CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Romain Sato scored 23 points and keyed a decisive first-half run as 11th-ranked Xavier rolled to an 87-48 victory over St. Peter's in the first round of the Preseason NIT.
Sato had 10 points during the first 7:37 as Xavier (1-0) jumped to a 20-5 lead and never looked back. The junior from Central Africa finished the first half with 15 points and six rebounds as the Musketeers carried a 36-17 cushion into the break.
"Coming into this game, our focus was on defense," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "I thought that (holding St. Peter's to 17 points in the first half) was a good thing for us."
Sato, who led the team with nine rebounds, gave Xavier a 7-0 lead just under three minutes into the game with a 3-pointer and pushed the Musketeers' lead to 16-2 with his second three of the half, coming out of a timeout at 15:02.
Two-time Atlantic 10 Player of the Year David West added 21 points, going over the 1,500 mark, for Xavier, which won its 13th consecutive season opener.
West, an All-American candidate, had eight points in the first half and came out of the break with five of the Musketeers' first seven for a 43-25 lead.
"This is our first game and we're going to get better," West said. "Teams are going to have to pick their poison."
David Young drained a 3-pointer at the 15:10 mark of the second half, sparking a 15-4 run by Xavier. Sato added eight points during the burst and Keith Jackson had four, including a layup at the 9:21 mark that made it 62-32.
Lionel Chalmers had nine points and five assists and Anthony Miles added eight points for Xavier, which shot 50 percent from the field (35-of-70). Young and Jackson each finished with six points.
Freshman forward Keydren Clark had four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 17 points for St. Peter's (0-1).
Clark, a standout at Rice High School, which won the NYC Catholic title and an NY State Federation title, played 35 minutes in his collegiate debut and went 6-of-22 from the floor.
After scoring just two points in the first half on 1-of-7 shooting, Clark nailed three consecutive 3-pointers, bringing the Peacocks within 43-28. It was the closest St. Peter's got in the second half.
Regis Devonish added nine points and Devin Thompson and Drew Dudley each had six for St. Peter's, which shot just 31.7 percent (20-of-63).
The Musketeers, who are participating in their second Preseason NIT, will face Stanford on Wednesday in the second round.