Just days removed from its first loss, the Fairfield Prep basketball team did not know what to expect in its next game against Xavier.
The Jesuits did not put forth their crispest effort on Friday, but still managed to get back in the win column.
Led by a dominant backcourt, Prep gained its 10th win, 69-59, over Xavier on Friday night at Alumni Hall.
The Jesuits scored 22 points in both the first and third quarters but combined for just 25 in the second and fourth.
"It'd be nice if we could put a (whole) game together," Prep coach Leo Redgate said, adding that opposing coaches have told him "if you played like this for half a game, you'd win by 30."
Freshman guard Ryan Murphy led all scorers with 19 and sophomore Thomas Nolan scored 16 as the Jesuits' backcourt combined for 52 of Prep's 69 points.
"We have a great group of guards," Nolan said, "we share the ball well."
Prep forward Tim Butala scored 12, grabbing seven rebounds as Prep put its first loss, last Tuesday to No. 1 Hillhouse, behind it.
"It's important to get back on track," Butala said.
Xavier's James Sullivan scored 16, adding five rebounds. Senior Lucas Hannen scored 15, notching five steals, as Xavier dropped its second straight, falling to 7-5.
Prep led by as many as 18 midway through the third quarter, thanks to a 24-8 second-half run. The Jesuits used an aggressive, trapping press to force turnovers and get transition baskets, building a 62-44 fourth-quarter advantage.
"Defense leads to our transition points," Nolan said. "If we don't play good defense, we're not going to get out in transition and we did a good job at some points tonight."
But Xavier answered with a 15-4 run, keyed by three 3-pointers. The Falcons got within seven, 66-59, with 2:33 to play.
"We proved that good teams win ugly games," Butala said. "We let them kind of stick around, and that's something we'll have to work on."
Prep never trailed, jumping out to a 19-6 first-quarter advantage. Murphy scored nine of his 19 in the first quarter, as the Jesuits built a 22-12 lead after one.
Keyed by Sullivan and Hannen, Xavier roared back, outscoring the Jesuits 17-12 in the second. Hannen scored five of
his 15 on a 7-0 second-quarter run, in which the
Jesuits were lulled to
sleep by Xavier's 2-3
zone. Prep led 34-29 at halftime.
"If I were playing us, I think I'd play zone too," Redgate said. "We just have to recognize that well-coached teams are going to play zone, and the kids have to actually do what I say and break it the proper way."
Xavier 7-5, 5-4 SCC
James Sullivan 7 0-0 16 Lucas Hannen 6 1-1 15 Elijah Pemberton 1 0-0 2 Joe Carbone 3 1-2 8 Brandon MacPherson 5 0-0 10 Tim Boyle 2 0-0 4 Nick Napolitano 2 0-0 4 Kaleb Lutton 0 0-0 Totals 26 2-3 59.
Fairfield Prep 10-1, 8-1 SCC
XAVIER 12 15 15 19-- 59
PREP 22 12 22 13--69
3-pointers: Xavier 5 (Hannen 2, Sullivan 2, Carbone); Prep 5 (Nolan 4, Murphy).