The Holy Cross College women’s basketball team stayed hot this weekend as the team defeated the Judson University Eagles, 81-56. The Saints, winners of five straight games, are now 13-11 and 10-6 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Saint’s first points came off sophomore guard Kayliana Hammel's free throw when she was fouled less than a minute into the game. She made both, giving the Saints a quick 2-0 lead. Judson responded, but the Saints never looked back after junior forward Grace Adams made a jump shot put Holy Cross up 4-2.
Hammel earned the first of her six steals as the Saints led 5-2, resulting in a three-point make from junior guard Jordyn Smith. Moments later, Hammel forced another steal that led to two more Smith points via a layup, giving the Saints a 10-2 lead and putting them firmly in control of the game.
Jordyn Smith led the Saints with 20 points as she went 7-13 from the floor in 32 minutes. She also contributed 4 assists (tied with senior guard Lauren Morris for the team high) and 4 steals.
Turnovers were a key part of the Saints' win. Holy Cross committed just 8 turnovers while forcing 27 out of Judson. The result was a 31-point difference in points off turnovers, as the Saints scored 38 off Judson’s many mistakes.
That early lead was all the Saints needed to take control of the game, as they outscored Judson by 15 in the first quarter and went into the second half with a 12-point lead. The third quarter was a high-scoring affair as the two teams combined for 50 points, but the Saints grew their lead by 6 points before winning the game 81-56.
The win ties the Saints for fifth in the CCAC with Indiana Northwest. Both teams are currently six games back of first-place Indiana South Bend (24-0, 16-0 CCAC). With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Saints are in a solid position to make the CCAC postseason playoff, with a two-game lead on seventh place Olivet Nazarene (11-13, 8-8 CCAC) and a four-game lead on eighth place St. Ambrose (6-15, 6-10 CCAC).
The Saints still have a chance to host a CCAC playoff game, though they would likely need to win out and see the Roosevelt Lakers (14-10, 12-4) lose two of their next four games, including a loss to IUSB by more than 35 points.
The Saints will look to extend their winning streak when they host Olivet Nazarene this Wednesday at McKenna Arena. The two teams played earlier this season, with the Saints losing 113-71. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST.
While the women’s basketball team has won five straight games in CCAC play, the men’s team has entered another losing streak in what has turned into a disappointing season. Their latest loss was to Judson University this Saturday, as the Saints lost 70-65 in a game that saw three lead changes and six ties. The loss drops them to 8-16 overall, with a dismal 3-13 record in conference play.
The Saints started with four straight three-pointers as junior guard Justin O’Neal and sophomore guard Phil Robles II hit two three-point attempts. Judson was able to keep pace with Holy Cross, staying within striking distance for much of the first half.
O’Neal logged 35 minutes, scoring 16 points and adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Robles II also played 35 minutes and scored 20 points, shooting 6-of-8 from 3-point range. The three other starters — junior guard Nash Hostetler, sophomore guard AJ Roseman, and freshman forward Desmond Davie — scored 14, 9 and 4 points, respectively. The Holy Cross bench scored just 2 points.
The Saints seemed to begin to pull away as Roseman made a three-point shot to put them up 39-31, but in the first half’s final two minutes, Judson made it a 39-37 game. The two teams spent much of the second half exchanging baskets as Judson tied the game only to see the Saints reclaim a two-point lead.
With 11:07 to go, the Saints sparked a quick 9-2 run over a three-minute period. But Judson continued to stay in the game by scoring points in the paint. With 1:20 left, the Eagles tied the game at 64 and then took a 66-64 lead off a Davie turnover. In the final 80 seconds, the Saints were outscored by the Eagles 8-1, and Judson closed out their senior night with a 70-65 win.
Part of the Saints' struggle was rebounding. Judson out-rebounded the Saints 36-18, including 10 offensive rebounds that led to second-chance points. Judson had 14 second chance points, while Holy Cross had just five.
The loss results in Holy Cross remaining a game behind Governors State and three games behind Calumet, who currently possess the eighth and final CCAC playoff spot.
The Saints have just four games remaining in the regular season -- two at home and two on the road. Their remaining home games are against fourth-place Olivet Nazarene (17-7, 11-5 CCAC) and fifth-place Saint Xavier (14-10, 9-7 CCAC). The Saints then go on a road trip to close the season, facing last-place Trinity Christian (5-19, 0-17 CCAC) and tenth-place Governors State (6-18, 4-12 CCAC).
Though it is far from likely, Holy Cross does have a hypothetical path to the playoffs. The Saints would need to win out while seeing Calumet lose their four remaining games, while St. Francis and Governors State would need to lose three of their last four.
The Saints will look to keep their season alive on Wednesday when they play host to Olivet Nazarene. The Saints last played Olivet in January and lost 77-63. They’ll look to avenge that loss at 7:30 p.m.