Women’s College Basketball: St. Xavier shares wealth in win over St. Francis
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media January 25, 2014 4:52PM
St. Xavier's Jordan Brandt goes to the basket despite pressure from St. Francis' Alexis Brown. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2014 6:53AM
St. Xavier was in a sharing mood during its Chicagoland Catholic Athletic Conference match-up with St. Francis on Saturday in Chicago.
The result was a resounding 67-42 victory for the No. 7 Cougars, who haven’t lost since November. St. Xavier, winner of 14 straight games, improved to 19-3 overall and 9-1 in the CCAC. St. Francis had a three-game win streak halted and fell to 6-17, 4-6.
St. Xavier had 20 assists on 27 baskets and featured five players scoring between nine and 11 points.
“That’s what we have to do,” St. Xavier coach Bob Hallberg said. “We are known as a two-person team and the rest of the players stepped up tonight. We had real balance on offense today.”
Leading scorer Morgan Stuut came up with 11 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and two assists to lead the Cougars to their 16th win in the last 21 meetings with the Saints.
“All my teammates stepped up and we needed that,” Stuut said. “That was the key. When they thought they had Suzie (Broski, second leading scorer) or me shut down, the rest of the team really stepped up.”
Jordan Brandt and Caitlin McMahon added 10 points apiece. Broski and Maloree Johnson each chipped in nine.
“That’s been the pattern the last few games of sharing the ball,” Hallberg said. “I think we are a very unselfish team.”
“We pride ourselves on that and we don’t mind sharing the ball,” Stuut said. “I trust my teammates.”
“They had players step up,” St. Francis coach Sam Quigley said. “We did a good job on their two scorers but other girls stepped up for them.”
St. Xavier’s defense was just as effective, limiting St. Francis to 23 percent shooting (14-of-60). The Saints turned the ball over 23 times and went 2-of-19 from three-point range.
“We turned the ball over too much today,” Quigley said. “They were active up top in their zone defense and we struggled with it.”
“We didn’t give them a lot of good looks today,” Hallberg said.
St. Xavier scored the first nine points of the game. Two free throws by Brandt gave the hosts a 9-0 lead with 17:08 left in the first half. Kaitlyn Ray’s jumper seconds later were the first points of the game for St. Francis.
A four-minute scoring drought by the Saints allowed the Cougars to take a 24-12 lead on a three-pointer by Niara Harris with 7:19 left in the half. St. Xavier settled for a 33-18 lead at the break.
Stuut’s steal and layup with 14:29 left in the second half pushed the Cougars’ advantage to 45-24, forcing a Saints timeout. The Saints committed 18 turnovers and made just 11 baskets through the first 30 minutes of the game.
Katie Gonnering’s 12 points and 12 rebounds led the Saints. Cydney Weisflog added 10 points.
“They are No. 7 for a reason,” Quigley said. “They are a good, tough team. It’s going to be a battle every night in this conference.”