Jack Nunge poured in a game-high 23 points while Souley Boum and Colby Jones each added 20 to lead No. 16 Xavier past 17th-ranked Providence, 85-83, on Wednesday night in a Big East overtime thriller in Cincinnati.
Noah Locke paced the Friars (17-6, 9-3 Big East) with 22 points. Ed Croswell contributed 21 points and nine rebounds and Bryce Hopkins added 10 and 13, respectively, for Providence, which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end. Jared Bynum’s 3-point attempt from the left baseline rattled in and out with two seconds left to allow the Musketeers (18-5, 10-2) to escape with the win.
Xavier was playing its first game without senior starting forward Zach Freemantle, who will miss at least four weeks due to a left foot injury. Freemantle, who felt pain during the last two games, is second in scoring (15.2 points per game) and first in rebounding (8.1 rebounds per game) for the Musketeers.
Xavier didn’t seem to miss Freemantle early, as they raced out to a 25-11 lead. The Musketeers last led by 14 when Desmond Claude made two free throws to craft a 33-19 advantage with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half.
The Friars held the Musketeers without a field goal for the final 4:17 of the half, outscoring Xavier 11-2 to close within four at the break. Xavier’s offense struggled without its star point guard Boum, who did not play the final 3:29 of the half after picking up his second personal foul.
Providence continued its charge, opening the second half with an 8-2 surge to take its first lead at 43-41. The two teams were separated by no more than four points the rest of regulation.
Boum’s two free throws with 2:29 remaining put Xavier on top, 71-70. But Locke drilled a baseline triple for a 73-71 lead. Nunge responded with a putback dunk on the next possession to tie things at 73.
Adam Kunkel’s 3-pointer was met by a trey from Bynum as the drama intensified in the closing minute of regulation. Xavier had two chances to win on the final possession, but Boum missed a pair of 3-point attempts to send things to overtime.
–Field Level Media