Xavier outlasts Memphis in the championship to capture 2008 PRTO title
By John Roach
The 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-Off boasted a field of Xavier (Atlantic 10), Virginia Tech (ACC), USC (Pac-10), Missouri (Big 12), Seton Hall (Big East), Fairfield (MAAC), UT-Chattanooga (Southern) and Memphis (Conference USA). Xavier outlasted Memphis in a thrilling finale, one of 12 spirited matchups in this 3-day, 8-team tournament. Here’s how everyone did:
Chattanooga finished in eighth place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off after losing to Fairfield, 61-42. The Mocs scored just 16 points in the first half. Nicchaeus Dokes had 15 points and eight rebounds and Khalil Hartwell scored 11 in the loss. Dokes again led the way with 14 points and 15 rebounds and Stephen McDowell scored 10 in the Mocs’ second game, a 73-46 loss to 20th-ranked USC. Chattanooga made just 6 of 26 three-point attempts. And in the tourney opener, Chattanooga held a five-point lead halfway through the first half, before eventually falling to 12th-ranked Memphis, 81-73. McDowell had 27 and Dokes had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Fairfield took a convincing 61-42 win over Chattanooga to claim seventh in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Greg Nero led the way with 17 points and Anthony Johnson had 12 rebounds. In the Stags’ second game, they led Missouri midway through the first half, before eventually losing, 87-59. Warren Edney had 13 and Nero and Herbie Allen each scored 12. The Stags stayed close to Virginia Tech in its tourney opener, trailing by just four midway through the second half, before losing, 74-57. Nero had a team-high 13 points and 6 rebounds, Allen had 11 and Johnson finished with 10.
Memphis, which entered the Puerto Rico Tip-Off ranked 12th, lost a close championship game to Xavier, 63-58. Tyreke Evans scored a team-high 12 points, but was just 4-of-16 from the field. Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson each scored 10. The Tigers cruised to an easy 84-70 second-round victory over Seton Hall. Doneal Mack scored 16, Willie Kemp had 14 and Evans finished with 12. Memphis opened the tourney with an 81-73 victory over Chattanooga behind Mack’s 19 points and Shawn Taggart’s 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Tigers shot 51.7 percent from the field.
Missouri took fourth place in the tourney with come-from-behind, 83-72 upset of 20th-ranked USC. Trailing 43-37 at the half, the Tigers outscored USC 46-29 for the win. DeMarre Carroll had 29 points and 11 rebounds, J.T. Tiller scored 14, and Leo Lyons had 13. In its second game, Missouri shook off a sluggish start to pull away for an easy 87-59 win over Fairfield. Carroll scored 15 points, Matt Lawrence had 14, and Lyons added 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers opened the tourney with a down-to-the-wire 75-71 loss to tourney champ Xavier. Carroll scored a team-high 17, Lyons had 15, and Tiller had 13.
Seton Hall took third place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off thanks to an outstanding tournament by guard Jeremy Hazell, who scored 23 points in the team’s 77-73 win over Virginia Tech. Robert Mitchell had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Paul Gause scored 14. The Pirates lost a second-round match-up to 12th-ranked Memphis, 84-70, despite 20 second-half points by Hazell, who finished with a career-high 32. Eugene Harvey added 21. They opened the tourney by stunning 20th-ranked USC, 63-61, after coming back from a 15-point halftime deficit. Hazell scored 17, Harvey had 16 points and five assists, and John Garcia had 11 points and 18 rebounds.
USC entered the tourney ranked 20th nationally, but dropped two games to finished sixth in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Trojans lost to Missouri, 83-72, making just 15-of-28 free throws. Dwight Lewis had 15 and Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett each scored 11. Gibson had a strong all-around game in a 73-46 win over Chattanooga in the second round. He finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Lewis added 16 and DeMar DeRozan had 13. USC dropped its tourney opener to Seton Hall, 63-61, after leading by 15 at halftime. The Trojans, led by Gibson’s 19 points and 18 rebounds, scored just 18 second-half points.
Virginia Tech claimed fifth place in the tourney after losing to Seton Hall, 77-73, in its third game. Malcolm Delaney scored a team-high 25, A.D. Vassallo had 22, and Jeff Allen collected 17 points and 17 rebounds. The Hokies lost a heartbreaker, 63-62 in overtime, to tourney champ Xavier on a desperation three-point buzzer-beater. Allen, who had the apparent game-winning tip-in with three seconds left, finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. In its tourney opener, Virginia Tech used a strong second half to pull away from Fairfield for a 74-57 victory. Leading by just four midway through the second half, the Hokies scored 23 of the next 29 points. Vassallo (24 points) and Allen (18) led the scoring.
Xavier used clutch free throw shooting and balanced scoring to come away with the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship and a 63-58 victory over 12th-ranked Memphis. Reserve Terrell Holloway (13 points) was one of four double-figure scorers, along with B.J. Raymond (11), Jamel McLean (11), and C.J. Anderson (10). “We really showed a lot of toughness and resiliency in all three games in the tournament,” said Xavier coach Sean Miller. The Musketeers won an overtime thriller over Virginia Tech when Dante Jackson scored his only field goal of the game—a desperation, beyond halfcourt three-pointer—to give Xavier a 63-62 victory. Derrick Brown scored 16 and C.J. Anderson had 13. Holloway matched his hot championship game free throw shooting in the tourney opener, hitting 10-of-10 second-half free throws and finishing with 12 points in a 75-71 win over Missouri. Derrick Brown had 16 points and Raymond added 11.
John Roach is a former college basketball writer and editor at ESPN The Magazine.