Xavier Beats Texas A&M on Jack Nunge's Clutch Winner to Claim 2022 NIT Title

Erin WalshApril 1, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 09: Zach Freemantle #32 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the second half of the game during the 2022 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The No. 2 seed Xavier Musketeers defeated the No. 1 seed Texas A&M Aggies 73-72 in the 2022 NIT Championship Game on Thursday at Madison Square Garden to claim their second NIT title in school history. 

Xavier Gameday @XavierGameday

βš”οΈ | Xavier wins the 2022 NIT Championship!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoX?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoX</a> <a href="https://t.co/pcqZOL31jg">pic.twitter.com/pcqZOL31jg</a>

It marks an impressive end to the season for the Musketeers, who have been playing under interim head coach Jonas Hayes over the last several weeks after the program parted ways with former head coach Travis Steele. 

After falling to Butler in the Big East Tournament, Xavier went on to defeat seventh-seeded Cleveland State 72-68 in the first round of the NIT. The Musketeers also defeated No. 3 seed Florida, No. 4 seed Vanderbilt and No. 5 seed Saint Bonaventure en route to the championship game. 

Jack Nunge, Adam Kunkle, Colby Jones and Zach Freemantle were Xavier's leaders in this tournament, and they proved that with big performances in the championship game Thursday. 

Nunge, in particular, came up clutch with a bucket off an inbounds pass to give Xavier a one-point lead with 3.1 seconds remaining in the game. The Aggies were given one last chance to win the game after his bucket but were unable to make a shot as time ran out. 

ESPN @espn

XAVIER WINS THE NIT CHAMPIONSHIP ON THIS GAME WINNER 😱 <a href="https://t.co/05bgdae1gj">pic.twitter.com/05bgdae1gj</a>

Xavier Basketball @XavierMBB

π—π—”π—–π—ž π—‘π—¨π—‘π—šπ—˜ 𝗙𝗒π—₯ π—§π—›π—˜ π—Ÿπ—˜π—”π——! <a href="https://t.co/nokrYm37be">pic.twitter.com/nokrYm37be</a>

The junior forward finished Thursday's game with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. 

Xavier entered halftime down eight points to Texas A&M, which appeared to have all the momentum entering the second half. However, a career performance from Colby Jones helped the Musketeers mount an impressive comeback. 

The sophomore guard finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists in the win. His 21 points are the most he has ever scored in a game for Xavier. 

Xavier Basketball @XavierMBB

βš”οΈ | Colby Jones sets a new career-high at 21 points and puts the Musketeers back in front!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoX?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoX</a> <a href="https://t.co/eWI2Ol3Ocf">pic.twitter.com/eWI2Ol3Ocf</a>

Sophomore guard Dwon Odom also had an impressive performance, finishing with 18 points, three rebounds and two assists. 

As for Texas A&M, senior guard Quenton Jackson paced the Aggies with 23 points and five rebounds, while junior guard Tyrece Radford finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and one assist.

Sophomore forward Henry Coleman III, who was the team's second leading scorer this season, had a disappointing performance against Xavier, finishing with just seven points and nine rebounds. 

Texas A&M reached the championship game with wins over eighth-seeded Alcorn State, No. 5 seed Oregon, No. 2 seed Wake Forest and No. 4 seed Washington State.