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Updated: Monday, December 9, 2002 11:30 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(11) Xavier 68, Miami Ohio 58
MIAMI (OH) REDHAWKS
Miami (OH) Redhawks
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XAVIER (OH) MUSKETEERS
Xavier (OH) Musketeers
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CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Xavier continues to win with tough defense.

After nearly squandering a 13-point halftime lead, the 11th-ranked Musketeers allowed just two points during a seven-minute span down the stretch and held on for a 68-58 victory over Miami of Ohio.

It was the second straight test for Xavier (5-1) against a local rival. On Saturday, the Musketeers got past Cincinnati, 50-44.

"We didn't have the intensity that we needed," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "But we beat, in my opinion, a very good basketball team, a team that is going to win a lot of basketball games. We'll take it and move on."

David West and Lionel Chalmers scored 18 points apiece for Xavier, which came in holding opponents to just 37 percent from the field. West also grabbed 12 rebounds.

But the RedHawks (3-4) cut into a 35-22 halftime deficit by making 12 of their first 21 shots in the second half. They closed to 52-51 on Juby Johnson's 3-pointer with 8:09 remaining.

"We're going to see that (deliberate offense)," West said. "There were a lot of times that they were taking a shot with five, four, three seconds left."

The Musketeers never gave up the lead as Miami turned the ball over on its next two possessions. Its only points over the next seven minutes came on Chet Mason's tip-in of Johnson's miss with 5:10 to play that made it 54-53.

West's layup capped an 8-0 spurt. Xavier opened a 62-53 cushion on Romain Sato's two foul shots with 1:23 remaining. Sato contributed 11 points.

"Their defense, we were really afraid of it, and we didn't execute our offense in the first half," Miami coach Charlie Coles said. "In the second half, we played hard. We defended well."

Chalmers, who was 8-of-9 from the line, capped the victory with a dunk in the final second.

Mason scored 19 points and Johnson added 14 for the RedHawks, who made just 7-of-12 foul shots. Xavier made just 1-of-7 3-pointer, compared to 7-of-18 for Miami, but converted 23-of-30 free throws.

Miami jumped to a 7-2 lead, but Xavier answered with a 15-0 run and never trailed thereafter. The Musketeers took the lead for good, 8-7, on West's jumper with 15:05 left in the first half.

"We underestimated them," West said. "When the game started, they were doing a lot of talking. To their credit, they landed the first blow, but we came back."

Xavier shot 42 percent (22-of-52), while Miami finished at 44 percent (22-of-50). The RedHawks were coming off a 44-39 victory over Western Michigan.

The Musketeers have won three straight from Miami to take a 46-44 lead in the all-time series.


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