Women's Basketball - Sun, Nov. 28, 2004
Gary, Ind. - Sophomore guard Dani Engleman (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the second half as the No. 24 ranked Saint Xavier University women's basketball team shook off a 23-point deficit to close within nine points in the second half before falling to NCAA Division I Valparaiso University (Ind.), 67-51, Sunday in the State Farm Classic at the Genesis Center in Gary, Ind. SXU falls to 2-5 overall with the loss.

Besides Engleman, senior guard Sara Zembrzuski (Lockport, Ill./Lockport) had a nice outing with nine points on three, first-half three-pointers. Junior forward Jacki DiMaggio (Bartlett, Ill./Glenbard North) paced Saint Xavier on the boards with a game-high and season-high 14 rebounds, while senior forward Rachel Merkell (Munster, Ind./Munster) chipped in seven rebounds and a team-high five assists.

The Cougars got off to a slow start offensively digging themselves a 9-0 hole in the game's first three minutes. A three-pointer by Zembrzuski at the 16:48 mark put Saint Xavier on the scoreboard, 9-3, but turnovers over the next five minutes hurt SXU and Valpo capitalized by building a 21-5 lead. Another three-pointer by Zembrzuski with 11:30 to play in the first half cut the Crusaders' lead to 13, 21-8.

The Cougars traded points with the Crusaders over the next five minutes of play using solid defense to force Valpo turnovers and getting baskets from Engleman and freshman center Jennifer Stinich (Westchester, Ill./Nazareth Academy). Zembrzuski then hit her third three-pointer of the game to cut the Valparaiso lead to 12, 29-17, with just over four minutes to play in the first half. A lay-up by Stinich with 2:37 remaining in the first half cut the lead to 11, 31-20, but the Crusaders scored the final six points of the half to take a 37-20 lead into the break.

Valpo used a 6-0 run to extend its lead to 23, 43-20, over the first three minutes of the second half before Engleman hit a trey with 16:31 remaining in the game. The three-pointer seemed to spark both the Cougar offense and defense as SXU went on a 13-0 run over the next six minutes to cut the Crusader advantage in half, 43-33, capped by back-to-back threes from freshman guard Sarah Wilson (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South). Saint Xavier used tough defense to keep Valparaiso scoreless for nearly a seven-minute stretch during the run.

A three-pointer by Engleman and a hook shot by senior forward Lauren Novak (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) brought SXU to within nine, 47-38, for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. After a Valpo basket, Engleman hit two free throws to maintain the nine-point deficit, 49-40, but the Crusaders scored seven unanswered points to go back up by 16. SXU would not get any closer the rest of the way.

Saint Xavier will play NCAA Division I Chicago State University on Wednesday, December 1, on the road at 5 p.m.