With 18 points against Marquette on Thursday night, Semaj Christon surpassed 1,000-career points.
March 14, 2014
NEW YORK - Xavier used clutch performances from Semaj Christon and Justin Martin and clutch free-throw shooting to defeat Marquette, 68-65, in the program's first-ever BIG EAST Tournament game at storied Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Christon tallied 18 points in the victory, eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau in the process. The sophomore guard entered the contest needing 16 points to become just the second Musketeer to reach the milestone at Xavier. XU great Byron Larkin is the only other Musketeer to reach 1,000 points as a sophomore.
Martin poured in a team-high 19 points, which included 5-of-10 shooting from the floor and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Isaiah Philmore was the third a final Musketeer to reach double-digits, chipping in 10 points and a team-best six boards.
The Musketeers took the lead just before halftime and never relinquished the advantage, but had to rely on strong free throw shooting to close out the game.
Derrick Wilsons layup pulled MU within a point, 59-58, but Martin responded with a pair of free throws to push XU back in front by three with 1:32 left on the clock.
Following a pair of missed Golden Eagle free throws, Martin stepped back to the charity stripe and knocked down another pair to give the Musketeers a five-point cushion. Christon answered another Marquette bucket with two more free throws to hold Xavier's lead at five, 65-60, with 34.4 seconds remaining.
Todd Mayo connected on a three to keep the pressure on the Musketeers, cutting the margin to two, 65-63. This time, Christon stepped to the line and went 1-for-2.
Marquette got a look at a three coming out of a timeout, but Christon grabbed a long carom and was fouled yet again. Again, he went 1-of-2 to give Xavier a 67-63 margin.
Mayo got to the rim for another layup to cut XU lead to a pair, 67-65, but the basket came with two ticks remaining. Matt Stainbrook iced the game with a free throw, securing the final margin.
Xavier was outshot 47 percent (23-of-49) to 58 percent (26-of-45), but oustcored Marquette 17-8 at the charity stripe and committed five fewer turnovers, 10-15.
Martin drained a three-point shot and Christon went coast-to-coast to close the opening 20-minutes with a 9-2 run, sending Xavier into the locker room with a 31-29 advantage. Christon closed the half with 11 points, while Martin added nine.
Marquette shot57 percent (12-of-21) in the opening frame, compared to 44 percent (12-of-27) for Xaiver, but the Musketeers connected on one more trey, 3-2, and committed just five turnovers to the Golden Eagle's nine. MU picked up two more caroms than XU, 14-12
Deonte Burton provided the offensive fire for Marquette, tallying a career-high 23 points. Mayo, who had just two points during the first half, closed the game with 21.
Three-seed Xavier will meet the two-seed Creighton in the semifinals in a 9:30 p.m. tilt at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. The two teams split the regular season, with each team holding serve on its home court.