South Bend, Ind. – Key free throws by junior guard Maloree Johnson (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic), sophomore forward Caitlin McMahon (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and freshman guard Mikayla Leyden (Chicago, Ill./Trinity) in the final 30 seconds of regulation helped the No. 8 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team survive a 79-76 road scare against Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Holy Cross College (Ind.) Wednesday evening in South Bend, Ind. Junior forward Morgan Stuut (Marcellus, Mich./Three Rivers) paced the Cougars with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds, while McMahon posted a double-double effort of 15 points and 10 rebounds. The victory extends SXU's current win streak to 15 games.
Red-shirt freshman guard Sidney Prasse (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) provided a nice spark off the bench for the Cougars dropping in 11 points, including a pair of key three-pointers in the second half. The Saints had five different players score in double figures led by junior forward Maggie Gondeck with 20 points. The game was tight for most of the first half, but a late 13-4 surge by Saint Xavier in the final six minutes of the frame gave the visitors a 37-27 edge at the break. Holy Cross came out of the locker room on fire and used a 14-4 run over the opening four minutes of the second half to tie the game, 41-41. The Saints carried the momentum to the 12-minute mark building a six-point lead, 50-44, before SXU answered with a 15-4 run fueled by a pair of three-pointers by Prasse and a three-point play by McMahon.
Saint Xavier built its lead as high as nine points, 69-60, with just under five minutes to play, but Holy Cross was not done. The host Saints chipped away at the lead over the next two minutes and a pair of free throws by Gondeck made it a three-point game, 70-67, at the 3:28 mark. Back-to-back turnovers by the Cougars near the final minute mark of the game allowed the Saints to cut the lead to a point, 75-74, on a lay-up with 33 seconds remaining. Fortunately for SXU, just enough free throws fell in the final seconds to give the visitors the three-point win.
Saint Xavier (20-3 overall/10-1 CCAC) hosts No. 6 ranked Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) on Saturday, February 1, for a huge conference showdown. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Bob Hallberg Court at the Shannon Center in Chicago. Both teams come into Saturday's game tied for the league lead with 10-1 conference marks after CSU dropped its road game with Indiana-South Bend earlier Wednesday.