Men's Basketball - Sun, Dec. 19, 2004
CHICAGO - Junior forward Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) scored a career-high 23 points and also eight rebounds to help lead the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team to a 68-46 victory over Benedictine College (Kan.) in first-round action of the SXU Midwest Tournament Sunday evening at the Shannon Center in Chicago. With the win, the Cougars improve to 10-2 overall and advance to play University of Saint Francis (Ind.) at 7 p.m. Monday in the second round.

Saunders shot a sizzling 11-for-13 from the field in collecting his game-high 23 points, while senior guard Rick Romeli (Lansing, Ill./Marian Catholic) turned in a double-double performance for SXU with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Senior forward Michael Rojas (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) also had a solid night for the Cougars with six points and 10 rebounds. Saint Xavier started off slow, but began to pull away midway through the first half to build a 32-16 halftime advantage. Benedictine never threatened the lead in the second half.

In the first game of the afternoon, St. Ambrose University (Iowa) defeated Cardinal Stritch University (Wisc.), 75-64, behind a double performance by senior guard Ryan Johnson, who had a game-high 25 points as well as a team-high 10 rebounds. Leading Cardinal Strictch in the losing effort was sophomore forward Marquelle Joyner, who tallied a team-high 19 points and game-high 12 rebounds.

Sunday's second game was won by Aquinas College (Mich.) over Mount Marty College (S.D.). Leading the charge for Aquinas was senior center Tom Kuslkis, who had a team-high 17 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the field. Aquinas junior forward Josh Summerfield had a game-high nine rebounds in the winning effort. Mount Marty College junior forward Justin Bonnichsen led the Lancers with a game-high 28 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field.

The third game of the tourney found University of Saint Francis (Ind.) topping Viterbo University (Wisc.), 66-61. Junior forward Dusty Beuchler led Saint Francis with a game-high 19 points, while senior center Chase Holden pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the Cougars to the winners circle. Leading Viterbo in defeat was senior guard Vince Ruger with 15 points, including 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the three-point arc.

Saint Xavier face University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in the 7 p.m. match-up Monday at the Shannon Center. The other games include: Mount Marty (S.D.) will play Cardinal Strich (Wisc.) in Monday's first game at 1 p.m., Viterbo (Wisc.) will take on Benedictine (Kan.) in the 3 p.m. match-up, and St. Ambrose (Iowa) will meet up with Aquinas (Mich.) in the 5 p.m. game.