CHICAGO - Junior forward Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the No. 8 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team to a 76-66 victory over Ashford University (Iowa) Saturday afternoon in the first game of the two-day SXU Holiday Classic at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars (12-3 overall) frustrated the visiting Saints with tough defense, which helped lead to 17 Ashford turnovers. Stuut has now topped the 30-point threshold three times this season and posted 10 double-doubles. SXU is riding a seven-game win streak and stayed perfect in the month of December (7-0) with Saturday's victory.
Junior guard Suzie Broski (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) was the other Saint Xavier player to reach double figures in scoring with 14 points to go along with her five rebounds. Senior point guard Jordan Brandt (Winamac, Ind./Winamac) had a solid all-around game with five assists, four rebounds and three steals; while senior forward Chrissy Heine (Hampshire, Ill./Hampshire) provided a nice lift off the bench with six points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
The Cougars struggled early falling behind by nine points, 16-7, in the opening seven minutes of action. However, SXU used a 14-5 run to tie the game, 21-21, at the 8:27 mark of the first half. The Cougars finished the final five minutes of the frame strong as well scoring 15 points over the stretch to build a 43-34 halftime lead. SXU led by double figures for a majority of the second half with the Saints unable to get closer than seven points the rest of the way. Junior guard Madison Wagner led Ashford with 20 points hitting all 12 of her free throw attempts in the game.
In the Classic's second game Saturday, Robert Morris University used a strong first half to pull away and defeat Lourdes University (Ohio), 94-75. Junior forward Yolanda De La Torre had the hot hand for RMU posting 27 points along with 10 rebounds and five blocks. The Eagles also got nice performances from senior guards Tikeyiah Johnson and Celeste Jones. Johnson finished with 26 points and five assists, while Jones turned in 19 points and game-high nine assists. Robert Morris shot an impressive 55 percent (37-for-67) from the field in Saturday's win.
Saint Xavier (12-3 overall/4-1 CCAC) continues the Holiday Classic on Sunday, December 29, with a game against Lourdes University. The game is scheduled for a 12 p.m. tip-off on Bob Hallberg Court.