The Xavier Musketeers will be playing in the Charleston Classic championship round Sunday afternoon against Florida after outlasting future Big East foe UConn, 75-74.
The game was ugly and marred by horrendous refereeing, so it was a lot like a Big East contest.
The teams traded leads throughout the game, with Xavier’s lead swelling to 10 near the end of the first half before UConn came storming back to build a six point lead with ten minutes to play. The Huskies would ward off Xavier until 20 seconds remained. Trailing by three, Xavier did exactly what they did against Missouri a couple weeks ago: Ran the Jenkins for the Championship play to Naji Marshall, who hit a game-tying three.
The Huskies tried to get the win in regulation, but Tyrique Jones got WAY up and blocked an Alterique Gilbert layup attempt to send the game to overtime.
The first extra period was all Naji Marshall for Xavier. The junior guard scored Xavier’s first eight points in overtime and eight of their nine overall points in the period, but UConn found a way to tie it again as James Bouknight was fouled on a layup and tied it with a free throw to tie it again before a Marshall three fell woefully short and brought on a second overtime.
Disaster struck for Xavier early in the second overtime when Marshall fouled out, joining Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs as Xavier players who had fouled out. Even without these three, Xavier was able to find a way in the second overtime. After Bouknight put UConn up 74-73 with 21 seconds to play, he fouled Xavier’s Jason Carter with 10 seconds to go. Carter connected on both free throws and UConn couldn’t connect on the other end as Xavier hung on.
The Musketeers are now 6-0 for the first time since 2016-17.