Notre Dame, Ind. – Even with the team's leading scorer, senior guard Brad Karp (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), missing the game nursing an injury, it was business as usual Wednesday for the No. 4 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team. The Cougars (21-2 overall/11-1 CCAC) ran their current win streak to a program-best-tying 17 games with a 57-50 road win over Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) foe Holy Cross College (Ind.) at McKenna Arena in Notre Dame, Ind. Senior point guard Michael Simpson (North Chicago, Ill./Cardinal Stritch/North Chicago) had the hot hand for SXU scoring a game-best 16 points and dishing out four assists to aid the victory.
Junior guard Jack Krieger (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) and sophomore forward Josh Mawhorr (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central) were also key forces Wednesday. Krieger finished with 14 points and two steals, while Mawhorr tallied 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. The game was a defensive struggle throughout with SXU only scoring 57 points, its lowest scoring output of the season. Things started off bright as the Cougars jumped out to an early 9-0 lead behind baskets by Krieger and Simpson. Although Saint Xavier never trailed in the first half, the Saints hung around cutting SXU's lead to three points several times during the frame.
Leading 28-21 at the half, the Cougars carried the advantage into the second half, but Holy Cross continued to keep it close and eventually tied the game at 36-36 with 12:08 to play. A flurry of free throws by Saint Xavier helped propel an 11-4 run giving the visitors a 47-40 edge at the 7:22 mark of the second half. HCC had one more run left that cut the lead to a point, 49-48, with 3:32 to play, but SXU responded with a pair of jumpers by Krieger and a pair of free throws by Simpson to help pull away in the closing minutes.
Saint Xavier (21-2 overall/11-1 CCAC) now gets ready for a huge conference match-up with No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.). The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 1, at the Shannon Center in Chicago. A win Saturday would give the Cougars the longest win streak in program history (18 games).