Men's Basketball - Tue, Feb. 21, 2006
Bourbonnais, Ill. - A jumper at the buzzer by Olivet Nazarene University senior guard Zach Birkey proved to be the difference as No. 22 Saint Xavier University dropped a heartbreaker, 58-57, on the road in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) men's basketball action Tuesday night at McHie Arena in Bourbonnais, Ill. The Cougars drop to 19-10 overall and 7-4 in the CCAC, while the Tigers improve to 20-9 overall and secured at least a share of the conference regular season title.
SXU was led by senior forward Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Township West), who finished with game-highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Jason Reiter (Lemont, Ill./Lemont), sophomore guard Matt Marino (Chicago, Ill./Saint Patrick), and freshman guard Jason Genova (Chicago, Ill./Saint Patrick) all finished with eight points apiece for the Cougars. SXU shot 46 percent (22-for-48) from the field in the game and scored 26 of its 57 points in the paint.
The game was close throughout and boasted 12 tie scores and 18 lead changes. It all came down to the final 36 seconds with Olivet turning the ball over and clinging to a slim two-point lead, 56-54. On the ensuing possession, Saunders was fouled and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw attempt to give ONU the ball back with 24 seconds left to play. A quick foul by Saint Xavier put Birkey at the line for a 1-and-1 and he also missed the bonus free throw. The Cougars took advantage of the miss and Genova sank a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds remaining to put SXU ahead, 57-56. However, the Tigers used a quick full-court inbounds pass and a time out to set up a half-court play and Birkey was able to break free for the game-winning bank shot on the ensuing play.
Saint Xavier (19-10 overall/7-4 CCAC) wraps up its regular season on Saturday, February 25, with a home game against CCAC foe Indiana University-South Bend. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Shannon Center in Chicago.