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Sharp-shooting Xavier hands NSU 1st loss of the season

Adam Kunkel scored 26 points and hit eight of host Xavier’s 14 3-pointers as the Musketeers handed Norfolk State its first loss of the season, 88-48, on Sunday.
Credit: NSU Athletics

CINCINNATI — Adam Kunkel scored 26 points and hit eight of host Xavier’s 14 3-pointers as the Musketeers handed Norfolk State its first loss of the season, 88-48, on Sunday afternoon at the Cintas Center.

Nate Johnson added 20 points and four 3-pointers for Xavier (4-0), which was playing its first game after defeating nationally ranked Ohio State on Thursday.

Christian Ings led the Spartans (5-1) with 12 points. He also had four steals and four rebounds.

The Musketeers hit their first five shots from the floor on Sunday, three of which were 3-pointers. Johnson and Paul Scruggs hit two early treys as Xavier scored the game’s first 10 points. Kunkel scored 11 points in the first half and hit a trio of 3-pointers, and Colby Jones scored all 10 of his points in the half.

Xavier also got the job done at the defensive end of the floor, holding NSU to 18 percent shooting in the opening half and blocking seven Spartan field goal attempts.

NSU cut the deficit to as little as 25 points after a Kris Bankston field goal early in the second half, but the Musketeers hit 8-of-18 from long range in the second half to pull away. Kunkel hit five shots from deep in the second half alone.

Ings scored eight of his points after halftime and Joe Bryant Jr. scored six in the second half. Dana Tate Jr. scored seven points off the NSU bench.

The Spartans recorded 11 steals on the game and forced 17 Xavier turnovers. Ings led with four steals while both Cahiem Brown and Daryl Anderson had two each.

“Today was a much-needed wakeup call and it will help us as the season goes along,” said NSU head coach Robert Jones, whose team topped Bowling Green on Friday evening. “Xavier will be a top 25 team in the new polls and it showed us the level where we strive to be, and will be, in March. Good teams split road trips, and we did just that.

“We have to regroup if we want to get to 6-1 on Tuesday.”

The Spartans return home for their final contest at Echols Hall this calendar year on Tuesday, a 7 p.m. game against Regent University.