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College Basketball

Musketeer perseveres

Bad back can't keep Posey down in win over Princeton

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Posted: Wednesday March 17, 1999 10:48 PM

  Princeton's Chris Young (55) blocks the shot of Xavier's Aaron Turner, but the Tigers couldn't stop the Musketeers from coming out victorious. AP

CINCINNATI (AP) -- James Posey, playing despite a painful back, scored 19 points and sparked a second-half surge Wednesday night that carried Xavier to a 65-58 victory over Princeton in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Xavier (24-10) overcame injuries and a 16-point deficit to clinch an NIT semifinal game next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. It's Xavier's best showing in the NIT since winning it in 1958.

Princeton (22-8) caught Xavier flat-footed with its backdoor cuts and precise passing in the first half, pulling ahead by 16 points. The Tigers led 35-23 at halftime.

Xavier quickened the pace with its press in the second half, forcing Princeton to crumble under the weight of nine turnovers. Posey had eight points during a 22-7 spurt that gave Xavier a 52-49 lead with five minutes left.

Posey had to call timeout and leave the game after he twisted his back during the spurt. He returned and played the final seven minutes while limping and holding his lower back.

Lloyd Price's driving layup made it 59-56 with 1:55 left, and Posey stripped Chris Young of the ball to set up Lenny Brown's layup that put Xavier ahead by five points -- its biggest lead to that point.

With the crowd chanting his name, Posey got a clutch rebound and hit three free throws in the final 49 seconds to complete a gritty performance. Fans swarmed the court and lifted Posey up in celebration after he got the rebound to clinch it.

Posey was Xavier's leading scorer in all three of its NIT victories, two of them at the Cincinnati Gardens, where the Musketeers were 15-0 this season.

Young led Princeton with 21 points.

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