Xavier was hampered by another slow start in loss at Seton Hall Wednesday
By Joe Clark, Sports Page Editor
Xavier hit the road on Wednesday night after a disappointing home loss to DePaul. However, the road didn’t do the Musketeers much better, as Xavier fell to the Seton Hall Pirates 73-71.
At the under 12 media timeout, Seton Hall led 12-11, but from there they jumped out to a 22-13 lead in the next few minutes. It was another slow start for Xavier. The Musketeers were getting dominated inside, as they were outrebounded 17-11 in the game’s first 14 minutes. The Pirates imposed their will with center Ike Obiagu and forwards Tyrese Samuel and Jared Rhoden.
Xavier got early contributions from forward Jack Nunge, who had 12 of Xavier’s first 18 points. Nunge was efficient, shooting 5-7 to open the game. Seton Hall would extend their lead to 32-18 with just under four minutes left in the game on a three by guard Kadary Richmond.
Xavier cut the lead to seven and had a chance to cut it to five, but junior Zach Freemantle missed a layup and Seton Hall buried a three down the other end. Xavier went into the half trailing 37-27. Seton Hall only shot 38.9% in the first half, but the Pirates outrebounded Xavier 23-15 and forced 10 Musketeer turnovers.
Once again, Xavier went on a run coming out of the half. The Musketeers went on a 9-2 run to cut the Pirates lead to 39-36 and get right back in the game. The Musketeers cut the lead to one.
Freemantle fouled out after getting hit with a foul and then a technical after he tried to step over Seton Hall’s junior forward Tray Jackson. The technical gave Seton Hall two shots and the ball, and the ensuing free throws and possession extended Seton Hall’s lead to 46-40. At the under 12, Xavier was down 49-44.
With Xavier forced to play small, the Pirates went back to dominating inside and built a 55-45 lead with 9:52 to play. Freshman Cesare Edwards got his first action in Big East play. The freshman made quite the impact, with six points in his first six minutes.
Seton Hall had an answer for every Xavier run, and the Pirates held a 62-57 lead with 3:59 left in the game after a putback by senior Jared Rhoden. It was Seton Hall’s 14th offensive rebound of the night.
After a bucket by senior Paul Scruggs down the other end, Rhoden made a three and Seton Hall went up by eight after a Scruggs turnover.
Edwards answered with a finish down the other end. Xavier trailed by four after two free throws by sophomore Dwon Odom. Scruggs got fouled on a rebound with 54.7 seconds left and went to the line to try and make it a one-possession game. He made both, and the score was 67-65. Rhoden got fouled with 24.6 seconds left, and he made both free throws to put Seton Hall up by four.
Sophomore Colby Jones drove to the hoop and got fouled and finished the layup on Xavier’s next possession.
However, it was questionably ruled that the foul occurred before the shot, so Jones went to the line for two and made both. Xavier trailed 69-67 with 19.5 seconds left. Rhoden was fouled and he went 1-2 at the line.
The Musketeers had a chance to tie with the score 70-67 with 18.9 seconds left, but Jones missed an open three.
With 6.3 seconds left, the Pirates hung onto a 71-69 lead. Rhoden again went to the line for Seton Hall and went 1-2. Leading by three, Seton Hall fouled and Scruggs went to the stripe. He made both free throws (despite seemingly trying to miss the second), but Xavier deflected the inbounds pass. The refs went to the monitor to see if it was off Seton Hall, but it was ruled that it went out off Xavier.
Seton Hall got the inbounds in cleanly, and the game was essentially over. The Pirates went 1-2 at the line, and Scruggs’ three-quarters court heave at the buzzer was no good.
Xavier will hope that some home cooking will do them good, as they take on Connecticut on Friday night at Cintas Center. UConn comes to town fresh off a home win over Marquette.