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Xavier edges Seton Hall, 70-69

The Musketeers hung on despite a furious rally by the Pirates at the end.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Although they went on a raucous rally in the final six minutes, the Seton Hall Pirates came up short on Wednesday. The Pirates went on a 17-2 run in the final 6:04, but still fell to the Xavier Musketeers, losing 70-69 in a game that may wind up stinging quite a bit.

The win didn’t take Seton Hall completely out of contention for an NCAA Tournament bid but it definitely hurt their chances considerably. Xavier has been one of the most woeful teams in the Big East this season and certainly not the usual Musketeer club we’ve come to get used to. The loss brought the Pirates down to 16-10 on the season and 7-7 in the Big East. Xavier, meanwhile, jumps up to 14-13 on the year and 6-8 in Big East play.

Xavier made things very cushy for themselves after going on a 17-3 run from the 11:47 mark to the 6:23 mark int he second half. That run was spearheaded by Naji Marshall, who erupted for 28 points in Brick City. Xavier’s star has had his off nights from time to time this season but he certainly went off against The Hall. He was personally responsible for 13 of the 17 points scored on this run.

Marshall hit five 3-pointers for the second time in three games, going 5-for-12 from deep. He went 11-for-23 from the field in general for what was a solid night to say the least. Marshall also added six boards and five assists along with one steal, and while he was a little sloppy (four TOs) he more than made up for it with his point production.

While Naji had the attention in that spurt, Tyrique Jones certainly wouldn’t be denied. Jones scored 18 points, going 50 percent from the field on 14 tries, and went 4-for-5 from the FT line. He also had 15 rebounds in his 31 minutes on the floor, six of them off the offensive glass. Jones was a force to say the very least, helping Xavier put up a 35.3 percent mark in the OR% department.

Zach Hankins got into double figures as well with 10 points on a 5-for-8 night from the floor. Paul Scruggs matched his assist total with three, as did Quentin Goodin.

This will be a very tough pill for Seton Hall to swallow, meanwhile. That 17-2 run nearly got them the duke, but they fell just one point shy. The run was catapulted by an assortment of Pirates. Michael Nzei, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Myles Cale, Myles Powell and Shavar Reynolds all put up points in this heavy spurt. Cale led the charge with eight points, including two 3-pointers. Reynolds scored the final two points on free throws with 52 seconds remaining, but no one on the Pirates could inch them any closer in the final sequences.

The aforementioned Cale had 21 points to lead the Pirates on the night. Powell had 17 points on 16 shots, and went just 2-for-7 from 3-point land. Mamukelashvili had 10 points, and those were the only three to get into double figures. Quincy McKnight had nine points, falling just one point shy of the double digit mark.

It didn’t help the Pirates at all that they put up a woeful mark from 3-point land against one of the worser 3-point defenses in the nation. Seton Hall shot just 23.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 21.4 percent in the second half. Given the point differential, it certainly made things worse for wear.

Seton Hall is now tasked with facing the St. John’s Red Storm on Saturday. The same Red Storm who, of course, fell tonight to the Providence Friars. So that game will be of some importance to say the very least. Meanwhile, Xavier’s spoiler tour continues Sunday when they host the Villanova Wildcats. Who... also took a brutal loss to the chin tonight to the Georgetown Hoyas.