Men's Basketball - Wed, Jan. 26, 2005
CHICAGO -- On the night that saw Gary Hickerson, one of the greatest basketball players ever at Saint Xavier University get his jersey officially retired, the No. 13 ranked SXU men's basketball team paid its own tribute to the legend by outscoring Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) rival University of St. Francis (Ill.), 41-25, in the second half to pull off the 71-55 conference victory Wednesday at the Shannon Center in Chicago. With the win, the Cougars improve to 19-3 overall this season and 3-0 in league play, while USF falls to 2-23 on the year and 1-4 in the CCAC.
Junior forward Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) had another dominating performance down low for Saint Xavier shooting 8-for-10 from the field for a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Rick Romeli (Lansing, Ill./Marian Catholic) also had an impressive outing for the Cougars with 17 points and a team-high eight boards. Besides Saunders and Romeli, senior guard Phillip Watson (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) also scored in double figures with 10 points, while also dishing out a game-high five assists. The Fighting Saints were led by senior forward Brandon Krug and sophomore forward Kevin Howard, who each finished with 15 points.
The game went back-and-forth in the first half with neither team able to build much of a lead. With the score tied 30-30 at halftime, SXU came out on fire shooting a blistering 64 percent (16-for-25) from the field after the break and pulling away early to secure the victory. SXU outrebounded USF, 33-24, in the game and scored nearly half of its points (32) in the paint.
At halftime, a ceremony was conducted for Gary Hickerson, a former standout basketball player at SXU from 1971-75, to have his jersey and number (#35) officially retired at the university. Bob Hallberg, Hickerson's former coach and current Saint Xavier University athletic director, introduced Hickerson to the crowd, highlighted the accomplishments of his playing career, and presented Hickerson with framed version of his old jersey as a memento of his collegiate career.
"Coming back to Saint Xavier tonight for the ceremony brought back so many memories from my playing days," said Hickerson. "I made a lot of lifelong friends during my college years and it was nice to see many of them in attendance at tonight's event. It was a beautiful ceremony and I am very appreciative to Coach Hallberg and the University for making it happen."
Saint Xavier continues its CCAC slate with a road game against Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) on Saturday, January 29. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Bourbonnais, Ill.