College Basketball: Robert Morris upsets No. 5 St. Xavier 82-76
BY STEVE MILLAR For Sun-Times Media February 12, 2014 11:28PM
St. Xavier's Michael Simpson shoots a free throw Wednesday. | SUPPLIE PHOTO
Updated: February 12, 2014 11:41PM
There were several occasions in Wednesday night’s game when St. Xavier looked poise to seize momentum against Robert Morris, with quick Cougars runs igniting the home crowd at the Shannon Center.
Yet every time, Robert Morris had the answer.
The Eagles took a 17-16 lead midway through the first half and never trailed again, upsetting the No. 5 Cougars 82-76 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference game.
Robert Morris (18-8, 9-6) avenged a 96-77 December loss to St. Xavier.
“Guys who normally shoot the ball well for us just didn’t tonight,” St. Xavier coach Tom O’Malley said. “We shot horribly at (38 percent). I thought we got a bit overanxious and rushed some shots.”
St. Xavier (23-3, 13-2) fell despite 30 points and eight rebounds from Brad Karp and 21 points from Michael Simpson.
Down 41-30 early in the second half, the Cougars went on a 13-3 run, Karp scoring five points – including a banked-in three-pointer while falling down at the shot-clock buzzer - and Josh Mawhorr (7 points) four, to pull within 44-43 with 13:25 to go.
Robert Morris had the answer, though, Jordan Hester and Demarko Nash canning treys to stretch the lead back to 54-47.
After the Eagles stretched the lead back to double digits, Simpson converted a three-point play then hit a three-pointer to pull the Cougars within 72-66 with 1:02 to go.
It was too little, too late, though as Robert Morris consistently beat the St. Xavier press for layups in the closing minutes.
“Last time we played them, we played a good first half and then they killed us in the second half,” Robert Morris coach Al Bruehl said. “We competed the whole game this time. Karp killed us last time. I thought we did a pretty good job on him (Wednesday), and he still scored 30.”
In a physical game, Robert Morris was assessed three technical fouls and a flagrant in the second half and had forward Courtney Jones ejected. St. Xavier’s Josh Mawhorr was also called for a technical.
St. Xavier’s Jack Krieger, who missed the beginning of the season while recovering from a torn ACL, went down with what appeared to be an injury to the same knee late in the game. O’Malley did not yet know the extent of the injury.
Tony Core added seven points for St. Xavier.
“We didn’t hit shots and they played really well,” Karp said. “You’ve got give them credit. We’ll bounce back from this, though. We’ll be back.”