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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Holy Cross basketball swept by Roosevelt

The Holy Cross College men’s basketball team hosted the nationally ranked Roosevelt Lakers this weekend, looking to extend their conference winning streak to three games. Instead, great Roosevelt three-point shooting and a controversial foul down the stretch saw the Saints fall 63-62.

The Saints shot and moved the ball well in the opening minutes, quickly building up a 13-3 lead over the No. 13 Lakers. Much of the Saint's lead came from an excellent 3-point shooting night. In the first half alone, the Saints went 9-of-14 (64.3%), including the freshmen guard duo of Drew Mata and Donovan Mukes, who combined to go 4-of-6.

Both teams performed incredibly well from beyond the arc, as Roosevelt finished the night going 13-of-27 (48.1%) while Holy Cross went 11-of-19 (57.9%).

Part of what enabled Roosevelt to get back into the game was Maurice Commander's excellent three-point shooting performance, who finished the night with 6 makes on 10 attempts. Commander gave the Lakers a 6 point lead late in the first half after the Lakers battled back to tie the contest.

However, Mukes tied the game at 35-35 just before the half. The second half saw the Lakers take possession of the lead early, although the Saints never trailed by more than just a few points.

With just 1:23 to go in the game, the Lakers led by one, and the Saints desperately needed a defensive stop. Commander missed his three-point shot, and sophomore guard AJ Roseman grabbed the rebound. However, junior guard Nash Hostetler was called for a foul.

Both the crowd and the Holy Cross bench were in disbelief as it appeared that Mitchell had been the one to initiate contact with Hostetler, not the other way around. Head coach Mike McBride argued with the official who made the call. But the ruling stood, sending Roosevelt went to the line.

Prater Forte missed his foul shot, and the Saints went down the court where junior guard Justin O’Neal was fouled and made both his free throws to give the Saints a 62-61-point lead.

Roosevelt’s Njie Sangolay made a jumper to put the Lakers up by one with 31 seconds to go. After a long Saints possession ended with an O’Neal miss, the Lakers got hold of the ball and successfully ran the remaining four seconds off the clock.

Despite their excellent performance against one of NAIA’s best teams and an early 10-point lead, the Saints came up short, 63-62 in the final moments.

With the loss, the Saints fell to 7-11 (2-8) and are now eight games back of the CCAC-leading Roosevelt Lakers. The Saints are just two games back of eighth place Judson, meaning a conference playoff berth is not out of the question.

The team will travel to rival IUSB on Wednesday to take on the Trojans, who are 7-3 in conference play.

The Saints have struggled against the Trojans historically, going 11-18 against them since 2009. The two teams played earlier this year, losing at home heartbreakingly, 42-41. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Holy Cross College women’s basketball team also hosted CCAC foe Roosevelt as the team attempted to bounce back from a tough home loss against Governors State. A dismal shooting performance from the floor for the Saints combined with a quick start for the Lakers resulted in an 83-68 loss for the Saints.

It was a tough shooting day for the Saints. The Lakers got off to a 15-4 lead before the Saints offense could really get going. After the first quarter, the Saints trailed 18-10.

The Lakers continued to build on their lead in the second quarter as the Saints' offense sputtered, struggling to make shots consistently.

The Lakers controlled the game from start to finish, with zero lead changes and zero ties. Their largest lead of 21 came with 6:20 to go in the fourth quarter. The Saints eventually cut it to 15 with a final score of 83-68.

Only two Saints players had strong offensive performances: juniors guard Jordyn Smith and forward Grace Adams. Smith played 37 minutes and led the team in scoring with 27 points, going 10-of-17 from the floor. She also added 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

Adams played 34 minutes and scored 21 points, the second-highest figure for Holy Cross. She also had 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

No other player broke 10 points. The three other starters (sophomore guard Kayliana Hammel, senior forward Neva Longhofer and senior guard Lauren Morris) combined for 14 points. Hammel, Longhofer and Morris went a combined 3-of-18.

The Saints went 21 of 61 from the floor as a team for a field goal percentage of 34.4. They only converted four of their 16 three-point attempts and were outscored 46-30 in the paint by the Lakers.

The one bright spot for the Saints came in the form of free throws. The Saints went to the line 25 times and converted 22 shots (88%). The Lakers reached the line 24 times and only made 16 (66.7%).

The Saints are now 8-10 (5-5) and have dropped to sixth in the CCAC standings. They are five games back of first place IUSB and two games back of the Lakers (7-3 in conference play).

To host an opening-round playoff game, the Saints would need to make up its two-game deficit and see the Lakers finish with a worse record. If the two teams had a tied record, the difference would come down to how each team performed against the CCAC regular season champion, according to CCAC bylaws, since their head-to-head record is even.

That currently would be IUSB, who the Saints play on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Since 2009, the Saints are 7-20 all-time against the Trojans. Holy Cross has not won a game against IUSB since Feb. 2, 2019. The Saints will look to break that streak this Wednesday.