Friday, December 30, 2011

Joseph's layup at buzzer gives Xavier an overtime victory

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida -- Wanto Joseph converted his frontcourt steal into a layup at the buzzer Thursday, giving Xavier University of Louisiana a 71-69 overtime men's basketball victory against Florida Memorial in the Miami Gardens Classic.

The Gold Rush (8-4), ranked 21st in NAIA Division I, snapped a two-game losing streak and finished 1-1 in the event. The Lions (4-9) of NAIA Division II dropped their seventh in a row and lost in overtime for the second straight day.

Joseph stole the ball from Denzel Wright with seven seconds remaining, then weaved through traffic to reach the basket and avoid a second overtime.

"I looked up at the clock and there were two seconds remaining," Joseph said. "I was at the volleyball (baseline), so I knew I was close enough. I took one dribble and two hard steps and made it to the rim in time."

Anthony Simmons led Xavier with 15 points and reached double figures for the first time in more than a month. Cordell Hadnot had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Jamaan Kenner had a season-high 11 points, and Denzell Erves scored 10. Joseph had nine points and led Xavier in the extra period with four.

"The game probably shouldn't have gone to overtime," XU coach Dannton Jackson said. "But any win on the road in overtime is great. Hopefully those five extra minutes gave us a little more experience and will help us get a little better."

Xavier trailed once in the final 14 minutes -- when George Gray's 3-pointer gave Florida Memorial a 48-47 advantage with 7:34 remaining in regulation -- and appeared to regain momentum when Simmons and Nick Haywood combined for all the points in an 8-0 response which took less than a minute. But FMU gained five XU turnovers thereafter and sent the game into overtime when Gray's basket beat the buzzer in regulation.

Gray scored a season-high 27 points. Matthew Rolle had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and La Dante Berry-White scored a career-best 13.

It was the second time in three games the XU men played overtime. They lost 95-91 in three OTs at city rival Loyola on Dec. 17. It was the first time in Jackson's nine seasons that the Gold Rush won on the road in overtime against a non-conference opponent.

Hadnot's double-double was the fifth of his career and his second in three games. His 15 rebounds were Xavier's most since Kelechi Okoroha grabbed the same amount at William Carey on Feb. 19, 2009. It was Hadnot's career-best sixth consecutive game to score in double figures.

"Cordell has been working really hard and came up big with rebounding today," Jackson said of the senior forward. "His presence down low and his will to score helped us a lot. It was also good to see Anthony Simmons be productive on both ends of the court."

Xavier outshot the Lions 43.1 to 41.7 percent from the floor and outrebounded them 41-28.

Xavier's next game will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the University of New Orleans in the first meeting between the schools since 1976.

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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