Jared Bynum hits a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to beat the Musketeers in Cintas
By Joe Clark, Sports Editor
After losing at Marquette on Sunday, the No. 21 Xavier Musketeers were unable to bounce back, losing a soul crusher to the No. 17 Providence Friars 65-62.
Redshirt junior Jared Bynum (16 points) hit a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to lift the Friars. Graduate student Al Durham led the Friars with 22 points. Xavier was led by 16 points from senior guard Paul Scruggs and 15 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Jack Nunge.
It was yet another slow start for Xavier, as Providence took a 12-3 lead four minutes into the first half. After a layup by Bynum, Providence took a 26-12 lead with under eight minutes to go in the first half.
“Providence did a great job from the start of the game,” Nunge said. “they brought a lot of energy, they hit some shots early and we didn’t, and I think that’s why we were behind early.”
Xavier just did not look good early. The Muskies were shooting 6-19 and 1-8 from three-point range at the under-eight minute media timeout.
“Our execution levels have to be better,” Xavier Head Coach Travis Steele said.
Meanwhile, the Friars were 10-19 and 4-4 from the perimeter and had already gotten 12 points out of Durham. Xavier cut the Providence lead to eight after two free throws by Scruggs with 4:32 left in the first half.
A three by Nunge right before the halftime buzzer cut Xavier’s deficit to six, with the Friars leading 35-29. Durham and Bynum led the Friars with 12 and 11 points, respectively while Nunge was really the Musketeers’ only source of offense, with 13 points and five rebounds.
The biggest problem for Xavier was their offense, as they shot just 35% from the field in the first half and 20% from three-point range. Providence also seemed to want it more, as they beat Xavier to almost every 50-50 ball.
Xavier came out much hungrier in the second half. Four straight points by junior forward Zach Freemantle brought Xavier to within two at 35-33, but two free throws by Durham extended the Providence lead back to four points. Later in the half, sophomore forward Colby Jones tickled the twine from three, but Providence graduate forward Justin Minaya answered right back to give the Friars a 44-38 lead.
A tough finish by sophomore guard Alyn Breed followed by a free throw put Providence up 7 at 47-40. At the under-eight timeout, Providence led 53-49 behind 18 points from Durham and 10 points and six rebounds off the bench by senior forward Ed Croswell.
A layup by Scruggs brought Xavier to within two, and then Nunge got a block on Durham, and Freemantle finished down the other end to tie it up at 53 with 6:11 left. Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley took a timeout to try and stop the Xavier momentum swing.
It worked, and the Friars took a three-point lead on a made three by graduate forward Noah Horchler. A questionable foul call against Jones sent Durham to the line, and he hit the front end of the one-and-one before making the second to give Providence a 60-55 lead with 4:22 to play.
A Jones dunk brought Xavier within a point at 60-59, and an ensuing stop gave them a chance to take the lead. Scruggs was blocked by Croswell, but it went out of bounds and Xavier kept possession. Off the inbounds, Xavier didn’t get a good look and settled for a Freemantle turnaround that was no good.
A foul call against Scruggs sent Watson to the line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end, but Providence got the offensive rebound.
After a Providence turnover, Scruggs put Xavier ahead with a three and the Musketeers took a 62-60 lead, their first lead since 2-0.
Durham got fouled down the other end and hit both free throws, leaving the game all tied up at 62 with 36.6 seconds left. Scruggs’ layup went in-and-out, and then Bynum hit the game-winning three with 1.5 seconds left. Providence walked out of Cintas with a 65-62 road win.
Xavier (14-5) will look to snap their two-game losing streak with a trip to Omaha on Saturday to take on the Creighton Bluejays at CHI Health Center. Creighton is coming off a 77-52 loss against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Check out this photo gallery for a snapshot of Wednesday’s game.