By Rob Huizenga, Saint Xavier (Ill.) Sports Information Director
Bourbonnais, Ill. - Knocking off its third NAIA top-10 ranked team in less than a month, the No. 11 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team continued to roll claiming its eighth straight victory Thursday night in an 86-69 win over Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) frontrunner and No. 6 ranked Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) at McHie Arena in Bourbonnais, Ill. The Cougars (15-3 overall/10-3 CCAC) successfully slowed down the Tigers holding the NAIA's top scoring offense (103.2 points per game) to their worst offensive output of the season, nearly 35 points below their season average. With ONU coming into Thursday's contest also leading the nation in steals per game (21.9 spg), SXU used one of its opponent's strengths against them racking up 20 steals to help lead to 35 turnovers by the Tigers.
Sophomore guard/forward Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) led all scorers with 26 points, while also pulling down a game-best 12 rebounds for her 12th double-double effort of the season. Hitting half of her shot attempts from the floor (11-for-22) sophomore guard Suzie Broski (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) was also key to SXU's success Thursday finishing with 22 points. Senior point guard Romisha Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) had a stellar all-around outing for Saint Xavier as well posting 13 points and seven rebounds to go along with game-highs of seven assists and five steals. In her first career start, sophomore forward Margaret Wildner (Oak Lawn, Ill./Mother McAuley) proved she could be a difference maker as well scoring 11 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals. The Tigers had just one player score in double figures with sophomore forward Ashley Wilson notching 12 points.
Olivet built a 14-8 advantage over the game's first five minutes before Saint Xavier used a 7-0 run to take the lead on a lay-up by junior point guard Jordan Brandt (Winamac, Ind./Winamac) with 12:27 to play in the first half. Over the next five minutes of play, the two teams exchanged leads, but a pair of three-pointers by ONU junior guard Liz Bart put the hosts ahead, 30-24, at the 7:15 mark of the half. The Cougars clawed their way back though and took advantage of a cold spell by the Tigers to forge a 21-2 run over the game's next six minutes. Olivet regrouped in the final minute of the frame and went into the locker room at halftime trailing by eight, 45-37. The Tigers cut the deficit to four, 45-41, in the opening minute of the second half, but the rest of the game belonged to SXU as an 11-2 run helped push the lead into double figures for good. ONU shot 30 percent (21-for-71) from the field, including just 10 of its 49 three-point attempts (20 percent).
Saint Xavier (15-3 overall/10-3 CCAC) hosts a tough Roosevelt University squad on Saturday, January 12, in another key CCAC match-up. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Lakers bring a 16-4 overall record and 11-2 conference mark into the game and are receiving votes in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll.