By Kyle Soppe
The Xavier Musketeers have struggled at various points this season, but showed some great signs this past week. XU played A-10 preseason co-champion Temple hard in the first half, and while the Owls did outlast the Musketeers, there was a level of confidence gained by hanging with the conferences elite.
Junior forward Jessica Pachko was a big reason for Xavier’s success. She paced her squad in the first half against Temple with six points and five rebounds, and Xavier trailed by only eight. While Temple would go on to win by a final score of 64-38, the Owls had no answer for Pachko. She finished the contest with a team high 12 points and added six rebounds. Pachko converted six of her 11 field goal attempts and added two steals. But her best was yet to come.
Pachko teamed up with senior guard Tyeasha Moss to snap Xavier’s 10 game losing streak, with a 67-57 victory at Rhode Island. While Moss deserves credit (she poured in a career high 27 points), it was Pachko who was the scoring threat in the paint. Her efficiency opened up the outside game, and her defense limited the bigs of Rhode Island. Pachko made six of her seven shot attempts (totaling 14 points) and committed only one turnover. Her ability to collapse the Rams defense allowed the ball to flow freely on the perimeter to the open player. On the other end of the court, Pachko and the Musketeers interior defense held Rhodies starting front court to 16 points in 47 minutes. Rhode Island’s starting forwards only managed 8 shot attempts, and were physically defended all night. Moss’ career night certainly led the Musketeers, but for every explosive game by a guard, there is a big who makes it possible.
Pachko, who led the team in rebounding this past week, averages 9.9 points per game to go along with her team high 8.4 rebounds. Her efficiency is nothing new, as she is shooting 51% from the field and 78.4% from the free throw line. Along with Moss, Pachko is the only other player to start every game this season for the Musketeers. Her game isn’t likely to make any highlight films, but what she brings to the table is grit and passion, something hard to quantify in numbers. Her style of play is why Xavier has looked more competitive of late, and why they can give any team in the A-10 a fight this season.
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