Xavier Escapes With Win Over St. Johnís
The Xavier Menís Basketball team continued their winning ways on Tuesday night with their 8th Big East win over the Red Storm of St. Johnís. The No. 6 ranked Muskies improved to 20-3 in the 73-68 win over St. Johnís on the road in front of a crowd of 5,602 at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, New York. Senior guard Trevon Bluiett led the way in scoring for Xavier with 14 points, while Graduate Transfer Kerem Kanter and guard Quentin Gooden finished close behind with 13.
The game began with back and forth offense from both teams as the squads started out hot shooting the ball. Both teams scored quick three-pointers including one from guard Quentin Gooden. Kerem Kanter followed up the effort with a layup and three-point shot of his own, making the score 10-8 in favor of St. Johnís only four minutes into the contest. A minute later, following a Xavier turnover by Freshman forward Naji Marshall, St. Johnís had improved the lead to 6 points.
St. Johnís opened up the game rebounding the ball well and played tough, scrappy defense, forcing Xavier to take tough shots. Xavier continued to shoot the ball well against the Red Storm, as they shot 6-15 (40%) from beyond the arc after setting their team high for three-pointers made against St. Johnís just two weeks ago. One of St. Johnís most impactful players, Bashir Ahmed, found himself in foul trouble early and was forced to watch most of the first half from the bench after committing 3 fouls in the first 11 minutes of play. St. Johnís aggressive play forced Xavier into the bonus with 9:22 left to play in the opening half.
After Xavier trailed 17-11 with 13:00 to play in the first half, the Muskies took off and never looked back, going on a 12-0 run, taking advantage of St. Johnís 11 missed shots during that span. St. Johnís was finally able to score with 8:00 left, but Senior guard J.P. Macura answered with a three-pointer of his own to make the score 26-20. The half ended with a 37-32 Xavier lead, as the Muskies shot 13-27.
The second half opened up with a spectacular behind the back-reverse layup from J.P. Macura. St. Johnís responded with a comeback early in the half, feeding off of the crowdís energy. Following a 7-0 run, the Red Storm led Xavier 45-43 with 15:30 left to play in the game. Following a timeout, Trevon Bluiett scored a baseline layup, making him the 3rd leading scorer all time in Xavier Menís Basketball history, as he now trails only David West and Byron Larkin. A quiet second half from both teams in scoring made for an interesting finish, as only 4 total points were scored in a four-minute span between 12:00-8:00 remaining.
Quentin Gooden hit a clutch corner three pointer to take a 59-56 lead late in the game, giving Xavier some much needed momentum. After a St. Johnís offensive rebound and layup, Forward Kaiser Gates returned the favor with a layup of his own, giving the Muskies a 3-point lead. Both teams traded three-pointers and foul shots. St. Johnís turned the ball over on a traveling violation with 15 seconds left to play in the game, allowing Xavier to stretch the lead with foul shots, resulting in a 73-68 win as the Muskies survived for their fifth straight win.
Xavier returns home on Saturday evening to Cintas Center as they take on Georgetown University. Tip-off is at 6:00pm.