Men's Basketball - Tue, Dec. 21, 2004
CHICAGO - Senior guard Phillip Watson (Chicago,Ill./Von Stueben) had game-highs of 24 points, eight assists and four steals to lead the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team over Saint Ambrose University (Iowa), 97-85, in the championship game of the SXU Midwest Tournament Tuesday evening at the Shannon Center in Chicago. For his performance, Watson was named the tournament's MVP following the contest, while senior guard Rick Romeli (Lansing, Ill./Marian Catholic) and junior forward Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) were both named to the all-tournament team.

Romeli also had a tremendous individual performance for the Cougars Tuesday with 24 points and seven rebounds and Saunders continued his strong tournament play with 13 points and seven rebounds, respectively. Sophomore Kevin Lowe (Tinley Park, Ill./Eastern Illinois University) had a good outing for SXU with 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in only his second game of the season. For Saint Ambrose (8-6 overall), sophomore guard Chris Washington led the four Fighting Bees in double figures with 22 points. Washington and senor guard Ryan Johnson were also named to the all-tournament team for SAU following the championship game.

Trailing 44-39 at halftime, Saint Xavier (12-2 overall) shot a sizzling 17-for-28 (61 percent) from the field in the second half to score 58 points after halftime. The Cougars were able to capitalize on Saint Ambrose fouls by converting 19-for-24 (79 percent) of its free throws down the stretch, including a 13-for-13 performance from the charity stripe by Romeli.

In the first game of the afternoon, Benedictine College (Kan.) got a big lay-up from freshman center Chris Henson with two seconds remaining in the game to defeat Cardinal Stritch University (Wisc.), 61-60. Benedictine (6-9) trailed 35-28 at halftime, but rallied late to pull off the comeback victory. Henson tallied team-highs of 10 points and nine rebounds, respectively. Leading Cardinal Stritch (8-7) in defeat was junior guard Ronald Bell, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

In Tuesday's second game, Viterbo University (Wisc.) used hot shooting (15-for-26) in the second half, including a 15-2 run to open the period, to come from behind and beat Mount Marty College (S.D.), 57-43. Viterbo's (8-7) junior forward Jeremy Fradette tallied game-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the V-Hawk victory, while Mount Marty's (10-6) sophomore forward J.J. Heyden had a team-high 11 points in the losing effort.

In the third place game, Aquinas College (Mich.) was able to get a big bucket from senior guard Aaron Alsgaard with under five second remaining in the contest as they defeated University of Saint Francis (Ind.) 70-69. Leading the way for Aquinas was sophomore guard Jeff Jayson, who had a team-high 14 points in the win. In a losing effort for Saint Francis was sophomore guard Ryan Bradley, who had 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 shooting from the charity stripe.

The 2004 SXU Midwest All-Tournament Team consisted of: Mount Marty junior forward Justin Bonnichsen, Viterbo junior guard Kyle Hines, Saint Francis senior forward Chase Holden, Aquinas sophomore guard Jeff Jayson, Saint Ambrose's Washington and Johnson as well as Romeli, Saunders and Watson (MVP) for Saint Xavier.