Women’s team youth-laden

Photo courtesy of Doug Cochran | Forward A’riana Gray is a standout freshman for the Xavier women’s basketball team. She currently leads the team in rebounding with 5.7 rebounds per game. Xavier has the most freshmen on its roster in the Big East.

There have been some growing pains for the women’s basketball team this season, but there are reasons to be optimistic as the squad continues with conference play.

After finishing with a solid record of 7-4 in the non-conference schedule, the Musketeers opened Big East play with a decisive 69-62 victory over Butler on a nationally televised game before New Years. 2018 has been a struggle for a team that is extremely young, having not yet won a game since the calendar flipped.

Sunday’s loss to Marquette in Milwaukee was the last travel experience for Xavier for the next few weeks, as the team will stay in Cincinnati until it goes to Seton Hall to start the month of February.

Imani Partlow, who was out for an extended period of time with an injury, leads the team at nearly 11 points per game, and A’riana Gray is the team’s leading rebounder at 5.7 rebounds per game.

Xavier relies heavily on the distance jumper, as 143 of their 385 made field goals have come from beyond the arc. They shoot the three-ball well, at a 34 percent clip.

Only Villanova has more underclassmen, 10, than the Musketeers do at nine. Additionally, Xavier’s roster features six true freshmen, which is the most in the conference.

Prior to their most recent game against Marquette, those underclassmen have played more than 60 percent of the team’s available minutes this season.

Xavier was picked to finish 10th in the Big East, and even though it currently sits in ninth, there is reason to look to the horizon for positive outcomes.

First, consider that statistic about the number of minutes underclassmen are earning. That kind of consistency will allow head coach Brian Neal to work with the same group of players for the next couple of years as he continues to implement his system and build the program.

One of those freshmen, Jordyn Dawson, was the 2016 West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year in high school. The results may not be showing yet, but there is plenty to come as this program evolves.

The women’s team plays next on Friday at Cintas Center against the Providence Friars. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~