Men’s College Basketball: St. Xavier falls to No. 1 Cardinal Stritch
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media February 1, 2014 6:12PM
St. Xavier's Brad Karp drives to the basket. | SUPPLIED PHOTO
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:54PM
A 1-for-18 shooting performance sure is some good motivation.
But for St. Xavier’s Michael Simpson it was more than that.
It was the tough day from the field in a November loss. It was that the loss was to his previous team. But a rematch with the No. 1 NAIA team in the nation? The defending NAIA champs?
The motivation was there, but when Cardinal Stritch needed it most, the No. 1 team in the country did what it’s supposed to do: It answered and answered quickly.
Cardinal Stritch came back from a double-digit first half deficit to hold off No. 4 St. Xavier in a 93-84 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference win.
“We have to want it a little more,” Simpson said. “We had some plays with some miscommunications, some letdowns and Cardinal Stritch capitalized. We’ve got to pick it up defensively, and we can only get better.”
Having transferred to St. Xavier this season, Simpson finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Cougars (21-3, 11-2) with Brad Karp (25 point, 9 rebounds) and Josh Mawhorr (19 points) contributing.
An energetic first half had the Cougars up 41-37 at the break, but the lead was short-lived. Cardinal Stritch rattled off an 11-2 spurt to go up 48-43 with 17:25 left in the half.
“We lost the momentum,” Simpson said. “We got down on ourselves when they scored. When they went up, we got lackadaisical.”
St. Xavier was constantly chasing from there on in, even drawing within two points at 81-79 with 3:43 left, but the Wolves came through time and time again.
Tony Smit drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key for Stritch, the Wolves going up 84-79.
“We couldn’t get over that hump,” Karp said. “We needed that one six-point run and we didn’t so we’re battling back uphill. You can only do it so many times.”
Cardinal Stritch (21-3, 13-0) closed the game on a 12-3 spurt.
“Two options here, we can build or break,” Karp said. “I like how we responded in the locker room. We’re upset, but come Monday at practice, we’ll build from this.”
Tyler Semenas (26 points), Smit (17), Derek Semenas (16) and Garrett Borgrud (14) led Cardinal Stritch.