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Men’s College Basketball: St. Xavier riding high with 15 straight wins

St. Xavier's Jack Krieger (33) Brad Karp defend during Monday night's game against Bellevue. | Supplied photo

St. Xavier's Jack Krieger (33) and Brad Karp defend during Monday night's game against Bellevue. | Supplied photo

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Updated: February 25, 2014 6:29AM



St. Xavier’s winning streak was in serious jeopardy Saturday in Bourbonnais, but Jack Krieger stepped up when seemingly everyone else in a Cougars jersey had an off day.

Krieger scored a career-high 31 points — burying five three-pointers — and Brad Karp hit the game-winning free throw with 6.5 seconds left as the Cougars escaped with a 68-67 win over Olivet Nazarene.

St. Xavier (19-2, 9-1 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference), ranked fourth in NAIA Division II, followed that Wednesday with a 71-55 win over Calumet College of St. Joseph, stretching its win streak to 15 games.

“We’re definitely gaining more and more confidence as we keep winning,” Krieger said. “We know we have a good team, and we have guys we can count on throughout our lineup. Our bench has done a great job.”

The Cougars haven’t lost since Krieger returned Nov. 29 from a torn ACL.

Center Josh Mawhorr has returned to the lineup after missing three games because of an injury.

Hazel Crest native Munir Smith stepped up in a big way in Mawhorr’s absence, scoring 12 points in a win over Indiana-South Bend and 13 in a victory over Purdue-North Central.

St. Xavier hosts St. Francis at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Finding the combination

In his first game back on the South Suburban sideline since suffering a “mini stroke”, coach John Pigatti substituted liberally Saturday.

“We went with the posse substitutions (subbing five new players in at once), because a lot of guys were getting a lot of playing time while I was gone so I figured I’d keep giving them more.”

After the Bulldogs (18-3) struggled to put away Moraine Valley in a 66-59 win, that experiment may be over.

“We’re not going to do that again,” Pigatti said. “It all comes to fruition. The good guys, the guys that are supposed to play, are going to play and the other guys are going to sit on the bench.”

Cardiac kids

Forty minutes rarely have been enough to settle things of late when St. Francis takes the court.

The Saints (9-11, 6-4 CCAC) have gone to overtime in three of their last four games, the latest an 86-76 win Wednesday over Judson. Chris Miller scored 22 points while Edvinas Presniakovas had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The right track

With its 60-53 victory Thursday night over Waubonsee, Prairie State stretched its winning streak to three.

Thursday’s homecourt victory for the Pioneers (6-14, 3-2 Skyway Conference) came on the heels of Tuesday’s 79-71 win over College of Lake County and Saturday’s 68-66 decision over McHenry County.

Rodney Smith had 26 points and seven rebounds Thursday for Prairie State. Adrian Jeffries (Morgan Park) had 21 points Saturday while Thornwood product Joe Hughes returned from injury to score 24 Tuesday.



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