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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Holy Cross College basketball splits series with Olivet

The Holy Cross College women’s basketball team came into Saturday’s matchup against Olivet Nazarene University looking for their 13th win, which would put them two away from setting the all-time program record.

After their 77-99 loss to Olivet, the Saints are still searching for lucky number thirteen.

The game began with an Olivet three-pointer, an omen of things to come for the Saints. Olivet had an incredible performance from the three-point line in the first and second quarters.

Olivet quickly took an 8-2 lead, but the Saints kept it close early thanks to a strong defense that forced Olivet to miss a handful of shots.

Then, Olivet got hot and pulled away to take a 31-13 lead heading into the second quarter. Ultimately, Olivet would make six of their nine shots from deep, while Holy Cross went zero for three.

The second quarter began similarly to the first, with an Olivet three to extend the Tiger’s lead to 23. Though the Tigers did cool somewhat from the first quarter, they were still deadly from the three-point line, making almost half of their 11 attempts.

Equally damaging to the Saints was Olivet’s full-court pressure. The Tigers utilized a constant full-court press to trap the recipient of a Saints inbound pass, confusing the Saints and limiting their offense.

The result was nine steals for the Tigers and 15 Holy Cross turnovers, six of which came from starting guard Jordyn Smith. The Saints entered the halftime break trailing 28-57.

Head coach Tom Robbins said the Saints got away from what brought them success this season.

“I felt like we needed to get back to what our game plan was. We just lost our way a little bit at the end of the first quarter and a good majority of the second quarter,” he said.

Second Half

In the second half, the refocused Saints played much better than they did in the second quarter. They held the Tigers to just five buckets from beyond the arc, limiting opportunities and the quality of their looks.

The Saints also shot much better in the second half, scoring 27 points in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth, outscoring the Tigers 49-42.

Though the Saints lost by a final score of 77-99, they cut their deficit and held the Tigers to under 100, a mark that Olivet has broken eight times this season. Coach Robbins said it was a moral victory for the Saints, even though he said they were above settling for moral victories this season.

The loss drops Holy Cross to 12-10 overall and 7-7 in CCAC play. At the time of the loss, the Saints fell 5.5 games behind conference leader Indiana South-Bend and 2.5 games behind sixth-place St. Ambrose. If the playoffs ended today, the Saints would still qualify, just half a game ahead of eighth-place Trinity Christian.

The Saints next turn their attention to Roosevelt University (6-11, 4-8). It’s a key game, as Roosevelt sits in ninth place, just outside the playoff picture.

The last time the two schools played, Holy Cross narrowly lost 87-90 on the road in Chicago. The Saints will look to maximize their home-court advantage and keep their playoff hopes alive. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Holy Cross College Men’s Team

The Holy Cross men’s team had better luck than the women’s, staying hot with an 83-72 win over Olivet.

First Half

Shortly after the women’s game ended, the Holy Cross College men’s team played their game against the Olivet in front of a packed Pfeil Center.

The Saints opened up scoring with a three from sophomore guard Nash Hostetler. Hostetler’s triple kickstarted an early 10-2 run for the Saints, of which Hostetler contributed six points.

The Saints continued to build on their lead thanks to senior forward Mick Sullivan making six straight points to give the Saints an 18-5 lead with 12:57 left in the half.

The Tigers cut the Saint’s lead down to eight, but freshman guard Phil Robles II built it back up to 11 after a three-point play.

The two teams settled into a rhythm, trading buckets with the game about eight points apart until senior guard Beau Ludwick put the Saints up by 11 on a three with 5:09 remaining in the half.

The two teams continued to trade buckets until Robles II hit a floater as time expired to give the Saints a 43-32 lead going into the locker room.

Second Half

The most significant difference between the two teams, beyond Hostelers opening three-pointers, was points off of turnovers. The Saints had three steals (with Ludwick earning two) and forced a total of seven turnovers.

On those seven turnovers, the Saints had 15 points. Olivet forced five turnovers but only had two points off those turnovers.

The second half saw Olivet immediately trim their deficit back to single digits with a three-point shot, and the Tigers got to work, coming within six of the Saints with 16:38 left in the game.

The Saints responded with consecutive three-point shots from Hostetler and Ludwick, and the Saints led by 10 before the Tigers matched the Saint’s efforts to cut the Holy Cross lead to four.

With momentum having wholly swung to the Tigers, Holy Cross needed a response. It came in the form of Robles II, who, after missing a jump shot, collected his own rebound off an odd bounce.

Robles II was left completely wide open when the ball bounced to him, and he sank the open three from the top of the key.

The shot served to stymie the Tiger’s best effort, and they were never able to make a serious run to get back into the game as the Saints knocked off Olivet 83-72.

By beating the first-place Tigers, the Saints improved their overall record to 11-10 and returned to .500 in conference play with a 7-7 record. The Tigers fall to 15-6 (10-3) and will likely fall out of first place in the conference.

The Saints now turn their attention to the Roosevelt Lakers, who are now in first place in the conference. The last time the two teams played back in November, Holy Cross came up short on the road, 67-69

The Saints will look to use their home-court advantage this Wednesday when they host Roosevelt. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd-edu.