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Women’s College Basketball: No. 5 St. Xavier takes down Trinity

St. Xavier’s Jordan Brandt tries get away from Trinity’s Holly BoetsmSaturday Palos Heights. | JEFF VORVA/For sun-times media

St. Xavier’s Jordan Brandt tries to get away from Trinity’s Holly Boetsma on Saturday in Palos Heights. | JEFF VORVA/For sun-times media

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Updated: April 24, 2014 3:30AM



The regular season ended for St. Xavier with a 61-43 road victory over Trinity Christian College on Saturday in Palos Heights.

Now it gets serious.

In the next couple of weeks, the Cougars will try to reach a pretty lofty goal.

“Our goal is a national championship,” junior guard Morgan Stuut said. “We were just talking about it in the locker room. Coach [Bob] Hallberg said it’s a wide-open field.’’

The Cougars, ranked fifth in the nation in the NAIA, need a strong showing in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, which begins Monday, to advance to the nationals. SXU (26-4 overall and 16-2 in the conference) is the second seed and received a bye in the league tourney. It will host a quarterfinal game on Wednesday.

The Cougars are hoping to play better than they did on Saturday. For the first six minutes of the game, St. Xavier, which came into the game averaging 80.4 points per game, was held scoreless after missing its first nine shots against Trinity Christian.

But Margaret Wilder came off the bench and broke the ice with a basket with 13 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half, and the Cougars went on to score 28 more in the half and 31 more in the second half.

The start left veteran coach Hallberg scratching his head.

“This week we had our best shooting practices of the week — it was boom, boom, boom,” Hallberg said. “I can’t figure out why we came out so cold.

“We tried a lot of different combinations in this game, and some of the younger players — the future of this program — played more. What have I got to complain about? We’re 26-4 and fifth in the nation. It was a great regular season and we weren’t expecting we would do this well.’’

Stuut finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Suzie Broski came up with 14 points and Jordan Brandt 11. Meaghan McMahon hauled down seven boards.

Trinity finished 7-22 overall and 3-15 in the league and was denied a spot in the league playoffs, which is taking 10 of its 13 teams. But the future is bright. Second-year coach Reggie Chapple had no seniors on his roster. He went to war with seven sophomores, five juniors and five freshmen.

Junior Caitlin Cody had 15 points for the Trolls and sophomore Allie Paluchniak added 13.



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