Women's Basketball - Wed, Dec. 1, 2004
CHICAGO - Freshman guard Sarah Wilson (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) hit four three-pointers and scored a team-high 13 points, but the No. 24 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team could not pull off the upset over NCAA Division I Chicago State University Wednesday falling 59-52 at the Jacoby Dickens Center in Chicago. The Cougars fall to 2-6 overall with the loss.
Senior forward Rachel Merkell (Munster, Ind./Munster) also finished in double figures for SXU with 10 points as well as eight rebounds. Junior forward Jacki DiMaggio (Bartlett, Ill./Glenbard North) led the Cougars on the boards with 10 rebounds, while sophomore point guard Dani Engleman (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) also had a nice all-around game for Saint Xavier with six assists and five steals, both team-highs.
SXU jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game on back-to-back three pointers from junior guard Jen Belmonte (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South). However, CSU answered with seven straight points and took the lead on a trey by freshman guard Zondranika Williams at the 15:55 mark. The Saint Xavier offense had trouble putting points on the board until senior guard Sara Zembrzuski (Lockport, Ill./Lockport) hit a three-pointer with 11:30 to play in the first half to end a nearly seven-minute scoring drought.
Trailing 18-9 with just under nine minutes before the halftime break, Wilson hit SXU's fourth trey of the half to cut the CSU lead to six, 18-12. The Cougar defense got tough over the game's five minutes limiting Chicago State to just two points, while three-pointers by Wilson and Zembrzuski respectively narrowed the lead to one, 20-19, with four minutes remaining. On the Cougars' next possession, a lay-up by freshman center Jennifer Stinich (Westchester, Ill./Nazareth Academy) gave SXU its first lead since the opening minutes, 21-20.
CSU closed out the remaining three-and-a-half minutes of the half with a 4-0 run to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room. Saint Xavier was outrebounded 33-18 in the first half and shot only 23 percent (7-for-31) from the field, but defense helped keep the score close with the Cougars helping force 13 CSU first-half turnovers. It did not take long for Saint Xavier to get its offense rolling in the second half and the Cougars took back the lead, 27-26, on a lay-up by Stinich with 16:43 remaining in the game.
The two teams battled back-and-forth over the next seven minutes with CSU never able to extend its lead to more than four points. With 8:02 left in the second half, Wilson hit her fourth trey of the game to tie things up, 39-39. A jumper by DiMaggio and a free throw by Merkell helped keep the game tied over the next two minutes of play, but Chicago State scored six unanswered points before Merkell ended the run with a free throw. Down 52-43 with three minutes left in regulation, DiMaggio was able to convert on a three-point play attempt to cut the CSU lead to six.
Unfortunately for SXU that was as close as it would get as the Cougars missed key free throws in the final minute, which would have cut into the six-point deficit. Chicago State shot 36 free throws in the game compared to just 13 for Saint Xavier. The Cougars shot 41 percent (11-for-27) in the second half, but CSU dominated the glass outrebounding SXU, 61-32.
Saint Xavier will host No. 20 ranked Trevecca Nazarene University (Tenn.) on Friday, December 3, at 7 p.m. at the Shannon Center in Chicago.