Men’s Basketball falls to Xavier 73-63

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

As Xavier Hill-Mais led the Golden Grizzlies to take on the Xavier University Musketeers in Cincinnati, Ohio, one Xavier had to come out on top. Unfortunately for the two buses of Oakland students who came to support the team, the Musketeers were able to get a victory, winning 73-63.

Despite the loss, the Golden Grizzlies made this game close from the very start. At one point early in the first quarter, they led by seven points. Hill-Mais was the leader of the offense, scoring 30 points on 21 shots, adding eight rebounds as well.

The No. 1 three-point shooting percentage leader in the nation, Braden Norris, continued his domination from behind the line, hitting four of six three-point shots. Norris also added eight assists with only one turnover, improving his already impressive assist to turnover ratio.

Xavier took the lead early in the first quarter after Oakland hit almost every shot they took, but the Golden Grizzlies still hung around. Multiple times when it looked like the Musketeers were about to pull away, Oakland was able to get a stop and hit some shots to keep the game close.

Hill-Mais had 22 points as the first half buzzer rang, and the crowd at Cintas Center was stunned as the Golden Grizzlies only trailed by five points. The Grizz Gang was alive after a four and a half hour bus ride to Cincinnati.

@OaklandMBB has a fan section of two rows at Cintas,” said Xavier student Pat Knapinski in a tweet. “They are being much, much louder than X’s entire student section…embarrassing #PickItUp.”

Xavier started off the second half on a mission, stretching their lead to 11 points, but Oakland did not give up, bringing the lead back down to three points with 10 minutes left in the second half.

A back-and-forth intense match-up continued on to the two-minute mark, as Oakland was on defense trailing by four points. After a Hill-Mais block, a loose ball wound up in the hands of the Musketeers. Xavier nailed a two pointer and Oakland missed the front end of a one and one foul shot, all but sealing the win for the Musketeers.

“We made some mistakes down the stretch that really didn’t take talent,” Head Coach Greg Kampe told GrizzVision. “There was a loose ball we didn’t dive on, then they scored on a play that we knew exactly what they were going to do.”

Free throw shooting was key in this game, as Oakland was only able to convert on two of seven attempts at the line, whereas Xavier was 19-23.

Despite making the game close against a team that was a 17-point favorite, Kampe was not satisfied leaving the Cintas Center without a win.

“It saddens me because those guys could have walked out of here with a win against a top team and top program in the country, and we couldn’t get it,” Kampe said post game to GrizzVision.

The Golden Grizzlies have the second of an eight game road trip on Thursday, Dec. 6 in Fairfield, Conn. against Fairfield University.