Bright spots remain for the Musketeers as winless season in the Big East continues
By Justin Malone, Staff Writer
After a disappointing performance against a competitive No. 4 UConn team last Thursday, Xavier women’s basketball showed improvements in their road loss against St. John’s on Sunday.
Xavier suffered a 73-36 defeat at home against one of the best teams in the country in UConn. The Musketeers were outpaced early in the game, as the Huskies raced out to a 12-2 lead to begin the first half. The Huskies’ offensive firepower allowed them to never look back from their lead, going up by as much as 41 points in the fourth quarter.
Graduate guard Taylor Smith led the way for Xavier, posting a team-high 13 points, two rebounds and one block, marking her 19th career double-figure scoring game.
Senior forward Nila Blackford also had a career milestone, as she joined the 1,000-point club by recording four points, a team-high eight rebounds, two blocks, one assist and a game-high four steals.
Xavier’s offensive woes in the loss emanated from a smothering Huskies defense, who only allowed the Musketeers to shoot a season-low 21.5% from the field, including 19.2% on three pointers and outrebounded Xavier 56-27.
Impressively, the Musketeers’ defense forced 22 turnovers and produced 10 steals against a fierce Huskies offense, which was Xavier’s fifth game of the year with 10 or more steals and the second-most turnovers by UConn in a game this season.
On the road, Xavier put together a stronger performance in a 71-52 loss to St. John’s. The game was back-and-forth throughout the first half, as the Musketeers were only down by one point with 4:24 remaining in the second quarter. However, the Red Storm offense invigorated before the break, initiating a 10-4 run to take a seven-point lead at the end of the half.
The Red Storm built upon their efforts in the third quarter, outscoring the Musketeers 24-12 to take a 19-point lead that Xavier could not regain, despite their resilient efforts.
The bright spots for the Musketeers included junior guard Mackayla Scarlett, who recorded 18 points, four rebounds and eight assists while going eight-for-10 from the free throw line in her 23rd career game in double figures;, Smith who finished with 10 points, two rebounds and a block;, and freshman guard Fernanda Ovalle who added seven points and four rebounds.
Although Xavier had trouble shooting from the field again going 34.5% overall, they went 10-for-16 on free throws and scored six more points in the paint than St. John’s.
With the two defeats, Xavier dropped to 7-9 overall and skidded to 0-6 in Big East conference play. From their victories, UConn ascended to 13-2 on the season and 6-0 in the Big East, while St. John’s improved to 14-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference.
The Musketeers hope to rebound from their recent struggles against Providence this morning at 11 a.m. in Rhode Island.