Men's Basketball - Mon, Jan. 3, 2005
Avon Park, Fla. - Junior forward Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) scored a season-high 27 points on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting performance from the field to lead the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team to a commanding 74-52 victory over host Warner Southern (Fla.) in the championship game of the Warner Southern Tourney Saturday at the SFC Center in Avon Park, Fla. The Cougars improve their overall record to 14-3 with the win and pick up their second tournament title in the last two weeks after winning the eight-team SXU Midwest Tournament on December 21.
Saunders also recorded a game-high 10 rebounds and shot an impressive 9-for-11 from the free-throw line to help lead Saint Xavier in the championship game. In addition, junior guard Jason Reiter (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) scored 17 points and made all five of his five three-point attempts in the game, while senior guard Phillip Watson (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) had a nice all-around outing with 10 points, six assists and six steals. Senior guard Mike Brown (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle) was the other SXU player to score in double figures in Saturday's game finishing with 13 points.
The game was tight in the first half with Saint Xavier clinging to a four-point lead at the halftime break, 35-31. However, in the second half, both the Cougar offense and defense started clicking and SXU outscored Warner Southern, 39-21, the rest of the way. Saint Xavier shot 61 percent (17-for-28) from the field in the second half. SXU also won the battle of the boards outrebounding Warner Southern, 33-19.
In Saint Xavier's first game of the tournament Friday, the Cougars found themselves in a tough battle with Evangel University (Mo.). However, SXU prevailed in the end and pulled out the 66-63 win behind a team-high 13 points from Reiter. Watson and freshman guard Matt Marino (Chicago, Ill./Saint Patrick) each scored 12 points for Saint Xavier in Friday's victory, while senior forward Michael Rojas (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) chipped in 10 points. Watson and Saunders also each finished with a game-high 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
SXU will stay in Florida for two more regular season games starting with a Monday, January 3, rematch with Warner Southern University at 6 p.m. (eastern).