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Sato sends Xavier to first Elite eight

ATLANTA (AP) -- Romain Sato stood near midcourt, holding up one
finger and acknowledging the Xavier fans. It was a universal signal
from a player who speaks six languages.

The Musketeers are in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament
for the first time.

"Nobody thought we could get to this point," Sato said.

Sato scored 27 points and backcourt mate Lionel Chalmers added
14, helping the Musketeers beat Texas 79-71 in the semifinals of
the Atlanta Regional on Friday night.

No. 7 seed Xavier (26-10) won for the 16th time in 17 games and
advanced to Sunday's regional final against Duke, which beat Illinois.

That information surely will be featured prominently on
www.starinanylanguage.com, a catchy Web site started by Sato, a
native of the Central African Republic.

In the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, Xavier beat
previously undefeated Saint Joseph's 87-67. The Hawks beat Wake
Forest on Thursday night to advance to the final of the East
Rutherford Regional.

It's the first time two A-10 teams have advanced to the round of
eight.

"It's great for the A-10 because we don't get as much credit as
we deserve," Chalmers said. "It shows how strong we are, and it
shows when we were in last place earlier in the year, that was the
reason why."

Dedrick Finn added 11 points for the Musketeers.

"Just for us to prove it on the court means everything,"
Chalmers said.

Brandon Mouton had 21 before fouling out for the third-seeded
Longhorns (25-8), who were trying to reach the Final Four for the
second straight season. Brian Boddicker added 11, and P.J. Tucker
finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"We had a goal as freshmen to win a national championship,"
said Mouton, one of four seniors who played prominent roles for
Texas. "We pushed each other at practice every day to get better
in order to reach that goal, but we came up short.

"I feel that Texas is going to be a great program for years to
come."

Texas coach Rick Barnes got two technicals from referee Ted
Valentine with 3.9 seconds left and was thrown out of the game.
Barnes stopped by the Xavier bench and shook hands with coach Thad
Matta on his way to the locker room.

The last time the Musketeers reached the Sweet 16, in 1990, they
lost to Texas 102-89.

"To get to this point, I think, means more for us than for a
team like Duke, teams that are supposed to get there," Chalmers
said. "A team like us, it means a whole lot to have a chance to
see how good we can be."

Xavier used a 10-0 run late in the first half to take its first
lead, then added nine straight points over a span of about four
minutes after halftime to take control.

A 3-pointer by Boddicker cut the lead to 72-71 with 16.8 seconds
left, the closest the Longhorns had been since a tie at 50.

Sato hit two free throws to put Xavier up three.

Sydmill Harris then missed an off-balance 3-pointer with about
10 seconds left that would have tied it, and Finn was fouled. As
Valentine walked to the scorer's table to report the infraction, he
was met by Barnes.

About 15 seconds later, the coach was done for the night.

Sato made 3-of-4 at the line on the technicals, and Finn added
two more to seal it.

"Right now, it is tough," Boddicker said. "The toughest thing
about it is that I am not going to be able to suit up with these
guys anymore."

The late-season run by Xavier started with a 71-69 victory over
crosstown rival Cincinnati, and it was spoiled only by a loss to
lowly Duquesne.

In the A-10 tournament, the Musketeers won four games in four
days -- including that rout of Saint Joe's -- and then beat
Louisville and Mississippi State to reach the round of 16.

"I think teams take time to mature, and this team, obviously,
it took us some time to understand the roles that we were going to
have," Matta said. "We still screw stuff up."

As was the case all season, Sato and Chalmers led the way in
this one. Both played the entire 40 minutes, and Sato made 14-of-17
free throws. Chalmers bounced back from a rough half (2-for-7, six
points) and added seven rebounds and six assists.

"This is my last year, any game could be my last one," Sato
said.

Mouton ended another sensational tournament. Last year, he
averaged 17.8 points as Texas reached the Final Four, including 25
in a semifinal loss to eventual champ Syracuse.