Muskies Escape Seton Hall Comeback
By Brandon Eckman, 2/14/2018

The No. 4 ranked Xavier Men’s Basketball team improved their record to 24-3 on Thursday night as they defeated Seton Hall 102-90 in front of the Musketeer faithful at Cintas Center. Senior guard Trevon Bluiett led the way in scoring for the Muskies with 37 points and attempted only one 2-point field goal all night. The Musketeers were able to survive large runs by Seton Hall in the second half on the way to their ninth straight win. The Musketeers remain unbeaten at home this season as they send Seton Hall home with a 17-9 record following their 7th BIG EAST loss.

The game began with an offensive rebound by Seton Hall, though they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Senior guard Trevon Bluiett opened up the game in scoring with an off-balance three-pointer, which he would do five times in the opening half for Xavier. J.P. Macura followed up the effort with a missed NBA-range three-pointer, and on the next possession, Freshman forward Naji Marshall grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for a score. Trevon Bluiett then shot and made yet another off-balance three-pointer to give the Musketeers a 15-6 lead. Bluiett led scoring in the first half with 15 points, making 5-6 three-point shots.

Xavier attempted to get an inside presence going in the first half, feeding the ball to Sean O’Mara. O’Mara struggled initially on his first two possessions on the court coming off the bench, as he recorded a turnover and a missed shot. The third possession, however, O’Mara finished a drop step dunk with authority, electrifying the crowd. He finished the half 2-3 on field goal attempts.

Xavier struggled with rebounding in the first half, giving up 8 offensive rebounds to Seton Hall. About half of those rebounds turned into scoring opportunities for Seton Hall, who played physically on the defensive side of the ball but struggled to make shots due to a strong defensive effort from the Musketeers. Xavier shot exceptionally well in the first half, going 17-30 on field goal attempts (57%) and shooting 9-17 from beyond the arc (53%). The half ended with an off-balance three-point shot by guard Quentin Gooden at the buzzer which was then called off by the officials after both teams returned to their locker rooms. The Muskies held a 45-25 lead.

The second half started out with 4 unanswered points scored by Seton Hall. Naji Marshall then opened the scoring for Xavier with a tough finish through contact on the right block to make the score 47-29. Seton Hall recorded a 14-5 run to begin the second half, cutting the Xavier lead to 11. Naji Marshall hit a three-pointer to put the Muskies up by a score of 53-39, and Trevon continued his streaky shooting with a made three of his own the next possession.

Despite Xavier’s success shooting the ball, Seton Hall was able to make a comeback after being down 20 points at the end of the first half. The second half was plagued with fouls, as both teams ended up in the bonus very early. The slow-moving half also included four technical fouls, 3 on Seton Hall and 1 on Xavier’s Sean O’Mara. The teams traded buckets back and forth for some time before another Seton Hall run cut the Xavier lead to 9 points. Seton Hall came within 6 points when Senior J.P. Macura hit a clutch three-point shot with 1:30 remaining to make the lead 9 once again. Seton Hall forced Xavier to make free-throws, and Chris Mack’s disciplined team stepped up when needed. The game ended with a final score of 102-90.

The Musketeers are back in action in a huge BIG EAST matchup on Saturday as they take on No. 3 Villanova at Cintas Center. The game is set to begin at 4:30.

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