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Updated: Thursday, March 6, 2003 12:31 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(11) Xavier 88, Saint Josephs 80 (ot)
XAVIER (OH) MUSKETEERS
Xavier (OH) Musketeers
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ST. JOSEPH'S (PA) HAWKS
St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks
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PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Xavier continues to walk the tightrope.

David West scored 10 of his 25 points in overtime as the 11th-ranked Musketeers stretched their winning streak to 14 games with an 88-80 victory over Saint Joseph's in a battle of Atlantic 10 Conference division leaders.

Xavier (23-4, 14-1 A-10 West) clinched a tie for the West Division title after surviving harrowing finishes in its last three victories. The Musketeers needed overtime last week to win at Duquesne and got a tip-in from West at the buzzer in Saturday's one-point triumph over George Washington.

Xavier rallied from a 71-67 deficit with 39 seconds left in regulation, tying it on Lionel Chalmers' tough turnaround over Jameer Nelson with seven seconds to go. Nelson had a chance to win it but misfired on a shot from near half-court.

West took control in overtime, giving the Musketeers the lead for good at 78-76 with 1:35 left. After the Hawks' Pat Carroll missed a 3-pointer, West added a basket for a four-point advantage with 56 seconds left.

Xavier freshman Dedrick Finn helped seal the victory with four foul shots in the final 35 seconds. West made 3-of-4 from the line after the Hawks were whistled for a technical when fans threw debris onto the court.

"It's unfortunate," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "They are young kids that are highly energetic and they had a lot to do with us getting back in the game. The ending shouldn't take away from their backing of their schoolmates and the greatness of the game."

Saint Joseph's (21-5, 11-4 East) played without leading scorer Delonte West, who suffered a stress fracture in his right fibula in Saturday's victory over Richmond. Delonte West averages 18.2 points per game.

Nelson finished one shy of a career high with 33 points for Saint Joseph's, which fell to 9-1 at the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. Nelson, however, made just 13-of-34 shots and had only two assists.

The Musketeers placed all five starters in double figures as Finn scored 18 points and Anthony Myles added 17. Chalmers netted 13 points and Romain Sato chipped in 10 as Xavier shot 50 percent (28-of-56).

Xavier took a 40-39 lead on Sato's jumper at the halftime buzzer. Sato capped an 11-2 spurt to start the second half for a 51-42 advantage with 16:22 remaining. The Musketeers took their largest lead on two free throws by freshman Will Caudle that made it 58-44 with 10:10 left in regulation.

Saint Joseph's responded with 10 straight points as part of a 19-3 tear. Nelson led the way with seven points and his layup gave the Hawks their first lead of the second half with less than five minutes to go.

"Two very quality teams in a tremendous atmosphere," Martelli observed. "We got maximum effort out there."

Nelson's acrobatic layup gave Saint Joseph's a 69-67 advantage and two fouls shots by John Bryant opened a four-point lead with 39 seconds to go. David West scored inside and the Musketeers got a break when Hawks freshman Chet Stachitas missed a 1-and-1 opportunity with 21 seconds remaining.

Xavier took advantage on its last possession of regulation, despite the fact that David West was bottled up. Chalmers broke off the play designed for West and got into the lane against Nelson before drilling his tying shot.

David West notched his 20th double-double of the season with 14 rebounds. The Musketeers still managed to lose the battle on the boards, 39-36, as Hawks reserve Dwayne Jones grabbed 12.

Tyrone Barley tried to pick up the slack for Saint Joseph's in the absence of Delonte West, scoring 14 points. No other Hawk reached double figures.

Xavier enjoyed a huge advantage at the free-throw line, converting 23 to just six for the home team. The Hawks shot 36 percent (10-of-28) from beyond the arc.

The Musketeers have won six of the last seven meetings in the series.


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