Something about Saint Xavier seems to bring out the worst in the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene. Seriously. In the past six seasons, each time coach Doug Porter and the Tigers were able to put together a winning streak of at least six games, it was the Cougars of Saint Xavier who stopped the run.
Not this time.
On Tuesday night, No. 21 ONU buried 10th-ranked Saint Xavier with a huge second half and went on to win 92-72 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Stephanie Denius led the way with 18 points, including five 3-pointers, Danielle Tolbert added 16 points and Danielle Pipal finished with 15 points and four steals as the Tigers (18-4, 3-0 CCAC) won their ninth consecutive game.
The score was tied at 42 at the half, and ONU led only 59-53 with 12:40 left in the game before building some momentum. A 17-3 spurt over the next 4 minutes boosted the margin to 20, capped by back-to-back-to-back 3s from Tolbert, Holly Schacht and Denius.
The Cougars (13-6, 1-1) creeped within 78-64 but not any closer, allowing Coach Porter and his team to join Indiana-South Bend as the only two unbeaten teams in the CCAC. Alex Barone and Shalonda Young each scored 17 points for Saint Xavier.
Here are the numbers for ONU:
- Attempted 93 shots
- Attempted 48 3-pointers
- Rebounded 49 percent of the rebounds on offense
- Forced 28 turnovers (tied a season low for opponents)
- Attempted 13 more shots than the Cougars
The 14 steals for the Tigers also was a season low, which is pretty amazing. Eight of them did come in the second half when Saint Xavier had 16 of its turnovers, so the wear and tear was apparent after halftime.
Next up for ONU is a trip to Robert Morris (15-6, 1-1) on Saturday, with the tip scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. I wish Coach Porter and his team the best of luck.