Women's Basketball - Thu, Mar. 3, 2005
Bourbonnais, Ill. - Senior forward Rachel Merkell (Munster, Ind./Munster) had a monster outing for the No. 25 ranked and No. 3 seeded Saint Xavier University women's basketball team with game-highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Cougars came out of Bourbonnais, Ill., with a 105-80 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) semi-final win over No. 2 seeded Olivet Nazarene University Thursday. SXU (21-11 overall) will advance to the CCAC championship game against No. 1 seed Indiana University-South Bend on Saturday, March 5, in South Bend, Ind. Game time has yet to be announced.

In addition to Merkell, the Cougars had impressive performances by each of the remaining four starters as well as freshman guard Sarah Wilson (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) off the bench. Junior forward Jacki DiMaggio (Bartlett, Ill./Glenbard North) and sophomore guard Dani Engleman (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) each had solid all-around games. DiMaggio finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals, while Engleman chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists. Fellow junior starting guard Jen Belmonte (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) scored 12 points to go with five assists and Wilson hit three treys en route to her 11-point outing.

The Cougars shot 54 percent (39-for-72) from the field in the game, including 44 percent (10-for-23) from beyond the arc. Saint Xavier played tight defense throughout the game helping force 28 ONU turnovers in the game and limiting the Tigers to just 30 percent (23-for-76) shooting from the field in the game. SXU also won the battle of the boards outrebounding Olivet, 45-36.

Saint Xavier began to pull away in the first half leading by 10 at halftime, 52-42. However, in the second half, the Cougars put the game away outscoring the Tigers 53-38 after the break. SXU was able to also take control of the game down low outscoring ONU, 44-16, in the paint.