CHICAGO – Coming off the bench to score 18 points, junior guard Niara Harris (Richton Park, Ill./Robert Morris/Rich South) shot an impressive 5-for-7 from the floor in helping lead No. 12 ranked Saint Xavier University to a convincing 82-49 victory over Ashford University (Iowa) on the first day of the three-day SXU Holiday Women's Basketball Tournament Thursday evening at the Shannon Center in Chicago. Sophomore forward Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) also had a big night for the Cougars recording her eighth double-double of the season with game-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Trailing 21-12 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, SXU closed out the frame on an 18-4 run to take a 30-25 lead into halftime and then used another 26-8 run in the second half to pull away for good.
Senior guard Romisha Taylor (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) was a huge spark defensively for the Cougars recording a game-best four steals in addition to dishing out a game-high five assists. Freshman forward Caitlin McMahon (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) also was tough in a reserve role for Saint Xavier dropping six points and pulling down seven rebounds. Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half each hitting just 32 percent of their shots. However, the second half was a different story as SXU heated up and connected on 57 percent (21-for-37) of its attempts from the floor. The Saints hit just 29 percent (8-for-28) of their shots after the break. The Cougars kept the defensive pressure on high throughout the ballgame coming up with 14 steals, which helped lead to 27 Ashford turnovers. SXU had all 10 of its active players record at least two points and a rebound in Thursday's game.
Saint Xavier (10-3 overall/7-3 CCAC) continues tournament play on Friday, December 28, with a game against Huntington University (Ind.). The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at the Shannon Center.