Women's Tennis Wins Four Straight

CINCINNATI – Xavier women's tennis extends their winning streak to four games after they defeated Seton Hall on March 26, with a 5-2 score. This is the Musketeers largest winning streak so far this season. Xavier improves to 3-0 in conference and 8-7 overall. Xavier had three Musketeers go 2-0 on the day, all of which were decided by a tie breaker in singles.

Sydney Liggins earned the No. 1 singles victory with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 decision. Liggins and doubles partner Rachael Reichenbach also declared victorious in No. 2 doubles with a 6-3 score. Reichenbach fell short in No. 4 singles at the tiebreaker with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 result.

The dynamic sophomore duo of Sophia Abelson and Zoe Manion also were successful in both singles and doubles. The double partners finished with a 6-4 decision at No. 3 doubles. Abelson won No. 5 singles with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 score. Manion also won at No. 6 singles with a 4-6, 7-6(6), 10-7 advantage.

Lauren Ghidotti also helped the Musketeers to victory with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles. Ghidotti and doubles partner Cristina Di Lorenzo did not finish at No. 1 doubles, ending with a 5-4 score. Di Lorenzo fell at No. 2 singles, 6-4, 7-5.

The Musketeers close out their three-game road trip in Chicago, ILL on April 1 as they face DePaul.

1.       Sydney Liggins [XU] def. Luize Strike [SH] 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
2.       Anna Fajnorova [SH] def. Cristina Di Lorenzo [XU] 6-4, 7-5
3.       Lauren Ghidotti [XU] def. Michal Matson [SH] 6-3, 6-2
4.       Melody Taal [SH] def. Rachael Reichenbach[XU] 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
5.       Sophia Abelson [XU] def. Katie Kim [SH] 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
6.       Zoe Manion [XU] def. Krista Cerpina [SH] 4-6, 7-6(6), 10-7

1.       Cristina Di Lorenzo/Lauren Ghidotti [XU] DNF Luzie Strike/Anna Fajnarona [SH] 5-4
2.       Rachael Reichenbach/Sydney Liggins [XU] def. Melody Taal/Michal Matson [SH] 6-3
3.       Sophia Abelson/ Zoe Manion [XU] def. Krista Cerpina/Katie Kim[SH] 6-4

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Bill Murray's magical sports run ended with Xavier's Elite 8 loss

Bill Murray has had an incredible year of sports — from his minor league team clinching its first playoff berth in over a decade in June to  the Cubs winning the World Series in November to Xavier’s March Madness run to the Elite Eight.

“The power of Bill Murray,” as NBA star Dwyane Wade called it, was magical.

On Saturday, it came to an end as No. 11 Xavier, where Murray’s son is an assistant coach, was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by No. 1 Gonzaga.

However, Murray and the Musketeers shouldn’t be too upset right now, though I think Murray knows that (Murray was seen applauding Xavier all the way to the end and hanging around after the 83-59 loss). The reason they shouldn’t be too upset is they were the best Cinderella story of the tournament.

On Saturday, it came to an end as No. 11 Xavier, where Murray’s son is an assistant coach, was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by No. 1 Gonzaga.

However, Murray and the Musketeers shouldn’t be too upset right now, though I think Murray knows that (Murray was seen applauding Xavier all the way to the end and hanging around after the 83-59 loss). The reason they shouldn’t be too upset is they were the best Cinderella story of the tournament.

So even though Murray’s magical sports year is over, it at least ended on somewhat of a high note. Xavier wasn’t able to make its first Final Four, but the team fought to its first Elite Eight since 2008.

But at the end of the day, does Bill Murray ever really lose?

Gonzaga Marches Into Its First Final Four by Routing Xavier

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Mark Few’s father, Norm, was a Presbyterian minister for more than 50 years. He entered hundreds of couples into the bonds of matrimony and comforted the bereaved at more than a thousand funerals.

When Few is asked about his legacy at Gonzaga, where he has coached the past 28 seasons, he thinks about his father’s accomplishments, and not how he has won far more basketball games than he has lost.

But results do matter to Few. His charge is to win, and in his 18 years at the helm, he has presided over Gonzaga’s ascension from spunky upstart to midmajor darling to certifiable contender.

He does not need validation or vindication, but now that the Bulldogs have advanced to the first Final Four in their history, he has it.

