ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Some final thoughts as No. 2 Xavier beat No. 7 Dayton in quarterfinal play in the A-10 tourney here at Boardwalk Hall. Up next for the Musketeers is a semifinal matchup on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET against the winner of the Richmond-UMass quarterfinal.
That perceptible thud you heard was Dayton’s season crashing to earth. The Flyers blew a 15-point second-half lead to their in-state rivals and Xavier walked away with a five-point win and berth in Saturday’s semifinals. Dayton heads back to Ohio and waits for a call from the NIT committee.
The Musketeers may have won the game on their own but the wild finish and result were due in part to an unfortunate incident in the final minute of the game. With Xavier leading 70-68, Dayton senior guard Rob Lowery brought the ball across halfcourt and the Flyers called timeout with 33.6 seconds remaining. On his way to the bench Lowery got tangled with Terrell Holloway and Lowery eventually pushed/punched Holloway. The result, after much discussion by the officiating crew and the two head coaches, was a technical foul on Lowery. Holloway buried the two free throws and the Musketeers found the finish line with relative ease.
What a brutal way for a team’s NCAA hopes to go up in flames. And what a brutal way for a senior -- Lowery finished with 14 points, four assists and four steals -- to effectively end the meaningful part of his career. Finally, given the physical nature of the entire game (54 total fouls), it was a very questionable technical foul call -- especially given how long the officials discussed the play before making a final determination.
Dayton shot 54 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 40-35 lead. In the second half that changed for the worse and a 10-for-28 performance from the floor helped seal their ultimate demise.
Xavier won the game in part because of its performance at the free-throw line. The Musketeers were 12-of-14 in the first half and 21-of-27 in the second for an 80 percent rate for the game. XU also dominated the glass with a 39-28 rebound advantage.