Frankfort, Ky. – Led by 16 points from senior guard Marissa Young (Monroe, Wis./St. Joseph's College/Monroe), No. 14 ranked Saint Xavier University jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead and never looked back defeating No. 22 Campbellsville University (Ky.), 75-57, in first-round action of the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship presented by Kentuckytourism.com Thursday morning at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky. The Cougars (24-8 overall) were on fire offensively from start to finish hitting 55 percent (33-for-60) of its shots from the field. However, it was not just an offensive effort with the SXU defense racking up 13 blocks and holding one of the NAIA's top scoring offenses (No. 7 averaging 77.1 points per game) to 20 points under its season scoring average.
"We got off to a quick start and shot the ball extremely well," said Saint Xavier University women's basketball coach Bob Hallberg. "The first half helped us relax and build up some momentum, which we carried into and throughout the second half."
In addition to Young, freshmen guard/forwards Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) and Suzie Broski (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) were also instrumental in the victory. Stuut shot an impressive 7-for-9 from the field for 15 points, while Broski was 6-for-10 from the floor for 14 points. Senior forward Brittany Jones (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) was a force to be reckoned with down low posting nine rebounds and school-record-tying seven blocked shots. Junior point guard Romisha Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) was key distributing the basketball logging a game-high seven assists, while senior forward Mary Kusner (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) was huge off the bench Thursday going 7-for-11 for 14 points.
The Cougars came out of the gate on fire hitting nine of their first 13 shots, including a trio of three-pointers, to take a 21-7 lead in the game's first eight minutes. Saint Xavier was able to sustain the double-digit lead for a large portion of the first half using a swarming defense to hold the Tigers to just 24 percent (8-for-34) shooting in the opening frame. With SXU leading 37-27 at the break, Campbellsville was able to close the gap to eight points, 41-33, with just under 17 minutes remaining in the game. However, the Cougars would go on a 28-6 scoring run over the game's next 10 minutes to build a 69-39 advantage. Stuut capped the scoring surge with a lay-up assisted by Young with 7:18 to play.
Saint Xavier (24-8 overall) will take on the winner of today's 12:30 p.m. (eastern) match-up between No. 4 Westmont College (Calif.) and Lyon College (Ark.). The second round game will tip off at 12:30 p.m. (eastern) at the Frankfort Convention Center on Friday, March 16.