CINCINNATI — Edmond Sumner ditched the tape on his injured finger and played his best all-around game, a good sign for No. 17 Xavier as it enters Big East play.
Sumner scored 12 of his 14 points while Xavier took control in the first half, and the Musketeers picked up their third straight win, 85-56 over Eastern Washington on Tuesday night.
After a sluggish start, the Musketeers (10-2) took control with a 35-8 run. Sumner ran the show, ignoring the finger injury he suffered a few games ago.
“Every time I catch or dribble the ball, it’s just nagging,” said Sumner, who had been taping together the two outside fingers on his left hand. “I’m a little superstitious. With the tape, I felt I had no control over the ball. I had to suck it up and play through the pain.”
Sumner finished with a career-high nine assists and no turnovers. Trevon Bluiett added 16 points, and Xavier had five players score in double figures.
Jacob Wiley had 16 points for Eastern Washington (8-4) , which trailed by as many as 29 points.
“We were up 11 at the 11-minutes mark, then Xavier showed why they’re a Top 10 team,” Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford said. “They were 6 for 6 closing out the first half. When they shoot the ball that well, they’re an unbeatable team.”
Eastern Washington made eight of its first 13 shots — including two 3s by Felix Von Hofe — against Xavier’s sluggish defense for a 22-11 lead. That’s when Xavier turned it on, finishing the half on a 35-8 surge.
“We clamped down after sleep walking for the first 8 minutes or so,” coach Chris Mack said.
Kaiser Gates hit three of Xavier’s seven 3s during the spurt and finished with a season-high 12 points . Gates, a sophomore forward, had knee surgery before the start of the season and missed the first five games. He’s struggled to get back in form, making only 4 of 17 from behind the arc before Tuesday night.
“Overall I’d say it’s the best I’ve felt,” Gates said. “I felt a lot more loose than usual, a little more bouncy.”
Eastern Washington: The Eagles are 1-24 all-time against ranked teams, including losses this season to Texas and Xavier. Their only win over a ranked team was 68-67 over No. 10 Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 15, 2001.
Xavier: Sumner showed no problems handling the ball despite the sore finger. He made all of his four shots in the first half — two from beyond the arc — and two free throws.
After consecutive road losses to Baylor and Colorado dropped them out of the Top 10, the Musketeers have stabilized with their three straight wins.
VON HOFE HURT
Von Hofe, who is Eastern Washington’s top 3-point shooter, hurt his left shoulder while going for a loose ball with 5:21 left in the game and went to the bench. He wore a sling at the end of the game. Von Hofe finished with nine points, going 3 of 10 from beyond the arc.
OFF THE MARK
Eastern Washington came into the game making 81.8 percent from the free throw line, second nationally to Notre Dame, but went only 9 of 18 against Xavier.
Eastern Washington goes to Colorado on Thursday for the third of four straight road games. The Eagles finish their trip at Idaho on Dec. 30.
Xavier opens Big East play against Providence at the Cintas Center on Dec. 28.