Musketeers Drop Road Contest at Seton Hall
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier struggled again in the first half-trailing Seton Hall 37-27 at the break and lost 73-71 to the Pirates in Newark Wednesday. The 1st 17 minutes were nightmarish! Muskies were down 14 heading into the final war. Only Jack Nunge(12 points) had played decently. Then Paul Scruggs embarked on a personal 7 point run-chopped the SHU lead to 7 and XU forced a turnover. They muffed the fast break. Seton Hall drained a "3" and it was a 10 point Hall lead after 20 minutes. X was lucky to be that close.
SH ripped XU on the glass 23-15 w/ 10 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points. X turned it over 10 times. Nunge and Scruggs scored 21 of 27 points. The offense seemed aimless. Then Xavier just flipped the switch!!
Zach Freemantle found his game after missing his 1st 6 FG tries around the rim. He scored 4-defended and boxed out. Scruggs just took over-attacking the rim-hawking the ball(21 points-7 assists-7 boards-3 steals) and he missed some critical 2nd half time after bumping knees. Colby Jones played an inspired floor game-taking charges-diving-drawing fouls. So did Dwon Odom!! X cut it to 41-40 w/ 14 to play.
SHU made a lay-up to go ahead 43-40. Scruggs misfired on a couple shots. SH cleared the rebound. Zach Freemantle was grabbed and pushed out of rebound position. He stumbled over Trey Jackson. They got tangled up. Free stepped over him off balance. Initially a double foul was called. OK 4th personal on Zach. After a lengthy video review, the zebras tagged Freemantle w/ a Flagrant 1. His 5th foul equaling ejection and two SHU FTs.
The F1 was not warranted IMHO. The TV guys theorized that Zach was taunting. Jackson stuck out his leg. Free lost his balance. He'd just been grabbed.
X was forced to go small and Seton Hall expanded their lead to 55-45 posting up their BIGS away from Nunge. Ball game over? Not so fast!!
Travis Steele subbed in #4 Frosh BIG Cesare Edwards-playing his 1st BIG EAST minutes against a HUGE EXPERIENCED Pirate power group. Cesare drew a foul-air balled a "3" then made 4 of 4 inside the arc-a couple of those over 7-2 Ike Obiagu (NCAA's leading shot blocker). Edwards boxed out and defended hard. It's a silver lining in a tough defeat. Travis now has quality depth on the block.
X got into the FT bonus early but left a ton of points at the foul line. Colby Jones missed a wide open "3" w/ 20 ticks left that would have tied it. X did climb out of a deep hole vs an NCAA bound team on the road.
Muskies fall to 16-7, 6-6 BIG EAST-tied for 6th w/ Seton Hall. Places 3 thru 6 are closely packed-UConn(7-4) Marquette(8-5) Creighton(6-5) XU and SHU(6-6).
Muskies host UConn Friday at Cintas(7 PM-FS1) in a high stakes shootout. UConn played Tuesday. X has a quick NCAA Tournament-esque 46 hour turn around.
Travis now has another proven chess piece in #4 Cesare Edwards and he's earned a battle field promotion performing well under fire.