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Xavier basketball: Musketeers clip Niagara in tight season-opening win

The Musketeers evaded an upset on Tuesday.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Xavier avoided a sour fate on Tuesday night. In their season opener, the Musketeers edged Niagara 63-60. The Purple Eagles made a late push after trailing by seven points with under 60 seconds to play. They made it a bit hot for the Muskies, but Xavier made some crucial free throws down the stretch to ensure victory and a clean night for the Big East.

Paul Scruggs and Colby Jones led the way with 17 and 16 points respectively. Scruggs and Jones also picked up five rebounds each with 10 assists between them. Scruggs led that category with six, as the veteran guard was very productive on the night.

Jerome Hunter was also productive. Despite going 1-for-8 from the field, he went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to finish with seven points. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, proving to be a strong presence on the boards. The team had 39 boards, a very strong showing for a team that was just pretty okay last year in that category.

Niagara’s Marcus Hammond led the way in scoring with 25 points. This was an impressive performance in the early goings for Hammond, who was named to the Preseason All-MAAC First Team in the offseason. While KC Ndefo of Saint Peter’s was named Preseason POY in their conference, Hammond might be on some radars now after this showing.

Anyhow, the Musketeers are 1-0. They have not lost a season opener since December 2, 1989, when they fell 97-90 to Southern Utah at Cincinnati Gardens.