By Nick McGill
The men’s basketball team came out on top in Xavier’s season opener against the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. The 83-59 victory was a satisfactory result for fans that filed into Cintas Center to get their first look at the 2013-14 Musketeers.
Xavier fans faithfully remained on their feet much longer than what they would have hoped for the beginning of the game, as it is tradition to not take a seat until the Musketeers score their first basket.
Xavier had a slow start, falling into a 7-0 hole before scoring its first basket after five minutes of play on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Semaj Christon.
It wasn’t until the midway point of the first half on a layup by senior forward Isaiah Philmore that the Musketeers attained their first lead of the game.
Due to the Bulldog’s sloppy play and Xavier’s impressive defense, the Musketeers were able to put together some runs and finish the first half with a 41-22 lead.
At the half Xavier defense held the Bulldogs to 30.8 percent (8-26) shooting from the field, while the offense shot an above-average 50 percent (12-24) from the field including 57.1 percent (4-7) from the 3-point line.
Xavier kept a commanding lead the entire second half, never allowing Gardner-Webb within 14 points. Using a balanced attack, many of the Musketeers contributed to the scoring attack and impressive defense.
After extending the lead even further, Christon threw an alley-oop to freshman forward Jalen Reynolds, who threw down a powerful two-handed dunk to put an exclamation point on the Musketeer-dominated game.
Once expanding the lead to 29 points, Xavier finished the game victoriously with a final score of 83-59 in the season opener.
Top performers included junior center Matt Stainbrook, who recorded his first double-double at Xavier scoring 14 points and gathering 12 rebounds.
Christon recorded 13 points, four assists and three rebounds and freshman guard Brandon Randolph had a big performance in his first game with 12 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
Joining these three with double-digit scoring was sophomore forward James Farr, who tallied 10 points.
As a team, Xavier shot well from the field and great from 3-point range, but its free throw shooting was abysmal. The Musketeers made only 22 of 40 attempts from the line (55 percent).
Had the game been close, perhaps this would have been the difference maker in the outcome of the game.
However, Xavier seemed to dominate nearly every statistical category having 29 bench points and winning the rebound battle 45-27.
The defense seemed to be impenetrable as the Bulldogs shot 40.4 percent (21-52) while recovering six offensive rebounds.
Ultimately, Xavier came out on top in the most important statistic: scoring more points than the opposition.This performance by the Musketeers is a promising start to the season.
Although the team still has much work to do, fans should be excited about its current position as coach Mack and the Musketeers head into the thickets of an exciting non-conference schedule and build off previous success.