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Xavier upsets No. 9 Virginia Tech in semifinals
Posted: Sunday February 28, 1999 09:52 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Good shooting will do it every time.
Xavier hit 58 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc to knock off No. 9 Virginia Tech 86-79 in the Atlantic 10 Conference semifinals on Sunday night.
"Xavier exposed us defensively with their shooting," said Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Hendrickson. "They have too many weapons for us to let them get uncontested shot like that."
Nicole Levandusky had 23 points on 9-for-13 from the field, including 5-for-7 from the 3-point arc, as the Musketeers (23-7) defeated the Hokies for the second time this season and advanced to its first Atlantic 10 final in their four years in the league.
"They were following me like crazy in the first half," Levandusky said of the Hokies defense that held her to just one 3-pointer in the first half. "In the second half, my teammates were setting good screens and I was getting open."
Nikki Kremer had 17 points and 12 assists, Jennifer Phillips had 25 points, Katie Griggs added 13 points and Taru Tuukkanen chipped in 12 for Xavier, which has set a school record for wins in a season.
Amy Wetzel matched a career-high with 28 points, Tere Williams had 20 points and Lisa Witherspoon dished 13 assists for Virginia Tech (26-2).
"We've got to put this game behind us," Hendrickson said. "The NCAA tournament is like a new season."
Xavier is hoping to earn a bid into the NCAA tournament with a strong showing this week.
"We knew we had to play our way into the tournament because we can't get in according to our reputation alone," coach Melanie Balcomb said. "I'm nobody and we're nobody."
The lead changed hands 13 times during the first 28 minutes. But Xavier took the lead for good when Kim Hotz converted a three-point play to make it 57-55.
Katie O'Connor then hit one free throw with 9:31 to go. But Xavier went on a 9-1 run, with Levandusky burying two 3-pointers, to open up a 63-56 lead. That advantage would eventually grow to 12 in the final minute.
The Hokies -- who lost just twice this season, both times to Xavier -- were stretched to triple overtime in the quarterfinal round before beating Dayton 73-72. Witherspoon, the team's leading passer, sat out that one with back spasms. She played in the loss to Xavier, but her status was unsure until just before game time.
"We trusted Lisa's decision," Hendrickson said. "I asked her if she had ever played in this much pain and she said yes. I trusted her."
Xavier is trying to become the second straight team to win the A-10 tournament despite not getting a first-round bye. The only other time it happened was last season when Virginia Tech took the title.
"We practice three hours a day and games are only 40 minutes with media timeouts and more water breaks," Balcomb said. "I think the whole key is attitude."
The Musketeers advance to the finals to face the winner of the George Washington-St. Joseph's game.
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