to provide big minutes off the bench as he drilled all three shots from the field in 14 minutes. Doellman scored nine, with eight boards and three assists. Although Lavender was held to four points, he swiped three rebounds and had four assists against one turnover.

Clark and Sumpter scored 17 each to pace the Wildcats and Nardi added 10. The Musketeers held Nardi to just 3-of-10 shooting from the field and limited to Sumpter to one three pointer in five tries.

It was a sloppy start as the Musketeers came out aggressive and got tagged with the first four fouls of the game. Following the first media timeout that saw the game knotted at 7, Will Sheridan knocked down a jumper and a three by Mike Nardi opened a five-point gap for the Wildcats at 12-7. But a steal by B.J. Raymond led to a Derrick Brown dunk in transition that made it 12-9. Another Brown dunk off a feed from Brandon Cole at the high post pulled the Musketeers to with two at 18-16.

But the Wildcats answered quickly and opened a lead - as large as seven with 6:21 left in the first - thanks to a 7-2 run with points from Scottie Reynolds, Nardi and Clark.

Xavier put itself right back in the ball game, though, riding the hot hand of Burrell. Burrell hit jumpers on back-to-back possessions, then Doellman dug out a rebound in the corner and dished off to Josh Duncan, who drilled a big three to even the game at 25 with 3:19 left - the game's first tie since the 16-minute mark.

Then Adrion Graves buried a three from the top of the key, giving XU its first lead since the opening minutes of the game, 28-25. The Musketeers would take a 30-28 lead into the break. Burrell had 12 before halftime on five-of-10 shooting from the field.