Gray & Dunham lift Xavier past Utah, Musketeers rally in the fourth quarter
By Aleya Justison | Staff Writer
Coaching in her first game at the helm of Xavier, Melanie Moore and the women’s basketball team emerged victorious at Cintas Center with a 70-63 win against Utah last Thursday.
Trailing by two points to begin the fourth quarter, the Musketeers outscored the Utes 23-14 to claim a win in their season opener.
Right from the start, Xavier brought the heat with a 21-15 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore guard Carrie Gross sank a 3-pointer at the two-minute mark to give the Musketeers a lead in the first frame of the game.
By halftime, however, Utah rose to the occasion, taking a slight 29-28 advantage. Junior forward A’riana Gray led the Musketeers as the top scorer at the break, earning seven points.
She started the season off strong, ending the game with her first double-double of the season, collecting 14 points while snatching a team-high 14 rebounds. It was the 17th double-double of her Xavier career.
Utah came out strong in the second half, but Xavier wasn’t ready to bow out just yet. Even with their largest lead of the game in the third quarter, the Utes struggled to maintain the advantage. Xavier caught up with eight unanswered points, ultimately regaining the lead on a free throw by junior guard Aaliyah Dunham.
Utah led to start the fourth quarter, 49-47, but Gray mounted yet another comeback and brought Xavier back on an 11-4 run that Utah wasn’t able to overturn for the rest of the game.
The game stayed close for the remaining minutes. Overall, the game saw seven ties and 11 lead changes.
Sophomore guard Lauren Wasylson, who scored 11 total points, aided in the fourth-quarter comeback by netting eight points.
Dunham finished with a team-high 16 points, which tied her career high: a feat she’s accomplished five times before. Freshman forward Courtney Prenger had a solid debut with 11 points, including a trio of 3-point field goals. The Musketeers outrebounded the Utes 44-36 and dominated on the inside with 34 points in the paint.
The Moore era at Xavier got off to a fine start, and the Musketeers kept their streak alive as they improved their record to 20-0 on season openers at Cintas Center.