College Basketball Nation: Rob Lowery

Final: Richmond 89, Xavier 85 (OT)

March, 13, 2010
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Some final thoughts as No. 3 Richmond (26-7) beat No. 2 Xavier (24-8) in the second Atlantic-10 semifinal here at Boardwalk Hall. The Spiders advanced to face No. 1 Temple (28-5) in Sunday's conference title game at 1 p.m. ET.

  • No offense to Temple but I'd take a rematch of this game tomorrow afternoon. Great emotion. Great drama. Great theater.
  • Kevin Anderson's driving layup with 3.1 seconds left tied the game at 73 and sent it to overtime. Then the Spiders seized the momentum and advanced to Sunday's final. In the extra session Richmond was 4-of-5 from the floor -- including 2-of-2 from 3 -- and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Conversely Xavier went just 2-for-11 from the field in overtime.
  • Anderson, the A-10 player of the year, was money in OT. The junior scored eight of his game-high 27 points on 2-of-3 shooting -- including 4-for-4 from the line.
  • Richmond beat Temple 71-54 on Feb. 6 in Virginia. But the Owls didn't have Juan Fernandez in the lineup and there's no reason to believe Sunday's final won't be a wire job.
  • Xavier isn't the same team when sophomore guard Terrell Holloway isn't on the floor. When he was in foul trouble his absence was felt. Beyond his ability, it's his attitude and swagger that helps to define the Musketeers. Case in point: Richmond took a 56-55 lead with 8:46 left for the Spiders' first lead in the second half. Next possession Holloway buried a 3 to regain the lead for XU. And remember that Holloway is the one who went to knock the ball out of the hands of Dayton's Rob Lowery after a timeout on Friday night, producing the technical foul that effectively ended the Flyers' season.

Previewing the A-10 semifinals

March, 13, 2010
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- It’s another dreary, rainy and windswept day here in this gritty seaside city. In other words, a perfect excuse to hang out at Boardwalk Hall this afternoon to watch what should be two great games in the Atlantic-10 semifinals.

Three of the top four seeds advanced to the A-10’s final four, and in fact it’s the first time the top three seeds advanced this far since 2006. Temple, Xavier and Richmond are NCAA tourney locks and No. 5 Rhode Island woke up this morning as the last team in the field of 65 in Joe Lunardi’s Bubble Math.

No. 1 Temple (27-5) vs. No. 5 Rhode Island (23-8), 1 p.m. ET

What’s at stake: Temple is the only team still here in AC with a winning record (15-9) in the semifinal round. But the A-10 regular-season champion (Temple has the honor this season) hasn’t won the conference tourney title since George Washington in 2005. The Owls are the two-time defending champion in this tournament while the Rams won their only conference title way back in 1999.

Who has the edge: Temple is 2-0 against Rhody this year, including a tough four-point overtime win (68-64) in Kingston, R.I., on Jan. 10 and a 78-56 walk in Philly on Feb. 13. URI played its best defensive game of the season in beating Saint Louis on Friday but the Rams will have to come up with an even better effort against the well-rounded and versatile Owls. Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez present a challenging inside-outside attack to defend. And URI better be prepared to pound the glass like it did against SLU.

Statistically speaking: Temple has won seven consecutive A-10 tournament games and the Owls are now 7-1 all-time in conference tourney games played at Boardwalk Hall. The Owls also come in with a current eight-game winning streak.

-- The 63 points scored by Rhode Island on Friday were the fewest for the Rams in a win this season (they also scored 63 when beating Oklahoma St. 63-59 on Jan. 2). And the 47 points allowed by URI were the fewest for a Rams opponent this season (best the 57 allowed vs. Brown in the season-opening 78-57 win).

Quotable: “They are a very good top 20 team. Excellent players, great coach. They have excellent chemistry and its going to be an excellent challenge for us. We are looking forward to it. We have to be ready intense wise as the [Temple] crowd will be here. But, again, that is what you play for. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge.” -- Rhode Island coach Jim Baron

No. 2 Xavier (24-7) vs. No. 3 Richmond (25-7), 3:30 p.m. ET

What’s at stake: The bad news is that Xavier is just 3-6 in this round of A-10 play. The good news is that all three semifinal round wins eventually became conference tournament championships as the Musketeers are a perfect 3-0 in A-10 title games. Richmond has only played in one A-10 final (a 73-60 loss to XU in ’02) and is just 1-1 in the semifinal round.

Who has the edge: Xavier needed double overtime to beat Richmond (78-76) on Feb. 28 in Cincinnati. Here’s hoping the rematch is that good. The Musketeers had the tougher quarterfinal game as they erased a 15-point second-half deficit against Dayton on Friday night. When it counted, guard Terrell Holloway delivered, as he drew the decisive technical foul against Dayton’s Rob Lowery to effectively seal the XU win. Against Richmond last month, Holloway scored seven of his team high 24 points in the second OT.

Statistically speaking: Xavier has advanced to the A-10 semifinals for an eighth consecutive season and the Musketeers have won eight straight and 12 of their last 13 games.

-- Richmond is 4-0 on neutral courts this season and comes into Saturday’s game having won three straight and 11 of its last 12.

Quotable: “I think we are looking forward to the rematch because at the end of the regulation it was a dead heat and they were able to win the game in overtime. We’re looking forward to it. I know they’ll be ready. I know they’ll be prepared. I know they’re a great program. We’re just pleased to be able to advance and try to play Xavier again.” -- Richmond coach Chris Mooney

Final: Xavier 78, Dayton 73

March, 12, 2010
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.