The XCP basketball team is hoping to qualify for the Division I super-sectional tournament in a few weeks, with the sights set on a spot in the state tournament.
To earn such notice, the Gators must play well down the stretch in the regular season.
Xavier has four sectional games left, but missed out on a big opportunity on Friday night, when it fell to visiting Mesa Mountain View 56-42.
The Gators (8-13) stayed close for three-plus quarters, trailing by only three entering the fourth. But Mountain View (14-7) went on a 20-11 run in the final period to put the game away.
“About two minutes there, we lost it and couldn’t get it back,’’ said Xavier coach Stephen Moss-Kelley. “We couldn’t throw it in the ocean even if we wanted to.’’
The coach lamented that his team “has to have patience on offense, work the defense for the open shot, not just throw the ball up.’’
It does not help matters when the opponent features a player such as Armani Hawkins. The 5-foot-9 senior, one of the nation’s top guards and who is committed to Arizona State, scored 30 points against the Gators, hitting a variety of shots.
“You can see why she is thought of so highly,’’ Moss-Kelley said.
Hawkins scored seven points in the fourth quarter to keep Xavier in the distance.
Freshman forward Alana Kelley scored 14 points to lead the Gators and junior forward-guard Vanessa Murphy added 13, including three 3-pointers.
Xavier now has five games remaining in the regular season, four against Section III opponents. The Gators’ next game is at home on Tuesday night (Jan. 27) against non-sectional foe Avondale Westview.