Xavier Basketball’s 2018-19 season came to a suspenseful end Sunday afternoon. Through a 78-76 in overtime in Austin, Texas to Texas Basketball. In the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Missed opportunities played a pivotal role this game for the Xavier Musketeers. Right down to the final plays of both regulation and overtime. First, there was a missed free throw from Quentin Goodin. One that would’ve put Xavier ahead 71-70 in the final seconds of regulation. Followed by Zach Hankins buzzer-beater attempt; which was ultimately blocked by Texas’ Jericho Sims.
The pivotal season-ending play came about through lucky and unlucky breaks in overtime. Xavier caught a break through late missed free-throws from Texas’ Kerwin Roach II. Then through getting the ball in the closing seconds through a jump ball. The Musketeers had the chance to send it to a second overtime with a last second layup. Yet, Tyrique Jones’ and Naji Marshall’s attempts rolled off of the rim as time expired.
Jones and Marshall were key playmakers for Xavier in the NIT. Marshall led the Musketeers in points and rebounds in the first round. Jones had a career-high and game-leading 22 points in Sunday’s game. Jones also led this game with 11 rebounds for a double-double. Meanwhile, Sunday marked the end of Kyle Castlin, Ryan Welage and Zach Hankins’ college careers.
Despite the loss, Xavier matched the intensity they had in their first round game. When the Musketeers scored 51 points in the second half. The Musketeers were in this second round game until the end. After battling back and forth with the Texas Longhorns through several lead changes. Xavier was basically a bounce away from advancing to the quarterfinals.
Finishing with a 19-16 overall record, Xavier’s season ultimately went the way many expected it would. Given the players they lost after last season; along with it being Travis Steele’s first year as Xavier’s head coach. Though there are reasons to hope that Xavier will do better next season. Most of Xavier’s key playmakers will return next season. Including Naji Marshall, Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs among others. With this in mind, a 2020 NCAA Tournament bid is a reasonable expectation for Xavier.