By: Ryan O’Toole ~Staff Writer~
Coming off tough home losses to Villanova and Butler, the Xavier women’s basketball team headed to Creighton to try to gain some ground back in the Big East standings.
The game featured each team jockeying for the lead, gaining ground and relinquishing it just as quickly.
The Bluejays combined clutch shooting with crafty play to fend off the Musketeers.
Each time Xavier made a run, Creighton found a way to turn the contest back in its favor.
After opening the game on an 11-2 tear, Xavier responded with a run of its own, shooting six of seven during the span.
Creighton came right back with a 22-5 run, and even when Xavier took a lead with 6 minutes remaining, the Bluejays kept their cool and put the game away.
They made four of five field goals and four of four free throws in crunch time to make sure the Musketeers never got too close. Creighton would go on to win the game, 74-65.
Sophomore forward Brianna Rollerson was huge for the Jays, scoring 22 points on an efficient 9-of-14 shooting night.
Xavier did not have an answer for Rollerson, who dominated in the post.
The Muskies walked out of the game in desperate need of a victory with a 4-6 conference record.
Xavier then traveled to Providence, R.I. to face the Providence Friars.
Led by the 3-point shooting of freshman guard Erica Dawson, the Musketeers kept things close the entire contest in front of the Friar’s strong home crowd.
With the game knotted at 53 in the second half, Xavier took off on a 12-0 run.
Senior guard Maleeka Kynard scored 8 points in the run, showing why she was sought out by Xavier recruiters and scouts.
“She’s a versatile playmaker on offense and on the other end, she’s a pressure defender who (raises) our level dramatically,” head coach Brian Neal said of Kynard.
Her pressure flustered the Friars, causing them to lose their composure and eventually fall out of the game.
The Musketeers came away with a crucial 68-57 home victory and a chance at keeping their tourney hopes alive.
As the season progresses, leaders continue to emerge on the court for the Musketeers.
Kynard continues to be a dominating presence always capable of making a big play.
Junior guard Jenna Crittendon has also shown her experience in being a vocal leader for the Musketeers.
The Ohio State transfer did not waste time proving to Musketeer fans that she is the real deal.
Xavier will next host Marquette at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 at Cintas Center.
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