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Local Colleges: St. Xavier’s women’s basketball team at home in zone

St. Xavier's Maloree Johns| Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media

St. Xavier's Maloree Johnson | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 3, 2014 5:02PM



St. Xavier’s women’s basketball team has been frowned upon by some for playing a 2-3 zone defense. That suits the Cougars just fine.

St. Xavier is 20-3 overall, 10-1 in the Chicagoland Catholic Athletic Conference, riding a 15-game win streak and ranked No. 8 in the latest NAIA poll heading into Saturday’s home game against No. 6 Cardinal Stritch (20-2, 10-1).

“I’ve been doing this a long time and people don’t think you can win with a zone,” St. Xavier coach Bob Hallberg said. “Syracuse has done pretty well with it over the years. You might as well do what you are good at.”

The Cougars are holding the opposition to 37 percent shooting from the field. Cardinal Stritch is shooting 43 percent from the field.

“We love our zone,” Cougars guard Morgan Stuut said. “We talk so well. I trust whoever is around me to get there. It’s awesome. We flow so much better with our zone and it throws teams off. Shooting teams think they can shoot us out of a zone. We play real aggressive in our zone so it makes it tough on an offense.”

“We feel we’re capable with Jordan (Brandt) and Maloree (Johnson) out front of playing a real aggressive zone defense,” Hallberg said.

The winner Saturday will have an inside track to the CCAC regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament, which begins Feb. 25.

Dedication to defense

St. Francis is playing better defense and its translating into victories. The Saints (6-18, 4-7 CCAC) had won three straight games before losing twice heading into a home game Saturday against Calumet College.

“We’ve played some tough teams really close and we’ve been defending better lately,” Saints coach Samantha Quigley said. “I think we’re on an upswing.”

During the win streak, the Saints allowed just 60 points per game, 15 points fewer than its season opponents’ average. Now that the defense is improving, it’s time for the Saints to make some strides on the offensive end. The Saints are shooting just 36 percent from the field on the season.

“The biggest thing we tell them is if they are not shooting well, get in the gym and try something different on the court,” Quigley said.

Inside the numbers

A look inside the numbers and it’s easy to see why Lewis is ranked No. 20 in the latest NCAA Division II poll.

The Flyers lead the Great Lakes Valley Conference in rebounds and assists and are second in blocked shots. Lewis is 14-3, 8-1 in the GLVC.

In a recent win over Southern Indiana, Jess Reinhart became the 20th player in Lewis women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career points. Reinhart has 1,007 points for her career.

Flying Flyers

The Lewis women’s track and field team got NCAA Provisional marks from long jumpers Samantha McGaha and Kayla King at the Wildcat Invitational at Indiana Wesleyan. McGaha was second with a leap of 18 feet, 53/4 inches, followed by King’s third-place mark of 18-51/2.

The Lewis women’s tennis team pushed Division I Northern Illinois to the brink in its spring opener, before dropping a 5-2 decision at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora.



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