By: Tim Wilmes
While most of us went back home or visited family over Winter Break, Xavier’s men’s and women’s basketball players were competing against tough opponents and opening up their Big East conference schedules.
If you couldn’t watch the games due to traveling or lack of network access, or if you decided to watch Netflix all break, don’t worry: here’s a quick recap to help you catch up on what you might have missed in the world of Xavier sports.
The men’s basketball team posted a remarkable 5-1 record (3-1 Big East) over Winter Break and had in fact won eight straight games dating back to Dec. 7 before falling to Creighton in Omaha, Neb. on Sunday.
The Musketeers’ stellar play has been marked by a few key themes over this six game stretch. First, Xavier has shown incredible resilience in big games since defeating Cincinnati in the Crosstown Classic.
After being down throughout the first half of games at Alabama and Creighton and against St. John’s, Butler and Marquette, the Musketeers have shown mental toughness in their ability to take the strong attack of the opponent’s offense, stay true to their game plan and rally in the second half with premier basketball. Even in XU’s loss to Creighton, the Musketeers stayed resilient in the face of a Blue Jays offense that went 14-28 from the three-point line and superstar Doug McDermott’s 35 points by putting up 89 points, the most points the team has scored in a game all year.
The second big takeaway from Xavier’s games over break was the stellar performances from sophomore star guard Semaj Christon, junior guard Dee Davis and redshirt junior forward Justin Martin.
All three players seem to be playing up to their potentials, especially when the Musketeers need a big shot down the stretch.
Against Marquette, Martin and Davis hit big three-pointers to pull ahead of the Golden Eagles, while Christon made two three-pointers in the last four minutes and finished with a career-high 28 points.
The women’s basketball team struggled to find consistency, going 2-4 (2-2 Big East) over Winter Break.
While they posted some impressive victories at home against St. John’s and Georgetown, the Musketeers were crushed by rival Cincinnati 47-26 and lost some close games against Indiana and Marquette at Cintas Center. While Xavier always seems to have a fighting chance at home, going 5-4 at Cintas, the Muskies are 2-5 outside of Cincinnati and have lost these five games by an average of 20.2 points.
In the Musketeers’ first-ever Big East victory, senior guard Shatyra Hawkes led the way with 20 points while freshman forward Leah Schaefer added 13 points and four rebounds, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Similarly, in Xavier’s next game against Georgetown, senior guard Ashley Wanninger helped lead the team to a 85-68 win with a career-high 26 points and tying a career high with five three-pointers.
If XU hopes to stay competitive in the Big East, Hawkes and Wanninger must keep putting up good numbers with solid help from the younger role players on the team. Currently, Xavier sits in sixth place in the Big East conference.