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No. 18 Xavier handles Villanova for ninth straight win

Jan 7, 2023; Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Caleb Daniels (14) drives against Xavier Musketeers guard Colby Jones (3) in the first half at William B. Finneran Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Freemantle had 29 points and 11 rebounds and No. 18 Xavier defeated host Villanova 88-80 on Saturday.

Souley Boum hit all 10 free throws and added 22 points and 10 rebounds and Adam Kunkel contributed 15 points for the Musketeers (13-3, 5-0 Big East), who won their ninth in a row. Colby Jones added 11 points.

The Muskateers have started conference play 5-0 for the first time since joining in 2013-14. It was also Xavier’s first-ever win in Villanova’s on-campus arena.

Cam Whitmore led Villanova (8-8, 2-3) with 26 points while Caleb Daniels added 23 and Eric Dixon had 19.

Villanova played without Justin Moore (Achilles) and Jordan Longino (left leg).

Xavier used an early 11-0 run to take a 16-7 lead with 14:06 remaining in the first half.

Whitmore hit a tough layup and added a two-handed dunk to stop the surge by the Musketeers.

When Dixon broke free in the lane and scored with 8:10 left, the Wildcats closed within 18-17. Whitmore followed with a 3-pointer for a two-point lead.

The Musketeers turned the ball over four times over a span of 6:20 to fall behind.

Freemantle grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 7:25 remaining to tie the game at 20.

Xavier led 35-31 at halftime thanks in large part to eight points apiece from Freemantle and Kunkel.

Whitmore paced Villanova with 12.

Daniels drove to the basket and scored with 17:34 left to tie the game at 37.

The Musketeers went ahead 44-41 when Jones knocked down a trey with 15:58 remaining.

After Whitmore responded with a 3-pointer, Xavier then scored the next five points – a layup by Freemantle and a trey by Jack Nunge.

Kunkel hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 12:32 to go to extend the Musketeers lead to 55-47.

Dixon came back with a three-point play for Villanova.

Whitmore completed a three-point play with 7:48 left to close within 59-55.

Freemantle dropped in a 3-pointer and added a layup with 4:54 remaining for a 66-57 advantage. It could have been a three-point play, but Freemantle missed the free throw.

Villanova cut the deficit to 76-72 with 59.9 seconds left following Daniels’ trey from the corner.

–Field Level Media