LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Trevon Bluiett scored 20 points and Edmond Sumner got 11 of his 17 points in the second half, helping 11th-ranked Xavier hold off Northern Iowa 67-59 to win the Tire Pros Invitational on Sunday night.
After leading by 16 points in the second half, the Musketeers needed three free throws from Bluiett in the final 19.7 seconds to seal it. The Panthers (3-1) came on late and pulled within five before Xavier (5-0) stretched it back out.
Northern Iowa, which overcame an 18-point deficit to stun Oklahoma in the second round Friday, was led by Jeremy Morgan with 20 points. Bennett Koch added 11 points.
The Musketeers used a 12-0 run early in the second half to open up their most commanding lead of the game at 47-34. Bluiett and Sumner both had big shots before Malcolm Bernard buried a 3-pointer in building the 13-point lead.
The first half was defined by big shots and long scoring lulls by both teams as they went into halftime tied 30-30.
UNI, which started out hot behind Morgan’s shooting, led by nine with 10:52 remaining the first half. Bluiett led a rally by the Musketeers, though, tying it 22-22 on a 3-pointer with 6:05 left in the half. Xavier later took a four-point lead on Quetin Goodin’s driving basket.
Morgan led the Panthers with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range in the first half. Bluiett had 12 points in that time for Xavier.
The Panthers were 6 of 9 from 3-point range and converted 48 percent of their shots from the field during the first 20 minutes. Xavier didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well but made it up with hustle plays, outscoring Northern Iowa 6-0 on second-chance points in the half.
N. Iowa: The Panthers are great 3-point shooters, but their shots were not falling consistently against Xavier. Morgan was the only shooter to show up on Sunday.
Xavier: The Musketeers showed a variety of defenses to keep the Panthers off balance, switching from a 1-1-3 zone to man-to-man. Xavier has plenty of fire power on offense with J.P Macura and Goodin hitting big shots throughout the game.
Xavier: A win over previously unbeaten Northern Iowa could help the Musketeers standing.
Bluiett, Morgan and Macura made the all-tournament team along with Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard and Davidson’s Jack Gibbs. Bluiett was the tournament MVP after scoring 56 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and getting seven assists over the three games.
N. Iowa: The Panthers travel to Cincinnati to face Xavier again on Saturday.
Xavier: The Musketeers host Northern Iowa on Saturday.