Xavier laid it all on the line Wednesday night at Cintas Center, locked into a double overtime game with Marquette. For as strong as the effort was, it went to no avail in the win column.
The Musketeers had their opportunities but couldn’t seize the win in an 84-82 defeat. It was the first time Xavier scored more than 70 points in four games.
Sacar Anim hit a 3-point field goal to put Marquette up by three points with 34 seconds left in the second overtime to effectively seal the win for the Golden Eagles.
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams,” head coach Travis Steele said. “That’s a gut-wrenching loss for us … We got to keep improving, keep getting better.”
Xavier had some good looks with time waning down in the first overtime period, but the Musketeers were unable to net the game winner.
The Musketeers needed to make its free throws on a tough night from the stripe, but their inability to do so down the stretch hampered their chances of winning.
“We got to make free throws,” Steele said. “You can’t win any games in the Big East going 11 of 25 from the free throw line, period. We got to step us, knock those in … (We) can’t be mental about it, gotta be confident.”
Down by three with just seconds on the clock, Naji Marshall confidently pulled up from deep 3-point range and drilled it flawlessly to send the game to overtime.
With the nation’s leading scorer Markus Howard on the bench for the majority of the second half with an injury, the Golden Eagles’ offense was rendered relatively stagnant until the final minutes of regulation.
Senior point guard Quentin Goodin played like a leader in his return to action after missing the last two games with a minor knee injury.
“Overall, I thought we played really hard,” Goodin said, sitting at the podium wearing his heart on his sleeve. “I thought we gave Marquette everything we had. Left it all on the court.”
He attacked the rim and provided firepower from the outside while taking quality shots allowed him to score a team-best 19 points. That’s exactly the kind of smart play Steele expects from the four-year starter.
“I thought he did what the game told him to do, for the most part,” Steele said. “He made some really nice passes, he lived in the lane,I thought he got, for the most part, good 3’s, good looks. And he knocked them in.”
Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski offered high praise to Goodin saying, “Quentin Goodin, I think, probably had his best game of the season … I have not seen him play as well as he did tonight. He was absolutely phenomenal.”
Senior forward Tyrique Jones also made veteran plays and stepped up big. He was especially impactful on the interior, even if it was getting a hand on the ball to tap in a putback layup.
Jones finished with his 12th double-double of the season – 13 points and 15 rebounds.
A Xavier team that has struggled to curate consistent 3-point scoring had its best game from beyond the arc this season with a total of 11 3-point field goals.
Moving forward, the Musketeers face the Big East-leading Seton Hall Pirates on the road Saturday at a matinee start time of 11 a.m.