Men’s Basketball: St. Francis rallies past Olivet Nazarene in CCAC quarterfinal
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org February 20, 2013 10:48PM
St. Francis' Brian Edwards steals the ball from Olivet's Ben Worner. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 10:29AM
The University of St. Francis men’s basketball season was in danger of ending.
The Saints trailed Olivet Nazarene 40-32 at halftime Wednesday night in the teams’ Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference quarterfinal at the Patrick J. Sullivan Recreation Center, and the Tigers’ big men were dominating.
“Their post players are good, and they were feeding the post without pressure,” St. Francis coach John Baines said. “They were bigger than us and we couldn’t stop them on the box.
“So we decided to go small, put pressure on them further out, and it worked.”
And how. Fourth-seeded St. Francis outscored No. 5 Olivet 54-37 in the second half to win 86-77. The Saints finished on a 26-15 run over the last six minutes that would have been more impressive had the Tigers (18-13) not hit three straight consolation three-pointers and scored 11 points in the final minute.
“Maybe nobody else does, but we feel we can win the tournament,” said St. Francis freshman forward Brian Edwards (Joliet West), who contributed five points, six rebounds, two steals and plenty of defense in 19 quality minutes.
The Saints (21-11), who 72-62 on Saturday at Olivet, travel to No. 1 Cardinal Stritch (28-3), which is ranked No. 2 nationally, for a 5 p.m. Friday semifinal.
Billy Hubly was 6-of-12 from three-point range and led the Saints with 21 points. Chris Miller, who exploded for seven points in a 25-second span to give the Saints the lead for good, added 16, Mark Peters 15 and freshman Ed Presniakovas (Plainfield South) 14. Miller added six assists and Presniakovas grabbed six rebounds, tying Edwards and Michael Cole for the team lead.
Freshman guard Mack Brown (Plainfield East) and sophomore forward Jaylen Thompson (Plainfield East) also contributed in reserve roles.
“We didn’t want to go out with the way we played the first half,” Presniakovas said. “We had to get on the glass. Their big men were killing us.”
Among them was 6-7 senior Jake Boyce (Lockport), who notched 16 points and eight rebounds. Ben Worner scored 19 and Aaron Larson 13 to go with 13 rebounds.
Had the Saints not figured out how to stifle the Olivet post game, they would be packing the uniforms. As it is, bring on Cardinal Stritch.