By: Brent Raines ~Staff Writer~
Xavier women’s basketball dropped its only game of the week at Butler as the Bulldogs became the third Big East team to sweep the Musketeers this season.
The 71-53 defeat was another rough game for the Musketeers (15-12 overall, 7-9 Big East) who have failed to score more than 63 points in four games since they laid 91 on Marquette earlier this month.
For the Bulldogs (14-13, 10-6), the win is their second after losing their first four games of the month. They went a perfect 8-0 in January. The first half was a tight and well-contested affair with five ties and eight lead changes.
The Muskies held their biggest lead of the game on a three-pointer from junior guard Jenna Crittendon that put them up 17-14 with 5:51 left in the first half.
A short jumper by sophomore forward Maddison Blackwell in the paint gave the Musketeers a 21-20 advantage with about four minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the Musketeers, that would be the last time they held an advantage on the scoreboard as Butler closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a 31-24 lead at the break.
The second half was not kind to the Musketeers as Butler stretched out a 22-point lead, the largest of the game, with 2:58 left.
To add insult to injury, the Xavier bench was assessed a technical at the 7:07 mark. Junior guard Aliyah Zantt led Xavier with 14 points and six assists, while Crittendon added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Butler’s Ijeoma Uchendu led all players with 28 points. The senior forward from Nigeria also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were aided by a multitude of Xavier fouls and shot three times as many free throws as the Musketeers. They made most of them too, as they went 20-24 from the line while Xavier went just 5-8.
Both teams fired many shots from beyond the arc but neither team made many of them. The two teams shot a combined 11-44 from long-range, good for 25 percent.
The defeat also firmly puts the Musketeers in seventh place in the 10-team conference, with two or more games separating them from the teams both ahead and behind them in the conference standings.
With only a few games remaining for each team, DePaul (22-7, 14-3) currently leads the conference with Seton Hall (24-4, 13-3) following closely in second.
The Musketeers have two games left and must win both to finish at .500 in conference play.
While both are at home, they are against two teams seeking to become the fourth and fifth teams to sweep the Musketeers in Big East play.
The game against Seton Hall tips at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 in Cintas Center while the home game against St. John’s starts at 2 p.m. on March 1. Brian Neal’s squad lost at Seton Hall 78-54 in January, and seeks to avenge a 65-42 loss against St. John’s from early December.
The Seton Hall game has been designated as the annual Play4Kay game, with proceeds going to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund in honor of the former NC State and Team USA coach