College Basketball: St. Xavier rolls to 84-72 win over St. Francis
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media January 25, 2014 6:02PM
St. Xavier's Jack Krieger drives to the basket Saturday. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2014 6:53AM
Basketball is a game of numbers.
Win the individual battles and you put yourself in position to win the game.
No. 4 St. Xavier did just that during an 84-72 Chicagoland Catholic Athletic Conference win over St. Francis on Saturday in Chicago.
The Cougars outscored the Saints 44-22 in the paint, won the rebounding battle (43-29) and committed fewer turnovers (20-15) to run their marks to 20-2 overall and 10-1 in the CCAC. St. Francis fell to 9-12, 6-5.
“St. Francis is always well coached so you can’t take anything away from them,” St. Xavier coach Tom O’Malley said. “We’re happy to come away from here with a win.”
“This was a battle of little things,” St. Francis coach Ryan Marks said. “Their defensive pressure was disruptive and there were a lot of little things they beat us on. They did a terrific job on the offensive glass.”
St. Xavier had 14 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 points.
“I thought our defense after the first few minutes got after it and was really tough tonight,” O’Malley said. “And (Brad) Karp and (Jack) Krieger were just warriors. They really got after it tonight.”
Two free throws by Karp gave the Cougars a 26-13 lead with 9:05 to play in the first half. The lead was 33-22 when the Saints rallied to close the half.
USF outscored SXU 11-4 to close the gap to 37-33 after two Chris Miller free throws. Krieger’s three-pointer off a second chance gave SXU a 40-33 advantage at the half.
The Saints scored the first eight points of the second half to take a 41-40 lead on a three-pointer by Ed Presniakovas with 17:44 to play in the game. Leading 47-45, the Cougars outscored the Saints 27-11 over the next eight minutes to take command. Krieger’s free throw extended the lead to 74-56 with 6:12 left in the game.
“This is a good team,” Marks said. “We knew we would have to play terrific to win.”
Karp’s 22 points and 12 rebounds led the Cougars in both categories. Krieger added 21 points, six rebounds and four steals. Michael Simpson chipped in 11 points and six assists before fouling out.
“We came out with a game plan,” Krieger said. “We wanted to stay structured, play defense, weather the storm and pull it out and we did that against a pretty good St. Francis team.”
Chris Miller (23 points), Presniakovas (17) and Jo Jo Ballestero (11) all reached double figures for the Saints.