Women's Basketball - Tue, Dec. 28, 2004
CHICAGO - Senior guard Sara Zembrzuski (Lockport, Ill./Lockport) hit a three-pointer with 1:25 remaining in the second half to help propel the Saint Xavier University women's basketball team to a 63-55 win over St. Mary's College (Ind.) in the second round of the SXU Christmas Tipoff Tournament Tuesday at the Shannon Center in Chicago. With the win, the Cougars improve to 5-9 overall and advance to the championship game Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Aquinas College (Mich.).

The game was tight throughout with both teams going back-and-forth for the lead in the closing minutes. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, Zembrzuski hit two free throws to put SXU ahead 56-53. After a missed jumper by St. Mary's, Zembrzuski delivered the three-pointer that helped secure the Cougar win. Free throws by junior guard Jen Belmonte (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) and senior forward Rachel Merkell (Munster, Ind./Munster) in the final minute kept the Belles at bay. Zembrzuski finished with 11 points, while junior forward Jacki DiMaggio (Bartlett, Ill./Glenbard North) led Saint Xavier with 15 points. Merkell finished with a team-high 14 rebounds for SXU. St. Mary's was paced by senior forward Emily Creachbaum, who had game-highs of 19 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.

In Tuesday's first game, St. Ambrose (Iowa) held off a second-half rally attempt by the University of St. Francis (Ill.) to win, 76-66, after leading 38-21 at the halftime break. The Queen Bees (10-7) were led again by sophomore forward Jennifer Goetz, who finished with game-highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds. SAU's senior center Michelle Kurth and junior forward Ali Rorah both scored in double figures with Goetz with 11 and 10 points, respectively. St. Francis (2-12) was led by junior forward Amberley Callahan, who finished with 18 points and a team-high tying seven rebounds in the losing effort.

In the second match-up of the day, Siena Heights (Mich.) scored 47 points in the second half to pull away from Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.), 89-60. Siena Heights (6-6) was led by senior guard Nicole Coffey, who scored a game-high 21 points, including a game-high four three-pointers and a game-high eight steals. The Saints outrebounded CCSJ 64-42 in the game and finished with 21 steals, which helped score 28 of Siena's 89 points off turnovers. Calumet College of St. Joseph (5-9) had four players scored in double figures Tuesday with senior guard Dana Jefferies leading the way with 14 points.

Tuesday's third game saw Aquinas College (Mich.) shoot 54 percent (14-for-26) from the field in the second half to win by 20 points, 74-54, over Huntington College (Ind.). Aquinas (12-3) had four players score in double figures in the win led by sophomore center Jackie Braspenninx, who finished with game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds. Huntington (5-9) shot only 28 percent (17-for-61) from the field in the game and was outscored 28-10 in the paint. The Foresters were led by junior forward Betsey Bean, who recorded team-highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Saint Xavier will face Aquinas College (Mich.) in the 7 p.m. championship Wednesday at the Shannon Center. The other games include: University of St. Francis (Ill.) versus Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.) in Wednesday's seventh place game at 1 p.m., Siena Heights (Mich.) against St. Ambrose University (Iowa) in the fifth place game at 3 p.m., and St. Mary's(Ind.) versus Huntington (Ind.) in the 5 p.m. game for third place.