George Washington had the perfect game plan for high-scoring, No. 16 Xavier last night: slow it down. However, GW forgot to execute in the final two minutes.
Xavier's 6-foot-7 forward, T.J. Johnson, blocked J.J. Brade's layup attempt with 18 seconds left, allowing the Musketeers to escape with a 62-61 Atlantic 10 West victory over the Colonials before 4,932 at Smith Center.
Xavier's 6-8 junior forward, Torraye Braggs, hit a follow shot with 1:25 left that proved to be the game-winner. A travelling call on Johnson gave the Colonials the ball back with 1.5 seconds left, but point guard Shawnta Rogers' inbounds pass to 7-1 center Alexander Koul was knocked away by Johnson and Braggs to preserve Xavier's victory.
Xavier's win gave the Musketeers (13-2, 4-1 A-10 West) a commanding two-game lead over GW (8-7, 3-3) in the standings.
"We won't talk about any one play, but there were couple other ones that made more of a difference," GW coach Mike Jarvis said of on the final play. "Tough to make that at the end. It would have been nice to not have to try to win it with one second left."
With GW leading 61-60, 6-8 GW sophomore forward Yegor Mescheriakov threw the ball over Koul's head into the stands. Moments later, with GW trailing 62-61, Rogers was called for a charge.
"We threw the ball away a few times, but they did the same thing," Jarvis said of the late-game breakdown. "I think that's just about young people playing in a pressure situation on both sides of the ball. . . . Those are mental mistakes, not because you're physically tired."
The game was tied 12 times and there were 10 lead changes before the final seconds. Koul led all scorers with 20 points. Rogers and Mescheriakov contributed 13 each for GW.
GW held Xavier - the nation's highest-scoring team at 88.5 - to its lowest offensive output of the season.
"Kansas didn't get 88, so Xavier's not going to get 88," Jarvis said of his team's defensive abilities. "Nobody's going to get 88 against us. It's not about slowing it down either. Overall, the team defense is getting better. And the wine is getting closer to being ready. No wine, before its time."
The excitement began early. With only 1:33 expired, GW's Rogers fired a three-quarter court pass to Koul lurking on the baseline. …