National Basketball Association
Xavier 85, Eastern Washington 56
When: 6:30 PM ET, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
# Jeff Clark, # Tony Chiazza, # Matt Potter
CINCINNATI -- Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner has been dealing with a hand issue for the past couple weeks, requiring his fingers to be taped. But after committing six turnovers with only two assists in a win over Wake Forest on Saturday, Sumner chose to go tape-less on Tuesday night.
The result was Sumner's most complete performance of the season with 14 points, a career-high nine assists and zero turnovers, lifting No. 17 Xavier to an 85-56 victory over Eastern Washington at sold-out Cintas Center.
"I'm a little superstitious, and with the tape I felt like I had no control over the ball when I was passing," Sumner said. "I just had to suck it up and play through the pain."
Trevon Bluiett had a team-leading 16 points for the Musketeers (10-2) who extended their non-conference home winning streak to 30. They haven't lost a non-conference game at home since falling to Wofford in 2012.
Xavier had 20 assists with just eight turnovers. Sumner's nine assists were his most since last February, when he had nine in a win over top-ranked Villanova at home.
The Musketeers scored 21 points off 15 turnovers for Eastern Washington.
"I thought our defense clamped down after sleep-walking for the first 10 minutes or so," Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. "I thought our ball movement was much better in the last 30 minutes. We created shots for one another. It was one of Edmond's better games."
Senior forward Jacob Wiley scored 16 points for Eastern Washington (8-4) which led for more than 11 minutes and by as many as 11 points in the first half. But, the upset bid vanished quickly.
"We were the better team for about 15 minutes," Eagles head coach Jim Hayford said. "We were up 11 at the 11-minute mark, then Xavier showed why they're a top-10 team."
The Musketeers outscored Eastern Washington by 27 points in the final nine minutes of the first half to take control.
The Eagles came out with plenty of energy Tuesday night after losing by 22 points on Sunday at Northern Kentucky, just a few miles away from Xavier's campus.
Cody Benzel's 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run to put the Eagles ahead 19-11.
Eastern Washington began the night 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Felix von Hofe connected from beyond the arc to put the Eagles ahead 22-11.
Mack took the blame for paying a bit too much attention to junior guard Bogdan Bliznyuk, Eastern Washington's leading scorer and two-time Big Sky Conference Player of the Year who was held to eight points, well below his 21.7 average.
"Probably my fault," Mack said. "We had a guy denying him 40 feet from the basket when they're not even looking at him as an option. It stretched our other players out. We quickly scrapped that, got back to being a tighter defense."
The game turned quickly after Mack's adjustments.
Bluiett's 3-pointer began an 11-0 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Kaiser Gates, who went 3-of-4 from 3-point range in the first half after coming in just 4-of-17 on the season.
"Overall, that's the best I've felt," said Gates, who missed the first five games this season following knee surgery. "I felt a lot more loose than I usually do."
Gates finished with 12 points, as did junior guard J.P. Macura.
Xavier closed the first half by outscoring the Eagles 35-8 with six straight made 3-pointers.
"When they shoot the ball that well, they're an unbeatable team," Hayford said.
Sumner shined in the first half with 12 points and six assists, helping Xavier build a 46-30 lead at halftime. He briefly left the game in the second half with a cramp, a recurring issue for him. But, by that point the Musketeers were ahead by 23 points and the sophomore point guard returned moments later.
Xavier doesn't play again until Dec. 28, when it hosts Providence to begin Big East Conference play.
NOTES: Xavier senior F Rashid Gaston, who spent three seasons at Norfolk State before transferring, eclipsed 1,000 points for his career in the first half Tuesday. ... Xavier is ranked No. 3 in the most recent RPI rankings. ... It was the first meeting between the schools. ... Eastern Washington is 1-24 all-time vs. ranked opponents including a loss this season to then-No. 21 Texas. The Eagles beat 10th-ranked Saint Joseph's in 2001.
Top Game Performances
Jacob Wiley 16
Trevon Bluiett 16
Jacob Wiley 4
Edmond Sumner 9
Bogdan Bliznyuk 9
J.P. Macura 6
Jacob Wiley 4
||Free Throws Made
J.P. Macura 8
Cody Benzel 2
Trevon Bluiett 4
Jacob Wiley 5
Tyrique Jones 2
Team Stats Summary