Sixteenth-ranked Xaviers ability to get to the free throw line helped both its offense and defense down the stretch as it came from behind in the second half to defeat visiting Miami University 60-53 Saturday at the Cintas Center.
Miami guard Kenny Hayes (File Photo)
The Musketeers, who were 8 of 21 from the charity stripe deep in to the second half, converted 14 of their final 17 free throws to pull away from a 38-all tie. In addition to providing points, Miami fouls also led to the disqualification of senior standout Michael Bramos and foul troubles for redshirt junior center Adam Fletcher.
Miami rushed out to an early 10-2 lead and doubled the hosts up at 22-11 when Bramos netted two free throws at 6:01. Miami then went ice cold, getting only a layup from Tyler Dierkers over the next six minutes.
Xavier, meanwhile, got eight points from free throws to go with a Derrick Brown three-poiter and B.J. Raymond basket to tie Miami at 24-all. It appeared the half would end that way, but Bramos nailed a long three-point shot prior to the buzzer to lift the RedHawks to 27-24 advantage.
I think there were two key times in the game, Miami coach Charlie Coles said. When we had the 22-11 lead, we let is slip (away). If we keep a seven or eight point lead, I think we feel better. And then the second thing was, they had a burst of energy I think it was with about six minutes to go in the game when they got all those offensive rebounds.
Miami pushed it to a six point margin early in the second half and led 38-34 when Hayes slammed home a dunk at 10:34. The senior had eight of Miamis first 11 points in the second half, and he finished with a team-high 19 markers.
Miami still led 38-34 before Xaviers Jason Love and Jamel McLean made a pair of put-backs to knot the score at 38-all.
Raymond gave the hosts the lead for good with a three-point goal at 7:28. Although Hayes answered with a layup to make it 41-40, Xavier began to pull away with a string of drives and free throws. Fletcher picked up his fourth foul at 7:01 and Bramos left briefly after getting tagged with his fourth foul with 6:05 remaining.
Bramos, who finished with 15 points, returned to score a two-point bucket (3:50) and three-pointer (3:13) to cut Xaviers lead to 48-47. Jamel McClean, however, penetrated the Miami defense for a put-back dunk at 2:39. That was big, Coles said.
Also big was Bramos final foul at 2:10. It removed one of Miamis top scoring threats and put Brown on the line, where he made his final two points in a 21-point performance that led all scorers. Raymond and Anderson also hit double figures with 13 apiece for Xavier. Anderson got seven of his total during the final 1:18 as he made a layup and five free throws to put the game away.
Xavier, winner of the Puerto Rico Tipoff Championship, moved its 2008 record to 6-0 while playing its first game without point guard Terrell Halloway. The freshman is out 2-4 weeks with a foot stress fracture. Xaviers next opponent is Auburn Dec. 3. The Tigers, now 3-3, dropped a 60-59 overtime decision to Dayton Friday and then fell to Northern Iowa 67-61 Saturday.
Miami, which has now faced three teams in the top 16, two of which were top five, fell to 2-4 on the season. All of the games have been on the road, and the RedHawks will have one more stop (Dec. 3 at Temple) before returning to Oxford for a home opener Dec. 6 against Northwestern State.