Thanks to 20-plus point performances from Trevon Bluiett, Edmond Sumner and J.P. Macura, the #6 Xavier Musketeers held off a spirited fight from the visiting Marquette Golden Eagles to win 90-82 and stay second in the Big East Conference. The Golden Eagles led by as much as seven with less then ten minutes to play, but found themselves unable to spring the upset.
Back and forth early on
The two teams traded early blows, and saw the lead swing back and forth over the game's first minutes. However, with the score tied after the first six minutes, Xavier embarked on the game's first run and quickly opened up a seven point lead, holding a 19-12 advantage.
Marquette responded, and ripped off their own 17-1 scoring spurt. The Golden Eagles had quickly gotten hot from behind the arc, and gutted the 1-3-1 zone which had given them such problems when these two met back in Milwaukee. Key jumpers from Haanif Cheatham, Duane Wilson and Sandy Cohen had Musketeers head coach Chris Mack worried enough to stop the game with a timeout.
Xavier closes the gap
Down nine points, the Musketeers remembered that they are in fact a top ten team in the country. Sumner scored seven of Xavier's next 12 points, and cut the deficit to three points. From that point on, the two teams went tit for tat for the rest of the first half before Marquette headed into the break with a 39-35 lead.
Level raised for the second half
In the second period, the two teams each stepped up their play. Marquette, as they have all season, raised their own game to the level of their opposition. Freshman phenom Henry Ellenson did nothing to harm his reputation as one of the top youngsters in the country, and hit some clutch shots as the Golden Eagles opened up a seven point lead with nine minutes and change on the clock.
Xavier battled back, and knotted the game back up within the next two minutes. They pulled ahead before finding themselves ahead by four points, only to have the indomitable Golden Eagles unwilling to give in. Marquette pulled back even, and they went to the game's final media timeout even at 72-72.
Clutch shooting, turnovers decide the game
As is often said, good teams know how to win. Xavier showed that they knew how to win over the final four minutes on Saturday. Some key shooting from Macura, Bluiett and Myles Davis salted the game away for the Musketeers as Marquette turned the ball over three times in the final four minutes.
Marquette was lead by a 22 point, seven rebound performance from Ellenson and a 21 point performance from Cheatham. However, it was not enough and they dropped to 15-9 (4-7 Big East). They'll have to try and regroup before the Providence Friars pay them a visit on Wednesday night.
Xavier got stellar performances from Bluiett, who posted 23 points and both Macura and Sumner, who had 20 each. The victory sees the Musketeers improve to 21-2 (9-2 Big East), and will now get ready for a trip to Creighton on Tuesday night.