For the St. Ambrose men’s basketball team, the final home game of the season followed an all-too familiar script.
The Fighting Bees battled St. Xavier on even terms for much of the game but struggled down the stretch Wednesday in a 103-92 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference loss at Lee Lohman Arena.
“Same story,’’ St. Ambrose coach Ray Shovlain said. “For 32 minutes, we did a decent job but we couldn’t finish it off.’’
In an 8-20 season that has included 11 games decided by two possessions or less, that has proven to be a season-long issue for the Fighting Bees.
Wednesday, St. Ambrose found itself in a 78-78 game when Blake Buls knocked down a shot with 6 minutes, 53 seconds remaining.
Over the next five minutes, the Fighting Bees mustered just two field goals — both follow-ups by Eric Dust — and by the time Jacob Posley scored with just under two minutes to go the Cougars had opened a 95-83 lead.
St. Xavier (16-13, 11-8 CCAC) blistered St. Ambrose from the perimeter early and from the free throw line late in the game, leaving the Bees playing from behind most of the night.
Jared Jones, a junior from Waukee, Iowa, knocked down seven of the nine three-point shot he attempted on his way to a game-high 31 points, while Quinn Niego hit 11-of-12 free throws in the second half as he piled up 27 points.
The Bees struggled to quiet the Cougars in either area as they fell to 5-14 in CCAC play.
Shooting 58.6 percent for the game, St. Xavier helped itself with a 14-of-25 touch from three-point range and finished the game by hitting 20 of 22 foul shots in the second half as part of a 21-of-24 night at the line.
Jones knocked down five three pointers in the first half, allowing the Cougars to cling to a 49-46 lead at the half but the two he hit with around five minutes remaining in the game extended an 82-80 lead and led the Bees to their sixth straight conference loss.
Dust led St. Ambrose with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Dedric Byrd finished with 14 on six-of-nine shooting.