By: Kyle Tooley ~Sports Editor~
After stringing together four straight wins following the season- ending knee injury to redshirt sophomore point guard Edmond Sumner, the Xavier men’s basketball team fell to the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats on Saturday by a score of 73-57.
The defeat at the hands of the defending national champions may not have been the largest hit that the Musketeers took that day, either, as leading scorer junior Trevon Bluiett exited the contest with an ankle injury. Bluiett had been dealing with the injury for a few games but seemed to “roll over it” against Villanova, according to head coach Chris Mack.
Bluiett initially went to the locker room and got his ankle taped up. After returning to the game for a few possessions, it was obvious that he was having trouble staying mobile. Villanova went right at him every time it had the ball, making him a liability on defense.
Bluiett told the coaches that the pain was too mighty, and he sat for the remainder of the game. He finished with a seasonlow 19 minutes on 0-3 shooting and four turnovers. It was the first scoreless outing of his college career.
Xavier couldn’t get anything going offensively after Bluiett’s exit, shooting a lowly 35 percent from the floor. This included 28 percent from distance and added to a 52 percent outing at the charity stripe.
Freshman point guard Quentin Goodin struggled from the onset, going 1-14 from the field. He posted a few highlightreel assists but had trouble finishing at the rim.
The star for the Musketeers was senior RaShid Gaston, who led the team in points and rebounds. Gaston’s 23-10 outing was his fifth double-double of the season.
Questions surround Coach Mack’s rotation moving forward, as the losses of senior guard Myles Davis and Sumner had already put Xavier in a difficult position.
If Bluiett misses time with his ankle injury, walk-on -turned-scholarship player Tim Stainbrook, a senior and the brother of Xavier great Matt Stainbrook, could see an increased role.
If Mack opts to stay with his current rotation, multiple guards and wings could be asked to play most of the game, if not the entire contest.
Xavier would be left with two players coming off the bench, Gaston and junior Sean O’Mara, both of whom solely play the center position.
The Musketeers begin a three-game road trip against the Providence Friars this evening. They return home on Feb. 26 to take on the Butler Bulldogs.