Jordan Crawford scored 23 points and dished out six assists to lead the Xavier Musketeers to a 81-67 victory over the Charlotte 49ers at Halton Arena. It was the third straight loss for the Niners as the Musketeers swept the season series.
Musketeer point guard Terrell Holloway opened the game with a 3-pointer. The Niners (18-8, 8-4) responded with seven straight points as Shamari Spears jump shot put the Niners up 7-3 with 16 minutes 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
A jump shot by Spears put the Niners up 16-14 with 10 minutes and 8 seconds remaining in the first half. Over the next 7 minutes and 5 seconds the Niners went scoreless as the Musketeers (19-7, 10-2) used a 14 to nothing run to seize control of the game. Ian Andersen's 3-pointer cut the deficit to nine with 3 minutes and 3 seconds remaining in the half.
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"We got stuck on 16 points," said Niner Head Coach Bobby Lutz. "Inside or out it didn't matter and part of that is a tribute to their defense.
Chris Braswell cut the deficit to six points on his 3-point play with 1 minute 48 seconds remaining. However Crawford would score the Musketeers last three points of the first half to give the Musketeers a 31-22 advantage heading in to the locker rooms. The Musketeers shot 46.2 percent in the first half while outscoring the Niners 18-6 in the paint.
Braswell's put back slam dunk off of Derrio Green's missed layup cut the deficit to five points with 16 minutes 55 seconds remaining in the game. The Musketeers responded by scoring on their next three possessions which included a 3-pointer and a layup from Crawford to give the Musketeers a 41-29 lead.
"Jordan was instrumental in us sprinting out ahead," said Musketeer Head Coach Chris Mack.
K.J. Sherrill's layup cut the deficit to five points with 12 minutes 23 seconds remaining. Mark Lyons would hit to free throws to make the score 47-40 in favor of the Musketeers and on the ensuing possession the Niners were assessed a team technical. Holloway would hit both free throws and the Musketeers took advantage of their possession as Jason Love slammed it home to put the Musketeers up by 11.
Two free throws from Spears cut the lead to eight with 9 minutes and 12 seconds left but the Niners never got any closer as they trailed by as many as 17 points as the Musketeers cruised to the victory. The Niners only shot 36.5 percent from the field from for the game, 28.6 percent from the 3-point line, while the Musketeers shot 52 percent for the game.
"I really challenged our big guys to try and take control of the game," said Mack. "I was really happy with the way we came out and defended close to the basket."
Spears only scored 13 points on five of 14 shots and he only got to the free throw line twice. Braswell scored nine points and added seven rebounds while Phil Jones only contributed four points.
The Musketeers scored 36 of their 81 points in the paint and they had 18 fast break points as opposed to eight for the Niners. They also hit 20 of their 30 shots from inside the arc. "Our execution was lacking against a team of their caliber," Lutz said. "They played a great game."
McLean added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Musketeers while Holloway added 13 points and Love added 10.
"I really thought our kids did a great job," said Mack. "Any time you can come to Charlotte, North Carolina and play the 49ers and beat them at their place that's a feather in your cap."
Green scored 23 points to lead the Niners but he only made six-of-17 shots from the field and only three-of-12 3-pointers. The Niners are now tied in the loss column with Dayton in the league standings.
"We're disappointed but it's not the end of the world," said Green. "We can't fall apart because we lost three [straight] games. We still [have] games left to prove ourself."