CHICAGO – Sophomore guard Brad Karp (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) led all scorers with 31 points as the Saint Xavier University men's basketball team pulled away late to upset No. 3 ranked Robert Morris University (Ill.), 99-91, in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action Saturday afternoon at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars (22-8 overall/7-3 CCAC) scored 56 points in the second half to capture the big victory on "Senior Day." In fact, senior guard Ed Gilgenbach (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac) was a key contributor for SXU as well posting eight points, 12 rebounds and six assists. It was the first victory for the men's basketball program against a NAIA top five ranked foe since knocking off No. 3 Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.), 78-68, in the second round of the 2005 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship on March 18, 2005, in Kansas City, Mo.
There was no shortage of impressive performers on the Saint Xavier roster Saturday with many players stepping up to help propel the upset. Junior point guard Roosevelt Green (Markham, Ill./Tinley Park) had 15 points and game-high nine assists, while junior point guard Anthony Grant (South Holland, Ill./Prairie State CC/Thornridge) came off the bench to drop 17 points off efficient 7-for-10 shooting from the field. Junior forward Dominique Harvey (Chicago, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) also had a huge game for SXU with a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds as well as a game-high six steals. The Eagles were led by senior point guard Diante Watkins with 30 points and seven assists.
RMU jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead in the game's opening three minutes paced by five quick points from Watkins. However, led by a pair of lay-ups by senior forward Brian Sherwood (Oak Forest, Ill./Judson University/Oak Forest), the Cougars stormed back and tied the game, 10-10, at the 15-minute mark of the first half. The game would stay close over the next 10 minutes of play before four straight points by Harvey and a three-pointer by Karp gave SXU a 36-27 lead with just four minutes to play in the frame. A Watkins lay-up with seven seconds remaining in the half made it a one-point game, 41-40, but Grant would beat the buzzer for a lay-up of his own to give the Cougars a three-point edge at the half, 43-40.
SXU never trailed after the break and built an eight-point lead early in the second half. However, Robert Morris definitely made things interesting tying the game, 69-69, with 11 minutes left to play in regulation. Karp hit a three-pointer on Saint Xavier's next possession to spark a 9-0 run over the game's next two minutes. The Eagles rallied again and cut it to a single point again, 78-77, on a jumper by Watkins with just over six minutes to play. This time, Green provided the three-pointer that sparked another big run for the Cougars and it proved to be the nail in the coffin. The run gave SXU as high as a 15-point edge, 95-80, following a three-point play by Karp with 1:18 remaining.
Saint Xavier (22-8 overall/7-3 CCAC) will take either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed into next week's CCAC Tournament after finishing in a tie for second place in the conference standings with Olivet Nazarene University. Since both teams share the exact same records against conference foes this season, then the final seeding for those two spots will be determined by a coin flip at Sunday‘s conference coaches‘ meeting.