Xavier duels Butler, grounds Jays

Quentin Goodin’s last-second free throws seal a wild victory over Creighton

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Sophomore point guard Quentin Goodin came up clutch in Xavier’s 72-71 win over Creighton last Saturday. He was fouled with less than a second left in the game and sank both free throws to give Xavier the win.

Winning Time. This expression has defined Xavier men’s basketball so far this season, and last week was no exception.

Needing to win at two of the toughest places to play in the Big East, Butler and Creighton, the team knew that it was going to take everything it had.

Thanks to timely shots and clutch performances, these wins were secured, and the Musketeers swept a pair of away games.

The two-game road trip began last Tuesday night in Hinkle Fieldhouse when Xavier took on Butler.

If the Musketeers were going to come out with a win, they were going to need to take the raucous Bulldog crowd off it early.

In the first 10 minutes, Xavier did just that. Going on a 25-2 run, Xavier was up 29-11 at the 10-minute mark.

Powered by the big man duo of Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara, as well as some threes by Trevon Bluiett, Xavier was in firm control.

But as the half winded down, Butler began to slowly chip away at the lead. With the help of Kelan Martin, who ended the game with 34 points, the Bulldogs entered the half down only 10 points, 30-40.

Coming out of the half, Butler was a team on a mission. Within the first six minutes of the half, Butler outscored Xavier 22-10 and jumped out to a 52-50 lead.

However, this didn’t deter Xavier. Even though Butler had both the crowd and momentum on its side, veterans like Bluiett and Kanter didn’t falter.

With the Musketeers matching every shot and run the Bulldogs made, the game headed into overtime after neither team could get the decisive bucket in regulation.

Going into overtime with the game tied 84-84, freshman Naji Marshall put Xavier ahead immediately with a three-pointer.

From that three on, Xavier didn’t look back. Courtesy of a deep three from Bluiett in Winning Time, the Musketeers put the dagger in the Bulldogs.

With a final score of 98-93, Xavier was ready to leave Indianapolis and shift its attention to its next matchup in Omaha.

Waiting at the CenturyLink Center were the Creighton Blue Jays. With Creighton being led by talented players in Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas, Xavier knew to expect an even bigger challenge than Butler provided just a few nights before.

Similar to the game against Butler, Xavier was in firm control for most of the first half.

Thanks to Quentin Goodin and Kanter (yet again), Xavier entered the half with a 43-35 lead. The Musketeers knew, however, this lead would not last if they came out cold to start the second half.

Coming out of the half, Xavier maintained its scoring until Creighton went on an 8-0 run to take a 55-54 lead at the under-12 timeout. From then on, the two teams traded baskets until the end of the game.

O’Mara came up huge down the stretch, contributing great minutes that involved scoring and rebounding. But when Creighton took the lead off free throws with four seconds remaining, things looked bleak for Xavier.

After receiving an inbound pass, Goodin went coast to coast and drove down the lane looking for the winning layup.

While going up for the layup, he was fouled with 0.03 on the clock. He needed to make at least one free throw to send the game to overtime and two for the win.

Despite the enormous pressure to determine the outcome of the game, Goodin remained poised during the situation.

“After I made the first one, I knew the second one was going in,” Goodin said after the game. “I have that much confidence in myself.”

The sophomore point guard came through by sinking both free throws, propelling Xavier to a 72-71 win.

The Musketeers now control their own destiny for the Big East regular season championship.

They look to continue their quest for the Big East title tonight at Cintas Center against Seton Hall and Saturday afternoon against Villanova.

By: Colin Cooper ~Staff Writer~