The No.2 ranked Saint Xavier women’s basketball team continues its perfect start to the season. Since we last published, the team won both of their home games against Holy Cross College and Calumet College of St. Joseph. They won these games 111-59 and 104-45, respectively.
Their latest victory came on the road against Trinity International University (TIU). The Cougars won that game 80-56. Despite the comfortable margin of victory, the team struggled in the first-half.
Coach Hallberg’s team struggled to find the basket early on, including going 2-for-13 from three-point land. Despite their struggles, they built a 22-15 lead. It was the second quarter where their lack of points came back to bite them.
Trinity International outscored Saint Xavier 17-10 in the second quarter, capped off by a layup from TIU’s Bridgette Smith. The two teams entered half-time tied 32-32. However, the third quarter is when the Cougars sprung to life. Saint Xavier scored 30 points in the third quarter alone with Maddie Welter scoring a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the period.
After a shaky start, Saint Xavier were able to cruise into the fourth quarter with a sizable lead. That lead allowed the team to play more freely and come out with a 24-point win. It was their largest margin of victory on the road this season.
Kara Krolicki led the team with twenty-one points. She also had six assists to go with two steals. Maddie Welter tied for second with nineteen points, three assists, and three steals. Brittany Collins also had nineteen points to go along with four blocks, and three steals. As has been the case so far this season, Saint Xavier’s trio, along with Chanel Fanter, continue to pave the way for Coach Hallberg and his team.
The aforementioned four players are a constant in Coach Hallberg’s line-ups. Each of these players have started all six of Saint Xavier’s game and are averaging more than thirty minutes a game. Krolicki leading the team with 34.5 minutes. Krolicki is also averaging 23.2 points a game, by far the leader in that category. However, the rest of that quartet is also averaging double digits in points per game.
However, it seems that the fifth starting spot is up for grabs at the moment. With Mikayla Leyden graduating, a starting spot was set to open. It appears that Hallberg has yet to decide on who will be taking that fifth starting spot. He’s used three different players to fill out his starting line-up. Those three players are freshmen guards, Gabby Kreykes, Sidney Lovitsch, and Meg Knutson.
Ouf of those three players, Kreykes has started three out of six games for Saint Xavier. She averaged the most amount of minutes with 16.8. Lovitsch follows close behind averaging 14.5 minutes a game while not having started one. Knutson averages 11.2 minutes and has started two of the six games.
Looking at that, Kreykes seems to be pulling ahead not only because she’s seeing more minutes, but she’s also started half of the team’s games. However, Lovitsch has a higher field-goal percentage, .517 to .340, and 3-point percentage, .333 to .214. Knutson has them both beat with a .440 field-percentage and .333 from behind the three-point line.
It was always going to be an issue replacing what Leyden brought to the team. She was a big reason as to why the team made it all the way to the championship game last season. But Coach Hallberg has three potential candidates to fill that mantle. While it appears that Kreykes has the advantage right now, Lovitsch and Knutson will get more opportunities to show what they can do.
Finding someone to fill out that fifth spot may be a blessing in disguise. Nothing can affect a team coming off a very good season more than complacency. Saint Xavier is on pace to have another outstanding season.
The goal for the Cougars is to win a championship and they have the talent to do so. Finding that fifth starting spot will be crucial. A little internal competition to see who can pull ahead and claim that spot is never a bad thing.
The Cougars will return to action on Wednesday, November 29 against Roosevelt University.