Xavier women’s basketball closed out its regular season with two home games against Villanova on Friday and Georgetown on Sunday.
Despite standout performances from sophomore forward A’riana Gray and sophomore guard Princess Stewart, Xavier dropped both games, losing 68-63 against Villanova and 67-64 to Georgetown.
Xavier jumped out to a 10-8 lead over Villanova early in the first quarter, but a 10-0 run by the Wildcats gave them the lead for good.
Xavier cut the Villanova lead to one with 2:58 left to go in the first half, but Villanova responded by scoring the final eight points of the half, including back-to-back threes by senior Adrianna Hahn, who finished with 11 points. Gray almost had a double-double at the half, with nine points and 11 rebounds en route to a 20-point, 21-rebound night.
In the third quarter, Xavier got the lead down to eight on the strength of an 8-1 run, but a Villanova three pointer pushed its lead back up to 11 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Musketeers went on another run to cut the Villanova lead, this time starting the fourth quarter on a 10-3 run to cut the deficit to three at 58-55. Back-to-back buckets by junior Kelly Jekot and senior Jannah Tucker (game-high 22 points) extended Villanova’s lead. A Xavier free throw and then a layup by Gray once again put Xavier within three points late in the third, but Villanova answered to make it a five-point game.
With 19 seconds left, Stewart scored for Xavier to get within one possession at 64-61. Xavier then fouled to try and get Villanova in the bonus. After the third foul, it got a steal off the inbound pass to give it possession and a chance to tie the game. However, with nine seconds left, the Musketeers were assessed a technical foul for calling a timeout they didn’t have, and Villanova made four free throws to seal the win. Gray, who had 13 points, finished in double figures alongside Stewart for Xavier.
Sunday was senior night for Xavier, and there was a pregame ceremony honoring academic senior Tierra Floyd and team manager Rhea Elcock. Just like the Villanova game, the Musketeers got off to a hot start, going on a 7-0 run to start the game and leading 15-8 after the first quarter. Stewart had eight first quarter points of her own, highlighted by two threes on a day in which she would score a career-high 21 points. Xavier allowed the Hoyas to make just one field goal in the first quarter.
Georgetown started the second quarter on a 7-3 run to cut the lead to 18-15. Later in the half, with Xavier leading 21-18, senior Dionna White (game-high 23 points) had back-to-back steals leading to layups to put Georgetown up 22-21 at the half. Georgetown got its lead up to 40-30 with 3:41 left in the quarter, but a 10-4 Xavier run that included a half-court buzzer beater by junior Tee Owens (13 points) cut the Hoyas’ lead to 44-40.
With 2:48 left in the game, Xavier took its first lead of the second half at 54-53 following a pair of made free throws by sophomore guard Aaliyah Dunham, who scored 14 points in the game. A putback and then a steal and a layup by Georgetown gave it the lead back, but Xavier battled back and took a 62-61 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Hoyas were clutch at the free throw stripe late, as they went six for eight at the line to score their final six points. With Georgetown up 67-64 in the final seconds, Xavier had a chance to tie the game up on their final possession, but the Musketeers failed to score a basket as time expired. Along with Stewart, Owens and Dunham, Gray was also in double figures for the Musketeers with 10 points.
With the pair of losses, Xavier’s record fell to 11-18 (2-16 Big East). The Musketeers season continues in the Big East Tournament, which they’ll enter as the No. 10 seed. Xavier will face the No. 7 seed Providence on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
By: Joe Clark | Staff Writer