CINCINNATI, Ohio (WFIE) - Six players scored in double figures in an unbelievable effort, but Xavier was able to fend off several challenges from the University of Evansville men’s basketball team, taking a 91-85 win inside the Cintas Center on Saturday afternoon.
Shea Feehan and K.J. Riley led the way for the Purple Aces (0-2) with 20 points apiece. John Hall and Evan Kuhlman posted 12 each while Marty Hill scored 11 and Noah Frederking added 10. The totals for Feehan, Hall and Kuhlman were all career marks. Hall and Riley added five assists each.
As a team, the Aces hit 17 3-pointers. That mark tied the school record, which was set against Southern Illinois in the 1996-97 campaign.
Paul Scruggs led Xavier (2-0) with 24 points. Tyrique Jones added 19 points and 20 caroms.
“I’m proud of our guys, they really bounced back after the Illinois game. We played together and almost got the win,” Aces head coach Walter McCarty said. “We had guys get in foul trouble, which had an impact in the end, but I am just really proud of everyone. We will be fine offensively. I am proud of our effort, we played our tails off. This team has a bright future.”
Marty Hill got off to a nice start, registering eight points in the early points. After Shea Feehan opened the scoring with a layup, Evan Kuhlman drained a triple to put the Aces up 5-2. After Xavier tied it up at 5-5, Hill’s first bucket of the day – a three – gave UE an 8-7 lead.
Xavier took its first lead of the day at 13-12 before extending it to four points. Hill’s second 3-pointer of the afternoon made it a 1-point game once again, cutting the XU lead to 18-17 at the 11:45 mark. The difference in the opening frame came on a 12-0 run that saw the Musketeers connect on 7 out of 9 shots to open up at 35-20 advantage 7:20 on the clock.
K.J. Riley ended the stretch with an and-one before Kuhlman added a triple to cut the deficit to 37-26. After Xavier pushed its lead back out to at (43-28), Feehan scored on a nice floater before Riley stole the inbound pass and converted to cut the deficit to 11 points. Great defense forced a Musketeer turnover that led to another UE possession and the Aces added another tally on a Riley free throw to make it a 10-point game.
Evansville continued to fight back as Kuhlman matched his career-high with his third triple of the game, cutting the gap to 43-36. Following a dunk by Xavier, Feehan struck again. A 4-point play marked his 8th point of the game and saw the Aces claw back within five with two minutes left in the half. Noah Frederking added the team’s eighth triple of the game in the final minute as UE went into the break down four, 49-45.
Out of the half, the momentum for the Aces continued. Shea Feehan nailed another triple on the first possession to make it a 1-point game. The Musketeers were able to push their lead back out to eight at 59-51 at the 17:37 mark, but UE countered with an 8-0 run. Riley hit a pair of buckets before Feehan connected from downtown before adding a free throw to tie it up at 59-59 five minutes into the second frame.
With 13:46 remaining in the game, the Aces were able to take their first lead since the opening minute when Noah Frederking was true from outside. It gave UE a 65-64 edge. Xavier retook the lead with under ten minutes left and pushed it out to 78-71 on an and-one. A 5-0 run got the Aces back within a pair with six minutes remaining, but a triple by the Musketeers, pushed it back out to a 2-possession lead.
That basket was the first of nine in a row that gave the Musketeers an 87-76 lead with four minutes remaining. Feehan ended the stretch with two free throws. Evansville continued to fight back. In the final minute, UE turned a Xavier turnover into a Frederking triple that made it a 90-85 game. The Aces were not done there. Stout UE defense forced a Musketeer turnover on ensuing possession as the Aces never gave up, but Xavier held off the challenges and took the 91-85 win in the end.
“Today, we did a better job of understanding the intensity we have to play with. If we do what we are capable of, we can win these games,” McCarty said after the game.
Evansville finished the game shooting 45.8% from the floor and 51.5% (17/33) from outside. Xavier finished the game at 51.6%. The finished with a 51-22 rebounding advantage.
Following the 2-game road swing to open the year, the Aces open the home slate this week, welcoming Kentucky Wesleyan on Thursday before playing host to Texas Southern on Sunday.
Courtesy: UE Athletics