Freshmen provide spark

Thursday, December 3, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Miami's Jason Grunkemeyer needed 10 stitches after flipping over the back of Xavier's Gary Lumpkin.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

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Lenny Brown missed a short, soft jumper in the lane. Xavier freshman Lloyd Price came flying in, dunked the rebound, and slapped the backboard for good measure.

"That's just to get me hyper," he said.

There was 4:11 remaining. The Musketeers had a lead they would not relinquish.

No. 23 Xavier rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit and beat previously unbeaten No. 22 Miami 64-56 on Wednesday night in a loud, sold-out Cincinnati Gardens.

The showdown was all but over with six seconds to play, when RedHawks senior Wally Szczerbiak wrapped his arms around a fastbreaking James Posey for an intentional foul near midcourt. Both players sprawled to the floor. As Posey got up, the Xavier celebration began.

It's been a while since the students swarmed the Gardens floor after a victory. It seems everyone understood how badly the Musketeers needed to win after losing two out of three in Puerto Rico.

"We found a way," Posey said. "We were going to beat Miami. That was the bottom line. It had to start tonight. We weren't going to lose."

Xavier freshman Kevin Frey had eight points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

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It was a game worthy of the area rivalry, which has been won by the home team five straight times.

Miami, which joined the Top 25 last week, dropped to 4-1, but the news wasn't all bad for coach Charlie Coles. "That was finest all-around we've played," he said. "We showed great defensive tenacity."

There were eight ties and 11 lead changes and even more emotional swings.

Price's rebound dunk broke the final tie. Xavier led 56-53 when the backbreaker came: Senior guard Gary Lumpkin came behind a Posey screen and nailed a three-pointer from the top of the arc. It was 59-53 Musketeers with 2:31 left.

The Xavier defense clamped down on Szczerbiak in the final minutes. He hit a bank shot while being fouled, made the free throw and cut it to 60-56 with 36.8 seconds to go. But that was Miami's only field goal in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

Xavier sealed the victory with five free throws in the final 48 seconds.

[szczerbiak and posey]
James Posey, right, made Miami star Wally Szczerbiak work hard for his points.
(Michael Snyder photo)

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The Musketeers got some big performances from some young guys. Price finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and five rebounds. Freshman Kevin Frey, making his first start, had eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds and three blocks.

"He played like he was 7-foot-3," Posey said of Frey. "He hustled. He banged with everybody. He fought for every rebound. He left everything behind. He did a great job. I'm not a coach, but I think he'll start many more games to come."

Posey and Lumpkin each added 13 points for XU (5-2).

Prosser made no substitutions in the second half, going the whole way with Lumpkin, Brown, Posey, Price and Frey. He thought that lineup gave Xavier the best chance to win.

"That wore us down," Coles said. "They kept coming at us. The story of the game is they guarded Damon (Frierson) and Wally so well that they were tired out at the end. The story was Xavier's unwillingness to lose."

Szczerbiak led all scorers with 24 points. He was 9-of-16 from the field and scored the RedHawks' last 12 points. No other Miami player scored in the last 10 minutes. Frierson finished with 10 points.

Frey beats Miami's Mike Ensminger to the ball.
(Michael Snyder photo)

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Posey spent all night chasing Szczerbiak, trying to make him work for his points.

"I took it as a personal challenge," Posey said. "That was basically it. It was personal. I think I did a fine job, but the team helped me a lot, too. I never ran off so many picks in my life."

Said Szczerbiak, "I enjoy playing against a guy like that. I came in with the mindset to run him off screens because he's hard to beat one-on-one."

A three-pointer by Szczerbiak 10 seconds into the second half gave Miami a 33-23 advantage -- its biggest lead of the night. He did not score again for more than 10 minutes.

Xavier chipped away for the next eight minutes and tied it with a Posey layup at the 12:03 mark.

Xavier had to rally because it could not take advantage in the last 812 minutes of the first half when Szczerbiak went to the bench with his second foul. At the time, Szczerbiak had nine of Miami's 17 points, and Xavier was ahead 18-17. He fouled Posey trying to get an offensive rebound. Big opportunity for XU.

Not only couldn't the Musketeers capitalize, but the RedHawks finished the half with a 13-5 run to lead by seven points at halftime.

The game was more at Miami's pace from the start with both teams showing patience on offense when there were not fastbreak opportunities. "It was time for us to have a winning tempo," XU coach Skip Prosser said, "whether it was the Indy 500 or a 20K walk."

Emotional rescue for Musketeers Tim Sullivan column
Szczerbiak gets it from all sides
Xavier-Miami Notebook
Xavier season in stories

MIAMI  (56)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Szczerbiak      32  9-16   4-5   2-7  1  4   24
Stewart         17   1-5   0-0   1-1  0  3    3
Ensminger       21   0-1   0-0   2-7  2  1    0
Taylor          29   2-9   0-0   1-2  4  0    5
Frierson        40  5-14   0-0   1-4  4  3   10
Grunkemeyer     13   2-5   0-0   0-1  0  2    6
Lethunya        24   3-4   0-0   1-3  1  4    6
Estick          24   1-3   0-0   1-2  1  3    2
TOTALS         200 23-57   4-5  9-27 13 20   56

Percentages: FG-.404, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals:
6-22, .273 (Szczerbiak 2-6, Stewart 1-4, Taylor
1-4, Frierson 0-4, Grunkemeyer 2-4). Team
rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Szczerbiak).
Turnovers: 14 (Szczerbiak 4, Frierson 2, Lethunya
2, Stewart 2, Taylor 2, Ensminger). Steals: 7
(Frierson 2, Ensminger, Estick, Grunkemeyer,
Stewart, Taylor).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Price           37   5-8   2-3   2-5  2  2   13
Posey           37   4-8   5-6   2-7  3  3   13
Frey            33   3-5   2-4  3-14  0  3    8
L Brown         38  4-12   2-2   0-3  2  1   12
Lumpkin         38  4-10   3-5   1-1  2  1   13
Mcafee           8   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Walker           9   2-3   1-2   1-1  0  0    5
TOTALS         200 22-47 15-22  9-31  9 11   64

Percentages: FG-.468, FT-.682. 3-Point Goals:
5-17, .294 (Price 1-2, Posey 0-2, Frey 0-1, L
Brown 2-5, Lumpkin 2-6, Mcafee 0-1). Team
rebounds: None. Blocked shots: 7 (Frey 3, Price
2, Posey, Walker). Turnovers: 11 (Frey 3, Posey
3, L Brown 2, Walker 2, Lumpkin). Steals: 6
(Posey 3, Lumpkin 2, Price).
Miami              30   26  -   56
Xavier             23   41  -   64
Technical fouls: Xavier 1 (Price).  A: 10,100.
Officials: Mike Sanzere, Buddy Mayborg, John