KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Trailing by eight at halftime, Xavier University (La.) opened the second half with a 9-3 run to ultimately topple No. 3 seeded Georgetown College (Ky.) on Thursday in the first round of the NAIA-Buffalo Funds Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.
The win improves Xavier, playing its first season following a one-year hiatus due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to 22-9 on the season. The Rush will move on to face the winner of the Lewis-Clark State (Id.)/Northwestern Oklahoma game in the round of 16 tomorrow, Friday, March 16th, at 8:00 p.m.
The Tigers' season ends at 29-3 after posting a perfect 10-0 record in the Mid-South Conference in the regular season. Georgetown will now have to wait until 2008 to get the opportunity to become the all-time leader in tournament wins as it will remain tied with Central Washington at 46 for at least one more season.
The Tigers jumped out to 6-0 in the first two minutes of the game and continued to steadily put on the pressure, opening the margin to as much as eleven at the 5:48 mark following a Chris Lee bucket.
Xavier chipped away at Georgetown's lead as the game neared halftime and managed to carry that momentum through the start of the second half with the aforementioned 9-3 run that was capped by Dannie Woods' successful free throw attempt. Woods wound up being the only player in The Rush's starting five to not reach double-figures as Kelechi Okoroha, Mark Stewart, Shaun Dumas, and Alfred Williams all reached that plateau. Stewart tied and the Tigers' Brian Silverhorn tied for the game-high with 19 points.
The two teams battled back-and-forth for the remainder of the second half as evidenced by the 79-79 deadlock with just 1:01 remaining in the game following Justin Taylor's two free throw attempts for the Tigers.
Both teams made unsuccessful trips down the court with a chance to take the lead late, but it was the team from Louisiana whom ultimately capitalized with just over four seconds remaining. Williams claimed the victory with a lay-up to finish off a half-court outlet pass by Olumide Olafioye. Olafioye collected the loose ball after Williams blocked the shot of Georgetown's Craig Schoen out of the perimeter. Williams' rejection was Xavier's only block of the game.
The Rush added one more when Olafioye hit one of his two free throws with just over two seconds remaining.