No. 25 Xavier 93, St. Bonaventure 72

The buzzer sounded, the confetti flew. Xavier was about to cut

down a net again.

Old stuff? Never.

The 25th-ranked Musketeers won a share of their fourth straight

Atlantic 10 regular-season title on Saturday, riding the emotion of

senior day and Jordan Crawford’s 22 points to a 93-72 victory over

St. Bonaventure. Then, they broke out those well-worn scissors.

“There’s a legacy to uphold,” said first-year coach Chris

Mack, who used them last. “I’m glad these guys understood it as

well as the past groups.”

The Musketeers (23-7, 14-2) share the title with No. 20 Temple,

which beat George Washington earlier in the day. Xavier is the

second team in league history to win four straight – Massachusetts

got five in a row from 1992-96.

“Making history – there’s nothing like it,” said senior center

Jason Love, the team’s lone player who was part of all four titles.

“It’s hard to do.”

St. Bonaventure (14-15, 7-9) had been on its best streak of the

season, winning four in a row. The Musketeers crushed that momentum

with an opening 26-6 run. Andrew Nicholson led the Bonnies with 21

points.

“Jason Love and Jordan Crawford are two special players, and

they’ve got great role guys,” Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said.

“They were so much more physical than we were, especially

early.”

A shower of blue-and-white confetti fell from the rafters after

reserve guard Brian Walsh dribbled out the final seconds at

midcourt. Love held up a large sign listing those four straight

titles, and guard Terrell Holloway carried a sign that read, “X 4

PEAT.”

Mack was last to climb the stepladder. He made the final snip

that freed the net, then held it up in celebration.

Love was honored before the game and had 14 points and nine

rebounds against a double-teaming defense. He got a standing

ovation when he left with 2:36 to go. Xavier won 20 games with

fewer than two seniors on the roster for the first time in its

history.

Crawford, the league’s leading scorer, went 8 of 12 from the

field and pulled off several acrobatic moves to the basket. Fans

cheered “One more year!” when Crawford sliced through the defense

for a finger-roll layup.

The sophomore guard had to watch the championship celebration in

a sweat suit last season, when he was sitting out after

transferring from Indiana. This time, he snipped a piece of net and

stored it over his right ear. Asked if he thought that it might be

his last game at the Cintas Center as well – he could decide to go

to the NBA – Crawford said, “Naw, I didn’t think about that at

all.”

The Musketeers have quite a collection of regular-season titles

– eight during their 15 seasons in the Atlantic 10. This was one of

the most unexpected.

With only one senior returning, the Musketeers weren’t picked to

win it. They pulled it off by continuing their tradition of playing

tough at home, and grew steadily as the season went along. They won

11 of their last 12 games, including a 76-64 victory at

Florida.

Xavier has won all 32 of its A-10 home games since the start of

the 2006-07 season, the second-longest streak in league history.

Temple won 34 straight. Xavier has won 24 consecutive home games

overall, tied for the third-longest active streak in Division

I.

Love, a 6-foot-9 center, fought back tears when he was

introduced on court before the game and received a large framed

photograph of himself. He held it over his head to show the

cheering crowd.

Then, the Musketeers transferred that energy into a huge early

lead. With the Bonnies’ defense focused on stopping Love, Jamel

McLean took advantage by getting open inside for a pair of

three-point plays. He had eight points in the 26-6 surge.

Crawford hit a 3-pointer, made a pair of layups, then passed to

Kenny Frease for a fastbreak dunk that put Xavier up 68-46 midway

through the second half and began the countdown to the net

cutting.