CINCINNATI, OH--Senior point guard Eric Washington tied for game-high honors with 19 points, but the hosting Xavier Musketeers used rebounding and foul line advantages to post an 81-72 win over area rival Miami Friday at the Cintas Center.
Limiting Xavier on the boards, especially at the offensive end was part of Miami head coach John Cooper’s key points heading into the contest. Xavier, however, collected 18 offensive rebounds among its 42 total boards. The RedHawks registered seven offensive rebounds among 25 caroms.
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Also coming in handy for the hosts was an advantage at the line. Xavier hit on 26 of 34 attempts. The RedHawks made 19 of 25.
Joining Washington in double figures for MU were forward Jere Vucica and guard Geovonie McKnight. Both netted 11 points. Washington’s 19 points included 3 of 4 from behond the arc and 8 of 10 at the charity stripe. He tied with Willie Moore for the rebounding lead (4).
Four Musketeers reached double figures, led by freshman guard Edmond Sumner (19). Sophomore J.P. Macura came off the bench and hustled his way to a 17-point night. Sophomore forward Jalen Reynold finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while guard Tevon Bluiett chipped in 10 points.
After Xavier grabbed an early lead, Miami battled back to tie the contest at 15-all on a layup by LJ Livingston. Reynolds canned a pair of free throws for the hosts before Dion Wade his a three to give Miami its only lead of the evening, 18-17.
XU went back out front with a 9-2 run to make it 26-20, and the two teams went into halftime with the hosts up 45-40.
Xavier broke the game open with a 12-3 run coming out of the break. But the RedHawks fought back with a 17-4 sput. Geovonie McKnight contributed nine points in the run, which pulled MU within a single point at 61-60.
Six of the final eight points in the run, however, came at the free throw line as the RedHawks struggled from the field. Miami made one field goal between a McKnight trey at 11:44 and a Washington layup at 1:04.
“We didn’t do a great job of handling the 1-3-1 (zone), especially down the stretch,” Miami head coach John Cooper said. ‘Early I nthe year, it’s a tough defense to attack … and they have good size … out front.”
Reynold’s dunk, followed by treys from Macura and Bluiett kick-started a Xavier breakaway. Ten free throws in the final 13 Musketeer points allowed XU to salt away its 16th straight win in season openers.
Miami will be home Tuesday to face Kenyon (7 p.m.).