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Until Saturday, when top-seeded Gonzaga clobbered Xavier, 83-59, in the West Regional final, Few had won the most N.C.A.A. tournament games (24) among coaches who had never reached the national semifinals.

This best version of Few’s best team played with fury and purpose, burying Xavier’s bid to become the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four. Gonzaga (36-1) made a dozen 3-pointers and disrupted the Musketeers near the rim with a fierceness that Xavier had yet to encounter during its unlikely stampede to the round of 8.

As a measure of Gonzaga’s offensive efficiency, consider that it allowed more points before halftime than it had in any other game this season — 39 — and it still led by 10. That lead ballooned to 17 less than five minutes into the second half, and although Xavier’s fans chanted, “We believe,” they had no better luck forestalling the inevitable than its players did.

Few has coached some superb teams, but none like this one, which has coalesced despite the fact that five members of its eight-man rotation did not even wear a Gonzaga uniform last season. One transfer, Nigel Williams-Goss, led Gonzaga with 23 points, and another, Johnathan Williams, added 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks and was selected as the region’s most outstanding player.

The arrivals of all these talented players, accustomed to taking many shots and scoring loads of points, could have crashed the program, but the players subjugated their egos. Williams-Goss praised Josh Perkins, another point guard, for welcoming him.

“We know how good you are,” Perkins said of the team’s attitude, “but we can be so much better together.”

And here the Bulldogs are, going to the Final Four, where they will play next Saturday in Glendale, Ariz., against the winner of Sunday’s East Regional final between Florida and South Carolina.

To get there, Gonzaga overwhelmed a university that resembled itself — a small Jesuit school with no Final Four experience where basketball, not football, drives the sporting culture.

“There’s no pro team; there’s no football team,” Perkins said of Spokane, Wash., home to Gonzaga. “We’re pretty much it. We’re the celebrities; we’re the role models. It’s fun, but you’ve got to win basketball games, or it’s not so good.”

On Perkins’s first day on campus, he was recognized at a Chipotle restaurant. That introduced him to the intensity of Gonzaga basketball fandom, which was on display not only at San Jose’s SAP Center — where fans packed several of the lower sections — but also back in Spokane. After the game, players in the locker room passed around a cellphone showing scenes of people there jumping around.

“Spokane’s lit!” someone shouted.

To Perkins’s point, things have been good at Gonzaga far more often than they have not — 28 victories last season, 35 the season before, 29 in 2013-14, 32 in 2012-13. Aside from Gonzaga, only Wisconsin and North Carolina have reached the round of 16 the past three years. That consistency is the envy of so many programs, but that popular benchmark of greatness — the Final Four — had managed to elude the Bulldogs.

They lost in their two previous regional finals, in 1999 and 2015, when they were underdogs, and the only other time they were seeded No. 1, in 2013, they lost to Wichita State in the second round.

Gonzaga’s strong alumni base remains close to the program. Former players, like Kelly Olynyk, Jeremy Pargo and Matt Santangelo, have sent out encouraging text messages: “Hey, we couldn’t do it, so you guys do it.”

The Bulldogs did it by silencing a team that had trampled over one favorite after another, baffling sixth-seeded Maryland, third-seeded Florida State and, on Thursday, second-seeded Arizona with impenetrable defense. Gonzaga detonated that defense early and often.

“I mean, they’re really good,” Xavier Coach Chris Mack said. “Sometimes, you just lose to a better team.”

That was about as close as Mack has gotten this postseason to acknowledging that a better team existed than his Musketeers, who proved they were far better than their seeding might suggest.

On Tuesday, before they flew to San Jose, Mack showed players a video clip of confetti cascading onto a court.

He asked how badly they wanted to experience that themselves, and then a ladder appeared. The Musketeers acted out a traditional net-cutting celebration, hooting and hollering as if in a packed arena instead of their auxiliary gym. They then placed the strands in a jar that contained the detritus of another motivational ploy, the ashes from the burning of February calendars that the staff had printed — with the results from Xavier’s five straight losses that month, all to teams that went on to make the N.C.A.A. tournament.

Mack tried willing that act into a sequel here, but soon after the buzzer sounded Saturday, after Gonzaga’s players danced at center court, it was his counterpart who climbed the ladder. Few clipped the net, turned to the crowd and hinted at the possibilities in Arizona.

“Might as well win it,” he said.

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