Joliet, Ill. – A huge offensive rebound and lay-up by senior guard Melissa Draper off a missed free throw attempt with one second remaining in regulation spelled doom for the No. 8 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team in a tough 57-55 road loss to Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) rival University of St. Francis (Ill.) Wednesday night at the Sullivan Center in Joliet, Ill. The missed free throw came off the hands of USF sophomore forward Katie Gonnering, who made her first attempt after being fouled with 2.2 seconds to play and the host Fighting Saints trailing by a point, 55-54. Even though the Cougars led for a majority of the game, the team struggled offensively through large portions of the contest hitting just 35 percent of its shot attempts (23-for-66) allowing St. Francis to stay within striking distance.
Sophomore guard Suzie Broski (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) and junior guard Niara Harris (Richton Park, Ill./Robert Morris/Rich South) were Saint Xavier's leading scorers Wednesday and the only two Cougars to score in double figures. Broski scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Harris chipped in 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. Sophomore guard/forward Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) was huge on the boards recording a game-best 17 rebounds in addition to her five points, three assists and three blocks. USF freshman guard Alexis Brown hit four three-pointers en route to a game-high 14 points. The Fighting Saints finished the game with 54 rebounds compared to 42 by the Cougars. Things looked bright early on for SXU after jumping out to a 17-4 lead over the first six minutes of action, but lengthy scoring droughts by the visitors allowed USF to chip away at the deficit and take the lead five minutes into the second half. The Cougars led by four, 55-51, with 1:21 to play, but a three-pointer by Brown made it a one-point game heading into the final minute.
Saint Xavier (21-5 overall/15-5 CCAC) heads north to Deerfield, Ill., on Saturday, February 9, for a conference match-up with Trinity International University (Ill.). The game is slated to tip off at 5:30 p.m. at the Meyer Sports Complex in Deerfield.