JOLIET – For a program that has struggled to find wins in the last two months, recording a nearly 20-point victory is a big deal.
That's just what happened for the University of St. Francis men's basketball team on Wednesday when it hosted Governors State University in a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference game at the Sullivan Center.
The Saints avenged an earlier loss to the Cougars in University Park by jumping out to a 40-30 halftime lead and going on to capture an 87-68 victory.
USF (9-15, 7-11) only won once in December and went 3-6 in its next games prior to their win over GSU (13-11, 8-9), who beat the Saints 98-91 on December 14 in University Park.
With Cole Micek leading the way with 18 points and Malik Bailey adding 13 points and five rebounds and Mitch Kwasigroch chipping in with 11 points and five rebounds, the Saints led by as much as 25 points during the game.
"In many ways, this is probably our most complete game of the year," Saints coach Ryan Marks said. "Our defensive communication was at a really high level and offensively, our sharing of the ball to get good shots was very consistent.
"We ended up with 12 turnovers and Governors State is a team that really pressures you in different ways. You can't have a chance against them unless you minimize your turnovers and do a good job in transition defense and I thought we were effective in both areas."
Arnold Agard, Joey Buggemi (five rebounds) and Jarret Gmazel all scored eight points while Eric Ting added seven points, six assists and five rebounds. Johnathan Boatright, who like Lincoln-Way Central graduates Gmazel and Kwasigroch played at Joliet Junior College, was one of three Cougars who reached double figures with 12 points.
"We had seven games which went to overtime or were two or three points different in regulation so we were right there," Marks said. "It's easy to go through that and have guys who are trying to get to the end of the year. But our guys have been just the opposite, they're valuing practice and every opportunity to still play and that really was reflected tonight."