CHICAGO – A lay-up by freshman point guard Kyle Huppe (Edgerton, Kan./Gardner Edgerton) with five seconds to play put the No. 11 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team ahead for good in a 98-96 thriller with Indiana University-East in the final game of the SXU Thanksgiving Classic Saturday afternoon on Bob Hallberg Court at the Shannon Center in Chicago. Senior guard Brad Karp (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) was magnificent again for the Cougars turning in game-bests of 30 points and five steals, while junior guard Jack Krieger (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) was lights out from beyond the arc draining six three-pointers en route to 24 points. Both teams shot at least 50 percent in the offensive shootout.
Senior point guard Michael Simpson (North Chicago, Ill./Cardinal Stritch/North Chicago) posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists, while sophomore forward Josh Mawhorr (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central) chipped in 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds. The Red Wolves were paced by senior guard Cody Banet and junior guard Tyler Fangman, each scoring 22 points. SXU jumped out to an early 13-5 lead in the first four minutes of play following a lay-up by Mawhorr. A three-pointer by Fangman with 13:27 left in the half gave the visitors their first lead of the game, 16-15. The Cougars went on a 27-12 run over the next seven minutes to take their largest lead of the game, 42-28, capped by another Mawhorr lay-up.
However, the Red Wolves stormed back again scoring 24 points in the final six minutes of the frame to tie the game, 52-52, heading into halftime. Saint Xavier built as high as a seven-point lead, 69-62, in the opening six minutes of the second half, but IU-East did not go away. A lay-up by sophomore guard Vasha Davis at the midpoint of the frame put the Red Wolves ahead again, 78-77. The game went back and forth the rest of the way with SXU never able to get above a four-point lead. With the game tied at 96-96 and under 10 seconds remaining, Krieger got a huge steal and threw a perfect pass ahead to Huppe for the go-ahead lay-up on the break-away. IU-East shot a three-pointer for the win in the final seconds, but it went off the back of the rim.
Saint Xavier (6-2 overall/0-1 CCAC) gets back to Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) play on Tuesday, December 3, with a home game against Trinity International University (Ill.). The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at the Shannon Center.