Men’s College Basketball: St. Xavier holds off pesky Trinity Christian
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media February 22, 2014 8:00PM
St. Xavier’s Jack Krieger tries to get by Trinity Christian College’s Evan Pratt in Palos Heights. | JEFF VORVA/FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: March 24, 2014 6:46AM
One week after shocking the NAIA nation by taking the No. 1 team in the country, Cardinal Stritch, to overtime in a loss, Trinity Christian College was hoping for another eye-opening performance against No. 7 St. Xavier University on Saturday afternoon.
The young Trolls, who have just one senior and seven freshmen on their 12-man roster, were within four of the Cougars with 6 minutes, 18 seconds left, but SXU senior Michael Simpson had six points in the final five minutes to help his team to a 70-62 victory in Palos Heights.
Simpson’s steal and layup with 15 seconds left helped seal the win for the Cougars (26-4 overall, 16-3 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference).
“That felt good,” the 5-foot-7 Simpson said. “I wanted to dunk the ball, but I’ll take a layup.’’
The Cougars are the second-seeded team in the conference tourney and will host either Holy Cross or St. Francis on Wednesday.
TCC finished its season 9-21 overall and 5-14 in the conference and did not qualify for the postseason tournament.
“We pushed a lot of good teams at the end of the year,” Trolls third-year coach Brandon Nichol said. “After that Cardinal Stritch game, all the other conference coaches called me to ask me how we are doing this.
“We lost bad to St. Xavier the first time we played them (111-84 Jan. 8) and this was a good measuring stick.”
SXU has won 27 straight games against the Trolls and was led by Brad Karp and Jack Krieger, who both had 16 points. Simpson had 13 points and Josh Mawhorr added 11. Karp finished with 13 rebounds and Krieger added four steals.
SXU coach Tom O’Malley knew his team was in for a war.
“They have been playing some great basketball the last couple of weeks,” he said of TCC. “It’s a shame that they can’t get into the tournament because they are a lot better than a lot of teams in this league.’’
Junior Cody Rohrer led a balanced attack for TCC with 10 points. Senior Jake VanDenBerg closed his career with eight points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Trey Johnson and junior Ezekiel Odonkor each added eight points.