Xavier lost its road game to Providence Wednesday night 80-74, dropping to 19-11 on the season and 8-9 in league play. Paul Scruggs was out this game due to a leg injury. The Musketeers never led, but they were able to keep the game close throughout the second half.
Xavier did not get off to a good start, turning the ball over multiple times in the opening minutes before eventually trailing 22-8 just seven minutes into the game.
The Musketeers managed to get the deficit under double-digits twice, but Providence managed to go up by 15, 33-18, with 7:49 until halftime. Providence remained up by double-digits nearly the rest of the half, but Xavier was able to trail just nine, 47-38, at halftime.
Providence scored to start the second half, but Xavier used a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four, 49-45, and managed to stay within six points the rest of the way.
Xavier got within one score several times in the remaining 17:31, but could never quite get over the hump and take the lead. They only trailed by one, 75-74, with 1:39 remaining, but a Providence three and two free throws allowed the Friars to seal the 80–74 win over Xavier.
Naji Marshall led the way for Xavier, scoring 25 points while also grabbing six rebounds.
The freshman duo of Zach Freemantle and KyKy Tandy combined for 24 points, with Freemantle scoring 13 and Tandy scoring 11. Freemantle also had seven rebounds and Tandy had two steals.
Tyrique Jones had nine points and nine rebounds, while Quentin Goodin had eight points and four assists.
So Close, Yet So Far
Xavier pulled within one score of Providence nearly ten times in the second half, but never could quite get into the lead. They trailed by only one point with a minute and a half to go, but a dagger three by Providence guard Luwane Pipkins with 1:11 to go effectively sealed the game.
The hole Xavier got into early was just too deep. Providence led by double-digits most of the half, and it was only in the final four minutes Xavier really got the deficit under 10 points. Xavier had the deficit down to seven in the final ten seconds in the first half, before fouling Alpha Diallo on a three with under three seconds until half.
It was a close game for Xavier, and they were nearly able to erase the early mistakes, but just didn’t totally get there.
Freemantle, Tandy Provide Nice Boost
Freemantle and Tandy combined for 24 points against Providence, and were the only players besides Marshall, reach double-figures in scoring. So far in conference play, the two are averaging more than 14 points per game.
They’ve played key roles so far. Freemantle made three big plays down the stretch in the road win against St. John’s, including finishing a game winning layup off a pass from Marshall.
Tandy scored 18 in a home win over Georgetown and has averaged more than 10 points per game in Xavier’s eight Big East wins.
Having two young players perform as well as these two have, is undoubtedly one of the toughest conferences in the country, will get fans excited about their futures. But with one more regular-season game before the postseason, their biggest impact this season could be yet to come.