Both of these teams exited the real tournament in heartbreaking ways. They both had the chance to rewrite history and get into the Xavier Final Four. The stage was set for a big, memorable game between two great, but very different squads. It certainly delivered.
2009 started the game off with a made jumper from Derrick Brown (16/5/3) and a made three from freshman Terrell Holloway (5/2/2). Quentin Goodin (9/4/9) finished on a dish from JP Macura (17/4/5) before finding Macura for a jumper on the following possession. This set the tone for the half as both teams continued to exchange blows.
The tandem of BJ (25/5/2) and CJ (10/7/4) scored on consecutive possessions but both were answered by buckets from Macura and Goodin. JP converted a tip in to give his team the lead then Trevon Bluiett (19/7/1) finished his first field goal through contact and knocked down the free throw. Bluiett then ht another jumper off an assist from Goodin before the game saw a five-minute field goal drought. This was ended when CJ Anderson tipped one in and the teams scored on five straight possessions to breathe life back into the game. The teams went back and forth and went into halftime with 2018 ahead 42-40.
Macura started the second half hot, first assisting Goodin before making a shot of his own. Brad Redford (7/0/2) answered with a three before Naji Marhsall (10/5/2) went on a personal 5-0 run to push the lead out to seven. A few minutes later, Bluiett connected from 3 on back-to-back possessions to make the score 58-47. BJ, CJ, and Jason Love (7/8/1) scored in quick succession to cut the lead to 7 but a Goodin 3 pushed it back to double-digits.
Derrick Brown responded with a three of his own, followed by Redford splitting a pair of free throws. Brown then sank a pair of free throws, cutting the lead to just four. After a few buckets from both teams they were still separated by four points. Marshall scored on a drive and Kaiser Gates (17/6/0) hit a three to make the lead nine with three and a half minutes left.
With 2 minutes left, 2009 refused to go quietly and Dante Jackson (5/3/2) hit from behind the arc to make it a five point game. Macura scored on another dish from Goodin and Gates knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead back to eight. BJ Raymond then knocked down two from the line and hit a jumper to make it a four point game with 26 seconds left. In the final seconds though, 2018 went 6-6 from the line and 2009 could not get the bucket that they desperately needed. Raymond hit a three at the buzzer to make the final 86-79 with 2018 taking the victory.
2009 continued to cut the lead down in the second half, but every time 2018 would have someone step up to answer. 2018 makes it into the Final Four where they will face off against the 2017 squad.