Saint Francis bounced back from its lone defeat of this men’s basketball season to easily knock off 12th-ranked Taylor 90-75 in Crossroads League play at the Hutzell Athletic Center Tuesday.
The top-ranked Cougars (12-1, 3-1 CL) limited the Trojans (10-1, 3-1) to just 31 percent shooting from 3-point range and 36 percent overall.
After cutting the Saint Francis lead to 47-45 at the half, Taylor was held to less than 30 percent shooting by the hosts over the final 20 minutes.
"Sometimes a loss can be the best thing for your season," Sovine told sf.edu following the game. "We got refocused, had two good days of practice, everybody locked in and we're starting to buy in on locking guys up and playing defense now and let the defense flow into our offense. We did a pretty good job tonight. We wanted to come out and send a message to the rest of the league and get back on the winning track."
Sovine scored a season-best 20 points, while sophomore guard Chandler White chipped a game-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half.
"It was great (tonight)," White told the school web site. "We fought and battled in practice the last two days and brought it out tonight. They hit a couple transition 3s, so at halftime, we just said we have to get back to the way we played (early) in the first half and we did just that. The ‘bigs’ sealed for me down low and that opened up the lane too. Kyle is one of the best ‘bigs’ in the country and it's pretty hard to guard him and (Cougar center Bryce Lienhoop) at the same time. If they double down, guards are going to be open, Bryce will be open down low and it's just hard to guard us."
Saint Francis has now won 19 consecutive games at home.
"Chandler really came to play tonight," Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said. "I thought his energy was contagious. It got a little scary down the stretch to the end of the first half, but we talked about what we needed to do defensively at halftime and the guys went out and bought in in the second half. That made the difference."
Senior guard Kegan Comer added 12 points in the win, while Lienhoop grabbed 11 boards.
The Cougars are one of four teams with a single loss in league play, each behind leader No. 3-ranked Indiana Wesleyan (10-1, 4-0).
Saint Francis will travel to Indianapolis to face 5th-ranked Indiana-East on Dec. 22 at 11 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game will follow the Indiana Pacers vs. Boston Celtics game.