Xavier had their fate in front of them. After shooting 6-10 from deep in the first half they had seen the lead as high as 19 and led by 14 at the half. Things could hardly have looked sunnier for the Musketeers. They had gone into their game against Georgetown needing two wins, and that hadn’t changed. Now, with 20 minutes to play, they had one of them in hand. Then, like has happened so many times this season, the wheels came off.
Please stop reading here if all your mouth-breathing mind can come up with is that the coach should be fired.
At 14:30 to play Adam Kunkel jarred a three that staked Xavier to a 13 point lead. Xavier had a 93.6% mathematical chance of winning. That should have done it, but it was possible to feel Butler stirring. What veteran Xavier fans were also feeling was that their own team might regress to the mean at any moment. Sure enough, they did, and hard. Look upon these entries, ye Musketeers fans, and despair.
13:54 Zach Freemantle missed Three Point Jumper. 37 - 48
13:47 C.J. Wilcher Turnover. 37 - 48
12:55 Dwon Odom made Jumper. 37 - 50
12:05 C.J. Wilcher missed Jumper. 40 - 50
11:25 Colby Jones missed Three Point Jumper. 40 - 50
10:50 Dwon Odom missed Three Point Jumper. 42 - 50
10:18 Paul Scruggs missed Layup. 42 - 50
9:28 Zach Freemantle missed Jumper. 42 - 50
8:58 Paul Scruggs missed Jumper. 42 - 50
8:45 Colby Jones missed Layup. 42 - 50
8:39 Dwon Odom made Jumper. 42 - 52
7:51 C.J. Wilcher missed Jumper. 45 - 52
7:05 Paul Scruggs missed Jumper. 47 - 52
6:29 Jason Carter missed Jumper. 48 - 52
5:40 Zach Freemantle missed Three Point Jumper. 49 - 52
Talk about the last eight minutes if you’d like. Whine about the coach if you must. Wonder what on earth was happening in Dwon Odom’s mind if you have the time. None of that has nearly as much to do with the outcome of the game as that eight minute stretch. Xavier turned 15 possessions into four points. It wasn’t bad coaching, bad offense, bad defense, or turnovers that did this team in. It was the same thing that has done for them all year: they simply suck at shooting the ball.
Xavier’s stars also didn’t come to play in the second half. Colby Jones had 10 in the first half and didn’t score again. Paul Scruggs took only eight shots on the game and scored only 10 points. Zach Freemantle turned the ball over four times in the last 25 minutes. For a team to win they can’t have their best players go absent. Xavier’s did.
The second half wore on and felt inevitable. The Musketeers offense rattled back to life briefly, but never hit the heights of the first half. When the threes fall for Xavier, they are unbeatable. In the second half tonight they went 3-11. One of those was Jason Carter in desperation mode. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. From when Zach Freemantle walked away from a red hot Chuck Harris on the arc in overtime, the writing was on the wall.
That’s with the benefit of hindsight. Paul Scruggs, oddly deferential all game, had X up one with Butler holding for the last shot. Then Dwon Odom grabbed Chuck Harris with four seconds to play. Every player knows to know the time and situation at all times. Odom very clearly didn’t. Soft as the call may have been, that is completely on him. It was a freshman mistake, but it happened at the worst possible time. Xavier never got another shot off. The season is over. There will be no bubble miracle.