ORLANDO - At the game start, Xavier University forward Malcolm Bernard, a Middleburg High graduate, registered the first blocked shot of the game to set a tone with the score stuck at 0-0 and also …
ORLANDO - At the game start, Xavier University forward Malcolm Bernard, a Middleburg High graduate, registered the first blocked shot of the game to set a tone with the score stuck at 0-0 and also hit a key three-pointer late the second half to pull the Musketeers to within three, 46-43, and set up a second half surge that Maryland could not overcome.
As both the No. 11 Musketeers and the No. 4-Maryland Terrapins tried to settle into their NCAA mens basketball championship round one game Thursday night at Orlando's Amway Center, Xavier would blast off in the second half with an 18-4 run that included the 14-0 surge in the middle of the second half as Xavier pulled away from the Terrapins to win 76-65.
Xavier will advance to round two West Region bracket of the March Madness extravaganza playing out across the nation. Xavier will match up on Saturday in Orlando with the winner of No. 3 Florida State University vs. No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast University played later Thursday night.
As the game unfolded between Xavier and Maryland, defense and a tightly wound basket prevented either team from breaking out from a 0-0 score that lasted nearly three minutes into the game.
Score still 2-0 for Xavier off a jumper from Quentin Gooden that lasted until 16:59 into the first half when Melo Trimble hit a three pointer for Maryland.
At 11:02, Bernard had a steal that got a missed layup from Gooden with Bernard following the play, grabbing an offensive rebound and sinking a layup to score the game 17-11 for Xavier with 10:46 left in the half.
Maryland would battle to a 30-30 tie at 3:49 to go.
Maryland would inch to a 36-35 lead at the halftime break.
Right out of the locker room, Maryland broke to a 41-38 lead lead before both teams exchange baskets to set up a 46-40 Maryland lead that Bernard would squish to 46-43 with a three pointer from the right side of the basket at 15:25.
Two free throws from guard Sean O'Mara would put the game at 46-45 Maryland before a Goodin layup gave Xavier the 47-46 lead at 14:05.
Maryland would get stymied at 56 points with the 14-0 run late at 5:43 until the 3:59 to go mark as Xavier began dominating the backboards on both ends.
Bernard led the Xavier on the boards with six rebounds with two steals. Bernard also had two assists and one of two blocked shots for Xavier.
In the final three minutes, with Maryland down 65-58, Xavier was called for a foul on a layup attempt by Maryland guard Melo Trimble that put the Terrapins at 65-59 with 2:50 to go.
Bernard got caught near midcourt as the Maryland defense put a three-man trap on him and forced Xavier to use a timeout. Bernard limped slightly off the court as he headed to the Xavier bench.
Bernard returned to the court after the timeout with the Musketeers getting the ball in the Terrapin side of the court where Maryland got called for two quick fouls; one for free throws for Goodin, a 53 percent free throw shooter.
Goodin would convert both to push the score to 67-59 with 2:10 to go.
On a travel call against Maryland, Bernard nearly lost an inbound pass and was removed from the game. A breakaway dunk by Xavier's Kaiser Gates scored the game 69-59 before Maryland hit a Kevin Huerter three pointer to close the gap to 69-62 with 1:26 left in the game.
With less than a minute in the game, and Maryland forced to launch three pointers and foul Xavier players, the score stretched to 74-63 for the Musketeers.
Xavier finished with a perimeter standoff as the buzzer sounded for the final 76-65 score.