A-10 Championship pairings set
CINCINNATI - The University of Dayton men's basketball team dug a hole too deep to escape and fell to Xavier, 74-65, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati Saturday afternoon. With at least a share of the Atlantic 10 West Division title on the line, the Musketeers clinched a first-round bye in the A-10 Championship. The Flyers will have the third-seed and be forced to play an opening round game in the Championship for the first time since 2002.
In his final regular season game, senior Mark Jones led three Flyers (17-10, 10-6 A-10) in double-figures with 15 points. Freshmen Trent Meacham and Norman Plummer each had 14 while Brian Roberts scored seven.
The homestanding Musketeers (16-11, 10-6 A-10), in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,250, opened the game with a 14-0 lead and extended the advantage to 17-2 at the 11:50 before UD could get anything rolling offensively. Freshman Stanley Burrell scored 10 of the Musketeers' first 12 points en route to a game-high 25. He was seven-of-11 shooting from the field and eight-of-10 at the free throw line.
Once the Flyers got rolling to make a game of it, Roberts and Meacham drained back-to-back three-pointers to trigger a 12-4 run, cutting the lead to 24-18 with 4:14 left in the half. The Flyers' first points of the game came on a jumper by Marques Bennett at the 13:40 mark.
Roberts then hit a driving layup in closing seconds of the half and the Musketeers took a 30-22 lead into the break.
The Flyers opened the second half with a 6-3 run (four points from Plummer), cutting the lead to five at 33-28 with 16:25 left. But Dedrick Finn answered with a trey and Burrell converted an old-fashioned three-point play, extending the lead back to double-figures at 39-28 with 14:30 left.
Finn's three-pointer was the first of three pivotal shots from downtown that Xavier nailed in the second half. On the first three occasions Dayton cut the lead to five, Xavier answered from behind the arc. Finn's basket at the 15:40 mark was followed by Burrell's trey to make it 53-45 at 8:10 and Finn again made it 58-50 with a three at the 4:15 mark.
Jones scored five-straight points to finally cut the Xavier lead under five at 58-55 with 3:30 left, but Xavier answered once again. This time for good. Game MVP Will Caudle slammed the door, converting a three-point play after getting fouled on an arena-shaking dunk on the next possession and the Flyers would get no closer.
Caudle, a junior, was named the winner of the Blackburn-McCafferty MVP trophy by posting his first career double-double with career-bests in both points (18) and rebounds (13). Justin Doellman (12) and Dedrick Finn (11) were the other Muskies in double-figures.
For the game, UD was out-rebounded 28-22, including a 24-14 margin on the defensive glass. The Musketeers shot 59% for game, including a sizzling 67% (12-for-18) clip in the second half. After going cold in the first half (six-of-23 for 26%), UD shot 15-for-30 in the second, including five-for-10 from three-point range.
Due to tie-breakers in the A-10 West, UD will have the West's No. 3-seed (regardless of the outcome of today's George Washington-Rhode Island game) and play the East's sixth-seed St. Bonaventure. That game is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. EST in the A-10 Championship Opening Round at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. The winner of the UD-SBU game will play Temple (East No. 2) Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (A-10 TV).