CHICAGO – Hitting 73 percent of its second-half shot attempts (19-for-26), the Saint Xavier University men's basketball team scored 56 points after halftime and avenged an early season road loss to Huntington University (Ind.) with an 89-80 home victory over the Foresters Thursday evening at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars (7-8 overall) got some big shots down the stretch from junior point guard Quinn Niego (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice), junior guard Jared Jones (Waukee, Iowa/Trinity Christian College/Des Moines Christian) and sophomore point guard Jacob Strong (Koontz Lake, Ind./John Glenn) to help keep Huntington at bay. Niego led SXU with 23 points and nine rebounds on the night.
Redshirt freshman guard Jack Brody (Lockport, Ill./UIndy/Providence Catholic) also had a nice game for Saint Xavier recording 18 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Niko Cahue (Orland Park, Ill./Moraine Valley CC/Sandburg) was tough inside for the Cougars finishing with 15 points and six boards, while Jones provided a huge spark off the bench hitting four three-pointers en route to 13 points to go along with a team-leading seven assists. As a team, SXU shot 57 percent (33-for-58) from the floor for the game, including an impressive 52 percent (11-for-21) from the three-point arc.
The Cougars led most of the game, but Huntington never let the hosts get comfortable keeping the game close throughout. A lay-up by Brody in the closing seconds of the first half gave SXU a 33-30 lead at the break. The Cougars came out strong in the second half and took their largest lead of the game (41-32) early in the second half off a lay-up by senior guard Kyle Huppe (Edgerton, Kan./Gardner Edgerton). The Foresters fought back and tied the score at 50-50 with 12 minutes left to play in the game. The game went back and forth before back-to-back treys by Jones put Saint Xavier up 69-63 with eight minutes remaining. A pair of three-pointers by Strong in the final four minutes helped preserve the lead in the closing minutes. Strong's final three of the game came with 1:20 to play to put the Cougars up, 83-75.
Saint Xavier (7-8 overall/4-3 CCAC) takes the weekend off to celebrate the New Year and returns to action with a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) home game against Judson University (Ill.) on Tuesday, January 3. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at the Shannon Center.