Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

20221206, HCC Women's Basketball, Lauren Morris, Holy Cross, Ryan Vigilante, SMC Basketball-16.jpg

Saints get back on track against St. Ambrose

Women ride dominant third-quarter; men survive comeback scare on late 3-pointer

Both Holy Cross men's and women's basketball desperately needed a victory on Saturday. The men's team is in danger of falling out of the CCAC Tournament picture. The women entered the weekend barely holding onto a playoff spot that they needed to solidify. Both got the job done against St. Ambrose, with the women going on the road while the men defended their home court.

The first half of the women's game created little separation, with Holy Cross taking a 2-point lead into halftime. But the Saints came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. Thanks to a 57.9% shooting performance from the field and a 66.7% effort from 3-point range that included the team's only 4 made 3-pointers all game, Holy Cross outscored the Fighting Bees 28-15 in the third quarter, allowing them to comfortably secure the victory. Four Saints finished in double figures, led by sophomore guard Kayliana Hammel and junior forward Grace Adams with 16 apiece. Freshman guard Lilly Toppen also chipped in 11 off the bench.

Holy Cross took advantage of a sloppy showing by the 4-13 Fighting Bees, who committed an egregious 24 turnovers that led to 14 Saints points. St. Ambrose also shot a pitiful 2-14 from 3-point range. Even though the game was close early, Holy Cross led wire to wire. Had the Fighting Bees won, they would've been tied with Holy Cross for the No. 8 seed in the CCAC Tournament. Instead, the Saints now lead St. Ambrose and St. Francis by 2 games.

The Saints' men's team found itself in a total shootout. Before Saturday, Holy Cross had neither scored or allowed at least 90 points in a game this season. Both of those things changed when St. Ambrose came to town as the home team pulled out a tight 94-91 win. The Saints jumped out to a 12-2 lead and led by a solid margin for essentially the entire half, going into the break with an 11-point lead. Things got tighter late in the half. Up 12 with just over four minutes to play, a lightning quick 13-2 Fighting Bees run tied the game with 1:23 to play. After St. Ambrose's Atem Agot missed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 32 seconds left, the Saints had a chance for some late game heroics. Sophomore guard Phil Robles II delivered them, draining the game-winning 3 just 3 seconds left, and St. Ambrose was never able to even get a desperation heave away to try to answer.

Unsurprisingly, it took a village of contributions to win such a wild game. Robles and sophomore guard Drew Adzia sunk 7 of Holy Cross' 10 3-point makes, missing just twice between them. Freshman forward Desmond Davie delivered one of the best all-around games of his collegiate career, recording a 30-point, 12-rebound double-double. Junior guard Justin O'Neal accounted for 21 points himself and only Davie had more than his 5 rebounds.

Somehow, the Saints barely won a game in which they shot 61.2% from the field and 76.9% from deep. The Fighting Bees took 16 more field goal attempts and outscored Holy Cross by 16 points in the paint. But the rebound and turnover battles were both close, which prevented St. Ambrose from being able to overcome their shooting struggles. The Saints are 3-9 in conference play, 1.5 games back of Governors State for the final playoff spot.

Both teams conclude their January schedules on Wednesday at home against Indiana Northwest. The men tip-off at 5:30 p.m. and the women at 7:30 p.m.

Sign up for our Observer Sports newsletter!

Have an Irish sports question? Ask it for our Observer Sports mailbag!