ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - No. 24 Xavier is going to the
semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, thanks to a
great comeback and a silly slap by Dayton senior guard Rob Lowery.
Terrell Holloway hit a go-ahead three-point play with 1:22 to
play and second-seeded Xavier rallied from a 15-point deficit in
the final 10 minutes to defeat Dayton 78-73 on Friday night in a
game marred by a late technical foul against Lowery.
"We let it slip away so it's hard to take," Dayton coach Brian
Gregory said after Flyers (20-12) saw their hopes for an at-large
bid to the NCAA tournament all but end.
The play that will haunt Gregory and his team was the technical
against Lowery with 33.6 seconds to play and Xavier (24-7) ahead
Lowery had dribbled the ball just over halfcourt and called time
out. As he turned to go to his bench steps away, Holloway walked
over and slapped the ball out of his hands.
Lowery took exception and swung at him in a slapping motion
right in front of official Brent Hampton, who immediately told crew
chief Joe DeMayo. He watched the play on videotape and then told
both coaches he was calling a technical, which did not make Gregory
Gregory admitted he did not see the play. Lowery was not brought
into the post-game news conference.
"I just hope they're right because that's a crucial call,"
Gregory said. "I have no problem with a call being made on Rob if
his action is inappropriate. But if it's a response to something
that occurred after the whistle, then something has to be called on
that as well. If they're right, then they're right. I didn't see
it, I just hope they're right."
Holloway felt he did nothing wrong.
"One of my old coaches told me if a guy is just standing with
the ball try to swipe at the ball," said Holloway, who scored 14
of his 22 points in the Musketeers' game-closing 32-12 run. "He
probably thought I was trying to foul him so he kind of threw a
punch at me."
Holloway hit the two free throws to push the lead to four points
and he added two more with 32.4 seconds to go after he was fouled
again and it was never close again.
Jordan Crawford added 20 points and Jason Love had 17 points and
10 rebounds as Xavier won its eighth in a row.
"We had to keep fighting, staying with it," Love said. "The
worst thing you can do is stop fighting and give up. We kept
fighting and were able to get a win."
Marcus Johnson had 18 points and Chris Wright had 17 to lead
seventh-seeded Dayton (20-12). Lowery added 14.
Xavier, which is looking for its first conference title since
2006, will face the winner of the quarterfinal between third-seeded
Richmond and 11th-seeded Massachusetts on Saturday at Boardwalk
Xavier limited Dayton to just three field goals in the final
10:36 and all three came in the final 72 seconds. The last two were
scored in the final 13 seconds when the game was decided.
Dayton controlled the game for the first 30 minutes and went
ahead 61-46 on two free throws by Josh Benson with 10:37 to play.
The conference's preseason favorite then went ice cold, hitting 3
of their final 14 shots while turning the ball over six times.
"They made big plays, Crawford and Holloway," Wright said.
"They stepped up big. When it's time to step up, players step up
and they did that."
Holloway hit a 3-pointer to get Xavier going, Crawford followed
with a three-point play and Holloway added three more free throws
to close the gap to 61-55.
After Wright hit two free throws with 7:25 to go, Mark Lyons hit
two free throws to ignite a 9-2 spurt that got the Musketeers
within 65-64 on a short bank shot by Holloway.
After Kurt Huelsman made 1 of 2 free throws with 2:56 to play,
Crawford tied the game with a floater in the lane 31 seconds later.
Holloway gave Xavier the lead for good with a drive around the
left lane for a three-point play.
Nine of Dayton's losses in 2010 have been by five points or
Dayton shot nearly 54 percent from the field and held Xavier to
37 percent shooting in the first half in taking a 40-35 lead.