A top 10 NAIA matchup lived up to its billing Wednesday night, but No. 4 Saint Xavier University was able to hold the No. 8 Purdue University Calumet women’s basketball team off down the stretch in the Peregrines’ 90-86 league loss at the Fitness and Recreation Center.
Junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) scored 25 points, sophomore Cassidy Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) had 20 points and junior Patrice McBee (Monterey, Ind./Culver Community) chipped in her 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the setback, which set the Peregrines’ record to 18-5 overall and 10-3 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The back-and-forth contest featured 12 ties and 11 lead changes, but the Peregrines would take their last lead on a Deno 3-pointer with 4:55 to play to go up one, 76-75. Deno’s make completed what was a 13-4 run by the home team after Purdue Calumet found itself down seven, 66-59, at the 9:37 mark of the second half.
For every big shot by the Peregrines, the Cougars (22-2, 13-0) had an answer, as SXU senior Morgan Stuut hit a layup on the next possession to give the visitors back the lead. St. Xavier seemed to have control of the game in the final minutes as it built a six-point lead with 2:05 left, but Peregrine freshman Sammy Dillman (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence) drained two deep trifectas in the final 1:45 to keep the game close before the Cougar’s Suzie Broski sealed the win with two free throws.
After taking a slim 46-40 leading heading into halftime, St. Xavier led by as many as 11 (59-48) with 15:12 to in the second half, its largest lead of the game. But the Peregrines answered with a 9-1 run, bolstered by a McBee and Dillman layups and two big shots off the bench by senior Stephanie Balon (Wanatah, Ind./South Central), including a big 3 in the corner via a Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) assist.
Dillman and classmate Katie Wampler (Scottsburg, Ind./Scottsburg) finished with eight points apiece and Graber recorded six assists, six boards and five points for the Peregrines, who won the rebounding battle (41-32) and shot better from the field (53.4 percent) compared to the Cougars, who finished the game shooting 50 percent.
The Peregrines held a big advantage in bench points (21-9), but saw the Cougars score 20 points off 20 Purdue Calumet turnovers. St. Xavier totaled just six giveaways for the contest.
The Cougars had all five of their starters finish in double-figure scoring, led by Broski’s 19 points. Mikayla Leyden (17 points), Kara Krolicki (16 points), Stuut (15 points) and Caitlin McMahon (14 points) led SXU’s balanced attack.
The Peregrines return to action Saturday, Feb. 7, when they host Indiana South Bend in a 1 p.m. matchup at the Fitness and Recreation Center. Saturday is also Kids Day, sponsored by McDonald’s, as all children ages 18 and under will be admitted free to the contest, which will feature bounce houses, face painting, free t-shirts, a show by Ronald McDonald, and a free autograph poster session. Purdue Calumet will also honors its 16th member of its Athletic Hall of Fame when it inducts longtime men’s soccer coach Frank Carroll during halftime of the men’s game, slated for a 3 p.m. start.