“Moral victories” are not what a team wants to have but that is what Saint Xavier has to look at coming off a disappointing week.
The Cougars were looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Holy Cross College. Unfortunately, the team fell on the road to Calumet College of St Joseph, 104-82, and lost at home to Trinity International University, 86-84.
While the scoreline against Calumet may not reflect it, there were times that it appeared that Saint Xavier were going to make a game of it.
However, the Cougars did not help themselves by starting the game slow as Calumet was able to go an 8-0 run to start off the game.
That initial run by Calumet proved to be too much for Saint Xavier to overcome. The team battled to try to get back in the game. They managed to cut the lead down to three in the first-half but went into the half trailing by eight.
The story was pretty much the same during the second-half with Saint Xavier desperately trying to get back in the game. Calumet used the Cougars desperation in their favor.
Any time it appeared that they would gain some momentum or try to go into any sort of run, Calumet responded right away. That is disheartening for any team and Saint Xavier was no exception.
With five minutes left to go in the game, Calumet were able to definitively pull away. They forced the Cougars into failed three-point shots while they opted for high-percentage shots.
In the end, Calumet won by 18 and handed Saint Xavier their second straight loss.
Jared Jones led the Cougars with 29 points. Quinn Niego came second with 18 and Niko Cahue added 12 points of his own.
Coach O’Malley’s team returned home to face Trinity International University. While they didn’t concede an 8-0 run like last time, they were still sluggish starting off the game.
Early on, Saint Xavier found themselves down by seven after five minutes in the first half. But the Cougars went on a run of their own and found themselves with the lead with 9:52 left to go in the half. However, Trinity responded quickly and at the break, they were up 48-37.
Saint Xavier weren’t able to peel away at Trinity’s lead as their deficit remained more or less the same until midway through the final half.
With ten minutes to go, the Cougars were finally seeing results. After being down seven with three minutes to go, Saint Xavier battled and cut the lead down to two.
A lay-up by Jaelon Wilson saw the Cougars tie the game with less than two minutes to go. Battling all game long, Saint Xavier now found themselves tied.
However, that was as close as they would come. Trinity would wind up taking a three point lead and would extend it to five after a Saint Xavier turnover.
Trinity played the clock down and with seconds to go Jack Brody converted on a jumper to bring Saint Xavier within two and, ultimately, the final score of 86-84.
Quinn Niego had a team-high 24 points along with two assists and three steals, Jared Jones had 21 points, five assists, and three steals.
Jack Brody rounded off Saint Xavier’s top three with 20 points, five blocks, and three steals.
The loss to Trinity was Saint Xavier’s third straight loss following a five game winning streak to start the year.
If Coach O’Malley and his team can take any positives from this losing streak is that two out of their three losses were close ones and even the one that ended in a blow-out, there were moments in the game where Saint Xavier battled back to make it close.
What should be concerning is the way the Cougars have started their games in the three losses. They found themselves down from the onset forcing themselves to play catch-up.
While they have managed to tie the game a few times, their opponents always had a response. This led to the team having to take three-point shots to tie or in an attempt to win the game.
It’s not a recipe for success. With their three-game losing streak, their overall record now falls to 14-11 including 8-8 in conference play.
2/5 vs Indiana University Northwest at 7:00pm
2/7 @ (RV) Roosevelt University at 7:30pm
2/10 vs Indiana University – South Bend at 3:00pm
2/14 @ Judson University at 7:30pm
2/17 vs Robert Morris University at 3:00pm