Men's Basketball - Mon, Dec. 20, 2004
CHICAGO - Senior guard Phillip Watson (Chicago,Ill./Von Stueben) had team-highs of 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University men's basketball team to a thrilling 89-86 overtime victory over University of Saint Francis (Ind.) in second day action of the SXU Midwest Tournament in Chicago at the Shannon Center Monday. The Cougars (11-2) advance to the championship game Tuesday and will take on St. Ambrose University (Iowa) at 6 p.m.

Besides Watson, three other SXU players tallied double figures, including senior guard Rick Romeli (Lansing, Ill./Marian Catholic), who had 20 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 12-for-16 shooting from the charity stripe. Also reaching double figures for SXU were juniors Jason Reiter (Lemont, Ill,/Lemont) and Jabari Saunders (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) with 19 and 15 points, respectively. Saunders also pulled down nine rebounds, while rejecting six Saint Francis (Ind.) shots. As a team, Saint Xavier blocked a season-high 14 shots.

The Cougars trailed this game by six with 10 seconds left in regulation. However, a tip-in bucket by Saunders catapulted SXU with two seconds remaining to tie the game, 77-77, and force the extra period. In overtime, Saint Xavier shifted the momentum to its side, outscoring USF, 12-9, for the 89-86 victory. Leading USF was senior center Chase Holden, who had game-highs of 29 points and 15 rebounds in a losing cause.

In the first game of the day Monday, Mt. Marty (S.D.) defeated Cardinal Stritch (Wisc.), 76-70, in overtime. Leading Mt. Marty (10-5) was junior forward Justin Bonnichsen with a tournament-high 30 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while senior guard Travis Peterman chipped in 17 points and five rebounds in the winning effort. Cardinal Stritch (8-6) was led by sophomore guard Linnie Balfour with 18 points and four steals.

Monday's second game was won by Viterbo University (Wisc.) over Benedictine College (Kan.) 87-71. Senior guard Aaron Bennett tallied game-highs of 20 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists in the V-Hawk's win to help them improve to 7-7 on the season. In a losing effort, Ravens (5-9) freshman center Chris Henton had a team-high 14 points.

Monday's third game saw St. Ambrose University (Iowa) topping Aquinas College (Mich.), 69-57. Sophomore guard Chris Washington led the five Fighting Bees (8-5), who scored in double figures with 18 points and three steals. Damien Mayo had a team-high 13 points in the Saints' (9-7) first loss of the tournament.

Saint Xavier face St. Ambrose (Iowa) in the 6 p.m. championship Tuesday at the Shannon Center in the SXU Midwest Tournament. The other games include: Cardinal Strich (Wisc.) against Benedictine (Kan.) in Tuesday's first game at 12 p.m., Mt. Marty (S.D.) vs. Viterbo (Wisc.) in the 2 p.m. match-up, and Aquinas (Mich.) will meet up with St. Francis (Ind.) in the 4 p.m. game.