Palos Heights, Ill. - Despite shooting just 25 percent (6-for-24) from the field in first-half action, the Saint Xavier University men's basketball team rebounded after halftime and captured a 78-67 win over Viterbo University (Wis.) Friday night at the Trinity Christian College Mitchell Classic in Palos Heights, Ill. The Cougars (3-0 overall) shot a blistering 63 percent (19-for-30) from the field to score 53 points in the second half and erase a seven-point halftime deficit (32-25). Sophomore point guard Roosevelt Green (Markham, Ill./Tinley Park) led the way for SXU with 16 points and four assists. Senior guard Ryan Ambrose led all scorers with 31 points to pace the V-Hawks in their season opener.
Freshman guard Brad Karp (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) and junior forward Zach Opheim (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) both scored in double figures for Saint Xavier Friday with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Junior guard Ed Gilgenbach (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac) also had a solid outing for the Cougars finishing with nine points and team-best seven rebounds. SXU got off to an extremely slow start falling behind 14-3 just over five minutes into the game. The Cougars clawed back and closed to within a point, 16-15, on a pair of free throws by Karp with 10:49 remaining in the first half. However, Viterbo went on a 13-1 run to build back its double-digit advantage with four minutes remaining before halftime.
A V-Hawks three-pointer right after halftime had SXU down by 10 points, 35-25, but the Cougars responded quickly and tied the game, 41-41, just five minutes later. A jumper by Green with just under 13 minutes to play put Saint Xavier ahead by one, 45-44. The Cougars would hold the lead the rest of the way and outscored the V-Hawks, 30-4, in the paint in second-half action. Free throws were also key to SXU's second-half success hitting 12 of its 14 attempts (86 percent) after the break.
Saint Xavier (3-0 overall) wraps up play in the Mitchell Classic on Saturday, November 13, with a game against St. Louis Christian College (Mo.). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of Trinity Christian College.