C.J. Anderson, Derrick Brown, and B.J. Raymond combined for 64 points as the Xavier Musketeers endured a pesky UMass Minutemen squad for an 82-80 victory Saturday at the Cintas Center.
Brown’s free throws with six seconds remaining gave the Musketeers an 82-79 lead, and the Musketeers improved to 7-0 in the Atlantic 10 and 19-2 overall.
Brown led all scorers with 23, including three from behind the arc. The 6’8” junior forward continues to show his versatility, hitting 8-10 shots, and missing none of the three taken from long range.
UMass (7-12) proved themselves more than worthy of hanging with the first-place Muskies as the game was not decided until the final seconds.
Following Brown’s free throw, XU guard Dante Jackson fouled Chris Lowe in the backcourt before the senior had a chance to tie the score. After making his first free throw attempt, Lowe deliberately missed the second, which was rebounded by teammate Tony Gaffney. The senior forward missed a put back, and Anderson clutched the rebound as time expired.
Anderson finished the game with 19 points and 6 rebounds.
Despite shooting over 70 percent from the field in the first half, Xavier only led 44-37 and could not rid themselves of the Minutemen.
During their recent 10-game winning streak, the X-Men have been holding opponents to under 40 percent from the field. But the Minutemen forced a season-high 23 turnovers, many of which were converted into layups at the other end.
Poor ball-handling was only half of the problem for Sean Miller’s club. UMass employed a dribble-drive offense that caused problems for the usually stingy Musketeer defense. Lowe regularly got past his man and into the paint, where Xavier defenders looked sluggish rotating into help defense.
It was Raymond, though, who came through when the Musketeers need him most. The senior guard scored 10 of his 22 points in the game’s final 8:00.
Intent on letting the game come to him, Raymond patiently picked his spots. When the UMass defense began denying Brown the ball, Raymond stepped up and nailed a pair of clutch three pointers—one to tie the game at 67, and the second to give XU the lead for good at 76-74. The glue of the Xavier team also grabbed a pair of rebounds in the final minutes.
UMass continues conference play Wednesday when they host Richmond. Xavier hosts Temple on Thursday.