The Red Storm was five days removed from a near upset of the eleventh-ranked ranked Butler Bulldogs on New Year’s Eve in Carnesecca Arena, and failed to defeat Xavier to begin the new year.
“Coming on the road, you have to be able to shoot the basketball,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the loss. “We had 17 more shot attempts than they did, 1-for-16 from the three-point line.
“I don’t think that’s a reflection of our basketball team,” he added. “I thought the experience factor for Xavier was in full effect today.”
The Johnnies’ 1-for-16 showing from three was their worst of the season, and proved to be a deciding factor, despite their defensive tenacity.
The Red Storm forced 19 Xavier turnovers, scoring 22 of their 67 points after converting defense into offense. In turn, the Red Storm turned the ball over just seven times.
But their general performance from the field also hindered their chances at winning, hitting on only 34.8 percent from the field for the game. A portion of their misses came during an 0-for-11 stretch late in the second half, where Xavier expanded a four-point lead to make it a 68-55 game with just over 4 minutes to go.
The Red Storm came within six points down the stretch, but it was too little too late on Sunday.
“I thought we just missed shots,” Anderson said. “Xavier contested shots, but I thought we had some looks that just didn’t go down. We also got a lot of shots getting to the basket that were contested.”
LJ Figueroa paced the Red Storm with 17 points, while Marcellus Earlington chipped in with 12 on 6-of-11 shooting off the bench. Senior Mustapha Heron returned to action for the first time in nearly one full month, netting 11 points in 23 minutes of play.
The Red Storm will return to face the Georgetown Hoyas at Capital One Arena in Washington on Wednesday at 6:30 pm. Both the Red Storm and the Hoyas are 0-2 to begin Big East play.