PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – This one stung, and it should have, because the sheer premise of it all makes very little sense.
For the 40 minutes of regulation, Xavier never trailed.
And when the final buzzer sounded, none of that mattered.
With its best player knocked out by cramps on a hot and humid night inside the converted ballroom that's serving as a basketball arena this weekend, Xavier wasted a 15-point, second-half lead and wound up losing to No. 23 Iowa 77-74 in overtime on Thursday night.
Xavier (5-1) had three 3-point tries all bounce off the rim in the final 10 seconds. Justin Martin led the Musketeers with 15 points, while Semaj Christon — the team's leading scorer who left in the second half with the cramps — added 14. Myles Davis scored 12 and Matt Stainbrook finished with 11.
"The wheels fell off," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.
They darn near did for the Hawkeyes (6-0) as well.
Devyn Marble scored 30 points before leaving with a right leg cramp, Zach McCabe scored 11 points, and Gabriel Olaseni had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Aaron White's 10-point night ended with a clutch tip-in with 1:40 left in overtime, and the Hawkeyes held on from there.
"You know what's interesting about our team, and I mean this sincerely, we've got so many different players who can score," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Iowa will meet either Tennessee or Texas-El Paso in Friday's semifinals, with Xavier facing the other in the consolation round.
The Musketeers had 55 points in the first 28 minutes of regulation, then 14 in the final 12 minutes before the extra session. The opportunity was there, largely because Iowa was making life pretty easy on the Musketeers.
The Hawkeyes missed 13 of their first 15 shots of the second half, and even gave Xavier two bonus points during intermission. As the teams were walking off the floor for halftime, McCaffery got a technical foul for arguing with the referees, so 37-30 became 39-30 after two free throws before the second half started.
Xavier's lead was 55-42 with 12 minutes left. That's when Iowa remembered to start putting the ball through the hole.
A 3-pointer by Marble, a dunk from White and another 3 from Marble — all in the span of about 70 seconds — got Iowa right back into things. Another stop led to a possession where Marble hit a pair of free throws with 8:09 left, and Melsahn Basabe's dunk in transition capped a 12-0 run that drew Iowa within 55-54.
Xavier pushed the lead back to six, with Stainbrook getting a three-point play and assisting on another basket, before Iowa closed within one yet again.
With 2:06 left in regulation and Iowa down four, the Hawkeyes figured to have lost their best shot at a comeback.
Marble, who was getting his right calf worked on during at least one previous timeout because of cramping, went down near his team's bench because of another cramp, writing and screaming in obvious pain.
He had 30 of Iowa's 63 points at the time, and without him, the Hawkeyes' comeback chore figured to get considerably tougher.
No problem, somehow.
"Coach trusted us," Olaseni said.
Olaseni made a pair of free throws, Mike Gesell hit a 10-footer with 1:40 left after a turnover, and Iowa had finally tied the game. Both teams wound up missing chances at the end of regulation and to the extra session they went, tied at 69-all.
"We have nothing to complain about," Stainbrook said. "It was a tough game. ... Just got to change our mission to go 2-1 (in the Bahamas) now."
Before the game was 4 minutes old, Iowa was facing what was its biggest deficit of the season.
Christon had a pair of early dunks for Xavier, the Hawkeyes came out cold, and it was 11-2 Musketeers right out of the gate. In Iowa's first five games, the largest lead by any opponent was seven points.
"Iowa's a veteran team," Mack said. "We fought tooth and nail. ... We had our chances to win."