Xavier Closes Regular Season With Loss to No. 6 Villanova

Justin Martin had a game-high 20 points.

Justin Martin had a game-high 20 points.

March 6, 2014

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CINCINNATI - Xavier dropped its final home game of the year against No. 6 Villanova, 77-70. The Musketeers finish the regular season 20-11 overall (10-8 BIG EAST) and Villanova improves to 27-3 (15-2 BIG EAST).

Junior Justin Martin led the Musketeers with game-high 20 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds.

Sophomore Semaj Christian added 18 points, scoring in double figures for the 15-straight game. Christian also dished out six assists.

Senior Isaiah Philmore added 15 points for XU in his final home game at Cintas Center.

Xavier used a run of 7-0 to start off the first half to grab the early lead. Ryan Arcidiacono sunk a three to cut the lead to four and started a 7-0 VU run to tie the game, 7-7. After trading baskets, the Wildcats took its first lead of the game with 10:06 left in the first half on a Darrun Hilliard three pointer, 19-18, and built it as high as four, 24-20. XU scored six straight to retake the lead, 26-24, at the 6:48 mark, on back-to-back threes from Martin and Myles Davis. From that point Villanova outscored the Musketeers 17-10 to take a five point lead, 41-36, into the locker room at the half.

Villanova opened the second half with a 5-0 run, taking a ten point lead and holding Xavier without a basket until a Christian layup with 16:31 left in the game, 46-38. XU closed the gap with five-straight points from Christian and a tip-in by Reynolds to cut the Wildcat lead to six, 57-51, with 9:19 left to go. Xavier cut the lead to five with 4:03 left. In desperation time, Xavier cut the lead down to three, 73-70, on a Christian jumper with 21 seconds to go in the game, but Villanova made its free throws down the stretch to preserve the win, 77-70.

Xavier shot 39 percent (23-60) on field goals and 26.1 percent (6-24) behind the arc. The Musketeers also connected on 78.3 percent (18-23) on free throws. Villanova hit 46.9 percent (23-49) from the floor and 40.9 percent (9-22) on threes to build its lead. The Wildcats sealed the victory by shooting 78.6 (22-28) on free throws, hitting six out of seven from the line in the final minute of the game.

Hilliard led Villanova with 19 points, 15 coming in the first half. JayVaughn Pinkston scored 15 for the Wildcats and James Bell added 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Xavier will be back in action on Thursday, March 13 for its first BIG EAST Tournament game at Madison Square Garden in New York. The opponent has yet to be determined.