HCC Men's Basketball
Saints ranked in Division II Top 25 for first time in program history
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Program history was made last week when the Holy Cross men’s basketball team (16-5, 11-2 CCAC) earned a ranking on the NAIA Division II national poll for the first time in the program’s history, coming in at the No. 25 spot last Wednesday.
The night the poll came out, the Saints had a chance to play host to one of the top contenders on that list at home — the No. 4 Olivet Nazarene Tigers.
The Tigers (19-2, 11-2 CCAC) made their trip to the NAIA Division II National Tournament back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016 and returned for their third appearance last season. Although the Tigers managed to earn a 12-16 record in NAIA Division II tournament play, advancing to the semifinals in 2000 and the final eight in their next three appearances, their postseason play has slowed down since then and they have earned a 0-3 record since 2015.
The Saints, on the other hand, have yet to make a trip to the tournament in the program’s history.
Just last season, the Tigers won the 14-team CCAC conference tournament by two games over Holy Cross to clinch the tournament berth. The Tigers are led by junior forward Nic Reed, who was named CCAC Player of the Year last year and who just last Saturday broke Olivet Nazarene’s all-time scoring record with a total of 2,776 points.
The Saints are led by senior forwards Parker Sims and Larenzo Moore as well as senior guard Robby Jimenez, all of whom put up big numbers against Olivet Nazarene. The Saints were able to find their 15th win of the season against the Tigers, who were dealt just their second loss of the season.
The Saints outshot the Tigers from the field in dominating fashion, finishing with a team percentage from the field of 59% to the Tigers’ 44%. The same went for shots behind the arc as well, as Holy Cross shot an even 50% from deep while the Tigers shot just 40% from three-point range.
The Saints had five players finish with double-digit points, as Sims and Jimenez paved the way with 18 points and five boards apiece. Moore followed closely behind with 16 points and was able to pull down nine rebounds. Junior guards Storm Cook and Jordan Gaines rounded out the shooting display for Holy Cross, both finishing the contest with 14 points. And despite the Tigers holding a 12-5 all-time series lead over the Saints’ head, Holy Cross was able to turn the tide and push the record to 12-6, with a final score of 85-68 in a resounding Saints victory.
Over the weekend, the Saints were able to narrowly escape Judson University, 65-62, and are on a good track to make it into the national tournament this year. The next Coaches Poll for the Top 25 will be released on Feb. 5.
The Saints will close out that time frame with games against Calumet College of St. Joseph at home Wednesday, a road match at Roosevelt University on Saturday and two more home games against Governors State University and Robert Morris University.