- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Quick thoughts from 10th-seeded Xavier's 67-63 victory over No. 7 seed Notre Dame:
Overview: The Duke loss preceding this game will be talked about for quite a while. But so will the ending to this one.
Xavier guard Tu Holloway’s game-winning bank shot with 22 seconds left at Greensboro Coliseum -- followed by a lane-violation call on Notre Dame in the final seconds -- capped a down-to-the-wire, adrenaline-pumping affair.
It finished in odd fashion. With 2.8 seconds left and Xavier leading 65-63, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins went to the line for a 1-and-1 and a chance to tie it. But as he made the first, teammate Jerian Grant was called for a lane violation when he left his position behind the 3-point arc too early as he ran in for a rebound.
Mike Stuart, a member of the three-man officiating crew that worked the game, said in a prepared statement about the call: "The rule is that anyone outside the 3-point arc is under the same restrictions as the free throw shooter. They cannot penetrate the arc until the ball hits the rim, in which case No. 22 [Grant] was clearly way down in the lane before the ball ever hit. It's an obvious violation, by the rule."
(A similiar call was made at a key moment during top-seeded Syracuse's 72-65 victory over UNC Asheville during the second round of the East Regional on Thursday.)
The call gave the ball back to Xavier, and on the ensuing inbounds pass, Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton was whistled for an intentional foul when he grabbed Dezmine Wells' jersey. Wells hit both free throws to seal the victory.
Turning point: Notre Dame led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but with 7 minutes, 3 seconds left, Holloway capped a 13-3 Xavier run with a jumper to knot the score at 51-all. Counting that bucket, Holloway scored eight of his team’s next 10 points, taking back the lead, 59-58, with 3:23 left when he stole the ball and scored at the other end.
Key player: Holloway had another great game, finishing with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting.
Key stat: Notre Dame was 4-for-9 from the free throw line; Xavier was 18-for-27.
Miscellaneous: Xavier is one of only eight schools that have made at least seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. ... This marked the third straight trip to the tournament for the Irish.
What’s next: No. 10 seed Xavier will face 15th-seeded Lehigh -- which upset No. 2 seed Duke earlier Friday -- on Sunday for the right to advance to the South Region semifinals in Atlanta.