Sat, Mar. 7, 2009 - [Women's Basketball]
CHICAGO - Behind a game-high 34 points and nine rebounds by junior forward Erin Hannemann (Homer Glen, Ill./Providence Catholic), the No. 7 ranked and No. 1 seeded Saint Xavier University women's basketball team defeated No. 2 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.), 86-69, to claim the 2009 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Women's Basketball Tournament and earn an automatic bid to the 2009 NAIA Division I National Tournament. The Cougars (25-4 overall) trailed by one, 17-16, with 9:28 left in the first half before a 32-15 scoring run to close out the half gave them a 48-32 halftime lead and they sustained a double-digit advantage the remainder of the contest leading by as many as 22 points in the second half. It was the fifth CCAC Tournament championship for Saint Xavier in the last seven seasons.
Sophomore point guard Alex Barone (Joliet, Ill./Marian Catholic) also had a stellar day for the Cougars narrowing missing a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Sophomore guard Shalonda Young (Chicago, Ill./Crane Tech) also recorded 13 points, while junior guard Kathlyn McClain (Oak Forest, Ill./Converse College/Marian Catholic) finished in double figures in scoring as well with 10 points. Senior forward Abiola Amure (Chicago, Ill./St. Scholastica) led SXU on the boards with 12 rebounds. The Fighting Saints had one player score in double figures in Saturday's championship with junior forward Kaci Baird posting 12 points, while junior guard Jacqie Storm had nine points and team-best 11 rebounds. The Cougars shot an impressive 51 percent (31-for-61) from the field Saturday, while USF shot 32 percent (23-for-71) on the day hitting just two of its 20 three-point attempts.
St. Francis jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the opening two minutes before Saint Xavier fought back and tied the game, 7-7, at the 15-minute mark of the first half. The game was tight over the next six minutes before SXU made its big scoring run late in the first half to build its 16-point halftime lead. The Cougars extended their lead to 22 points in the first three minutes of the second half before USF made a run of its own and cut the lead to 12, 65-53, on a lay-up by junior guard Anna Sears with 10:21 to play in the game. Over the next three minutes, SXU pushed its lead back up to 19 points, 75-56, but the Fighting Saints still would not go away cutting the lead down to 11, 75-64, with four minutes remaining. That was as close as things would get the rest of the way as a big lay-up by Hannemann stalled any further attempt at a late USF rally. Saint Xavier (25-4 overall/9-1 CCAC) now awaits its seed for the upcoming 2009 NAIA Women's Basketball Division I National Tournament in Jackson, Tenn. The 32-team event kicks off on Wednesday, March 18, and the Cougars will make their seventh consecutive appearance since 2003.