Gaffney and women’s basketball start season strong

By: Kyle Tooley ~Guest Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Zantt (15) was born in Chatan-Cho, Okinawa, Japan.

The Xavier women’s basketball team came out of the gates hot, posting a 4-1 record with its only loss coming from undefeated Michigan on the road.

It seems that with coach Brian Neal now able to firmly install his system in his second full season at the helm, the team is headed in the right direction.

Preseason All-Big East selection Raeshaun Gaffney, the redshirt junior out of Fairfield, Ohio, is leading the way for the Musketeers, with 11.5 points per game (ppg). She is followed closely by senior Aliyah Zantt, who is averaging 10 ppg.

The big story for the team during the first five games, however, has been the defense. This was showcased in the game against Southeastern Louisiana University, in which the team gave up a remarkably low 27 points.

The Musketeers are averaging five steals a game, which could provide a big spark when the team enters Big East play in a few weeks.

In the Newswire’s season preview of the team, we predicted that rebounding would be a big part of Musketeers’ game, and it definitely has been.

Throughout the young season, junior Leah Schaefer has already pulled in 34 rebounds to go along with redshirt freshman Imani Partlow’s 28.

To say the rebounding numbers have gone Xavier’s way this year would be an understatement. However, it will be difficult to continue to post those numbers, as the competition will only get more difficult.

To recap what’s happened so far, the Musketeers have posted 311 points in five games, with wins over Evansville, Maryland Eastern Shore, Southeastern Louisiana University and Binghamton.

The Musketeers have surrendered a modest 287 points, with that number a bit skewed due to the fact that Michigan posted 92 points in their matchup. But Michigan is a tough team that looks to have a lot of success this season, so a loss to them should not discourage this squad.

In the coming weeks, Xavier will meet up with Tennessee Tech, Middle Tennessee, Radford and, most notably, Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout game that will take place on Dec. 13 at Cintas.

Come out and support the team in those matchups, as they are all home games, and watch this team grow into the Big East contenders that they should be this season.