There are 353 NCAA Division I teams. Entering the Charleston Classic opening game against Towson, Xavier was 352nd in the country in three point field goal percentage. While some of the Musketeers first 4 wins were rather unimpressive, the fact that they were undefeated while struggling to shoot well was a minor miracle.
After Thursday’s game, Xavier will no longer rate among the very worst three point shooting teams as the Musketeers shot 9-22 (40.9%) from deep in a rout of Towson. Led by r-Sr. guard Bryce Moore’s 3-6 from deep, seven Musketeers hit a three which matched the number of players who had hit a three in any of the first four games.
Perhaps more impressive than Xavier’s shooting was Xavier’s defense. While Xavier had throttled its first four opponents’ offenses, none of those teams rated efficiently or shot at an efficiency in the top half of the NCAA. The Musketeers held Towson, a team shooting a solid 34.6% from deep entering the game, to just 4-16 (25%) from deep. Xavier stifled Towson inside the arc as well, holding the Tigers to just 18-59 (30.5%).
Xavier held a safe lead for much of the contest. After holding Towson without a point for nearly an eight minute stretch in the first half, Xavier had a double digit lead for all but a minute and a half during the second half. Xavier’s 22-point win matched its largest lead of the game.
r-Jr. forward Jason Carter led the Musketeers with 13 points while grabbing nine rebounds. Senior forward Tyrique Jones had 12 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists for his second double-double of the season. Junior forward Naji Marshall tallied nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists but also had five turnovers as well.
The best player on the floor might have been junior guard Paul Scruggs. While his box score was impressive (11 points (5-7), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and three steals), Scruggs was relentless on the defensive end while playing in control when he had the ball.
Towson struggled to get much going all night so none of their players racked up large point totals or shot efficiently. Leading scorer Brian Fobbs scored 14 points but needed 14 shots to do so. An 0-4 day from downtown now means that a 36.7% 3PT shooter in 2018-19 is now 0-19 this year. Allen Betrand also took 14 shots and turned that into 12 points.
Xavier will move to the semifinals of the Charleston Classic, where they await UConn tomorrow night at 9:30 on ESPNU.