To say that this match up was special would be an understatement. Two of Xavier’s Elite 8 squads, teams that had to pull their seasons back from the brink, pitted against each other. It was sure to be fought the whole way as two of the toughest teams in program history battled things out.
Both offenses started out well and the score was level at 7-7 five minutes into the game. A couple stops and quick buckets by ‘17 saw them go on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes. The 2004 squad cut the lead to 2 before Trevon Bluiett (13/6/4) got cooking and pushed the lead back to 8 to make the halftime score 35-27.
The second half continued the offensive clinic put on by the 2017 team. Kaiser Gates (8/5/0) made a quick bucket to push the lead to 10, but it was JP Macura (23/6/3) who really took this game by the neck scoring two field goals and dishing two assists in just two minutes to make the score 48-32.
While Macura was in unstoppable form, 2004 just could not get much going. Romain Sato (12/5/4) hit jumpers on back-to-back possessions only to be answered by an Ed Sumner (12/5/4) dunk at the other end. Dedrick Finn (17/2/3) then hit a jumper and then found Justin Doellman (12/2/1) for a three to cut the lead down to 11. Following that Doellman 3 was a four possession burst from Macura and Bluiett that pushed the lead back out to 18.
In the following minutes Quentin Goodin (6/1/2) would score to make the lead 21 with 8 minutes to play. An 8-0 run led by Anthony Myles (8/10/1) gave ‘04 a ray of hope, but it quickly went away after Macura, Bernard (7/3/0) and Gaston (12/10/1) connected on consecutive possessions.
The game tightened up when ‘04 put on a 13-0 run to cut the lead to four with 90 seconds to play. Once again though, 2017 had an answer and Ed Sumner scored on a drive and he and Macura buried the game from the line. Final 84-74 to the 2017 squad.
This game did a good job of representing these teams legacies. 2017 ran a well balanced offense and utilized their athleticism on defense, and 2004 fought tooth and nail till the end and even looked like snatching victory towards the end, but their 8/30 from three sunk them on this particular day.
2017 advances to the next round and will face off against the only other remaining Elite 8 squad: the 2 seed 2008 team. Can 2017 pull off another upset, or will BJ Raymond end yet another March upset bid? We don’t know, that’s why we play them (sort of). Get on Twitter to vote in that matchup in the coming days.