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Xavier pulls away from Ohio with 17-1 run in final 6 minutes

Bobcats miss final 8 shots from the field

CINCINNATI – Xavier closed the game on a 17-1 run to pull away for an 82-61 victory against Ohio on Wednesday evening at the Cintas Center.

The Bobcats (5-3) trailed just 65-60 on a Gavin Block layup with 6:16 remaining but did not make another field goal in the game. They missed their final eight shots from the floor and made just 1 of 4 free throws with one turnover during that span.

Jason Carter led Ohio with 17 points, while Teyvion Kirk scored 11 points and added six rebounds and four assists. Doug Taylor and Jason Preston each had 9 points.

Paul Scruggs paced the Musketeers (6-3) with 21 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. Naji Marshall had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Tyrique Jones had 15 points.

“We were right in the game and then we had three-consecutive turnovers against their zone,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “They do a good job of creating them, but I also think we can do a better job at protecting the basketball. That was really the turning point, and from there we were playing catch-up."

Ohio shot 46 percent for the game, while Xavier finished at 57.4 percent, including 72.7 percent in the second half.

Xavier began the lead by jumping out to a 15-3 lead but Ohio worked its way back. An 11-0 run capped by a Ben Vander Plas 3-pointer got the Bobcats to within two at 18-16. After the Musketeers pushed their lead back out to nine, the Bobcats scored eight straight to get back within one, and after a Xavier basket, they scored six more points in a row to go on top 32-29.

Marshall scored a pair of baskets in the final minute of the first half to put Xavier back on top at the break 35-34. Ohio’s final lead was 39-38 on a Jason Preston jumper early in the second half. Marshall connected on a 3-pointer to put Xavier on top for good.

"We got back to what we came here to do inside the paint and to defend the way that we defend," Ohio’s Doug Taylor said. "We got away from it in the first four minutes and in the last six minutes. We just need to be more consistent and we should be OK."

Ohio faces another tough challenge hosting Radford (6-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at The Convo. The Highlanders have wins against Notre Dame and Texas this season.

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