Men's Basketball Slips by Xavier
March 12, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington committed 26 turnovers and missed 11 of 21 free throws, yet still managed to win its first NCAA tournament game in 14 years.
The 11th-seeded Huskies did it with defense, forcing 17 turnovers of their own and holding Xavier to one field goal in the final 9:53. The clincher came when 7-footers Patrick Femerling and Todd MacCulloch both got a hand on the ball as T.J. Johnson attempted a buzzer-beating layup, preserving Thursday's 69-68 victory over the sixth-seeded Musketeers.
"The description of what this month is, March Madness," Washington coach Bob Bender said. "We're a team that sometimes wins without the stat sheet backing it up.
"It came down to one thing. We had to have one stop. So the offensive stats don't bear it out, but at least we got the one stop that made the difference."
It was Washington's first NCAA victory since Detlef Schrempf led a victory over Duke in 1984, and Bender's first ever as a head coach.
"This is really special," said Bender, who played on Final Four teams with Indiana and Duke. "How many teams get to come back and practice another day?"
The game-winning shot was Deon Luton's 17-foot jumper from the left wing with 11.2 seconds to play, ending a ragged possession that was supposed to get the ball inside. It was typical of Washington's game-long frustration against Xavier's quick defense, but the Huskies (19-9) kept responding with defensive plays of their own and never let the Musketeers (22-8) get into their running game.
"We would make a steal and sometimes fumble it right back to them," Xavier coach Skip Prosser said. "Credit their defense for that."
Gary Lumpkin's two free throws gave Xavier the lead with 42.5 remaining, even though the Musketeers had gone nearly seven minutes without a field goal.
After Luton put Washington ahead, Xavier had two shots to win it in the waning seconds. Lumpkin threw up an air ball, and Johnson's layup attempt off an inbounds pass was blocked as time expired.
"Everything went really quick," Femerling said. "Todd got a hand on the ball, and I got a hand on the ball."
Luton and Donald Watts scored 17 points apiece and MacCulloch had 16 to lead Washington, the Pac-10's fourth-place team. Darnell Williams and James Posey both had 17 for Atlantic 10 champ Xavier.
The teams combined for 43 turnovers and only five field goals in the last 9:53 of the game. One big difference was Washington's 54 percent shooting, compared to Xavier's 38 percent. The poor shooting meant Xavier couldn't press, and that slowed them down.
"We didn't attack aggressively like we normally do," center Torraye Braggs said. "They dictated the tempo and hit the shots they had to."
For the game's first 10 minutes, Washington didn't have a clue offensively against a defense which forced an average of 22 turnovers per game. The Huskies had no half-court rhythm, couldn't get MacCulloch involved, missed most of their free throws and didn't take long to hit double digits in turnovers.
But they hung in by getting some boards and trailed only 27-22 with 6:33 to go in the half. Then Dan Dickau sank a 3-pointer to start a 16-3 run and Washington started giving Xavier a taste of its own medicine, forcing a series of turnovers and not allowing a field goal in the final 5:25.
"We did it by defense," Bender said. "We needed to prove to ourselves that we could come out and make defensive (big plays), not just stops. We got our hands on balls, and that allowed us to break back on them."