CINCINNATI -- Justin Martin scored 16 points and set the tone with several gritty plays on Wednesday night, sparking Xavier to a 79-66 victory over Fordham and keeping the Musketeers unbeaten at home in Atlantic 10 play.
Semaj Christon scored 19 points, and Xavier (14-9, 7-3) had five players in double figures while remaining perfect at home in A-10 games. Xavier is 52-1 in A-10 games at the Cintas Center since the 2007-08 season.The Musketeers have won their last 11 games against the Rams (6-19, 2-8), and lead the series 23-3.Mandell Thomas scored 23 points for Fordham, which has lost five in a row and eight of its last nine games while missing one of its top players.The Rams played their seventh straight game without senior forward Chris Gaston, an A-10 preseason first-team choice. He missed six games after having knee surgery in November, and has been bothered by the injury. Without Gaston, the Rams have struggled.Point guard Branden Frazier has taken over the offense, leading the team with 15.2 points per game. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and a floater in the lane during an 11-0 run that gave Fordham a 15-8 lead. Xavier missed eight of its first 11 shots, helping the Rams get off to their fast start.Xavier point guard Dee Davis picked up his second foul and went to the bench with 13:05 left in the half, costing Xavier one of its scoring threats. The Musketeers then found their range, making 11 of their last 16 shots in the half.Martin sparked a 23-7 run with a little hustle. The 6-foot-6 forward dived onto the media table courtside going for a loose ball and wound up laying upside-down on the table. A few seconds later, he scored the go-ahead basket. Martin also had a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws during the run.Christon had eight points during the spurt, which made it 38-28, the biggest lead by either team in the half. Luka Zivkovic's 3-pointer with 1 second left cut it to 38-32 at halftime.Martin opened the second half with another 3-pointer, giving him back-to-back double-digit scoring games. He had 15 in a 73-65 win at Duquesne, when the Musketeers overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half.Jeff Robinson made a fast-break dunk and converted the free throw for a three-point play that pushed it to 54-42 with 8:38 to go. Christon followed with another fast-break dunk that forced Fordham to call a timeout.After falling behind by 15, Fordham trimmed it to 69-63 with 1:56 left behind Thomas, who hit a 3-pointer and a driving bank shot. Christon made a pair of free throws and a fast-break layup that put it away.---Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay