After the Holy Cross women’s basketball team earned their first win against Huntington University, 64-61, the Saints lost 68-99 to Grace College.
Grace had a much better time moving the ball, and they had 28 assists to Holy Cross’s 13 and scored 25 points on the fast break (Holy Cross only had three). Grace also offensively dominated the Saints in the paint, scoring 64 points down low.
So, with a blowout loss leaving a sour taste in the Saint’s mouth, the squad turned its attention to its home opener against hometown rival Bethel. Head coach Tom Robbins said that the combination of playing a rival and the blowout loss motivated the team.
“We did not play the kind of basketball that we wanted to play against Grace, so two days later, it is a chance to redeem yourself. That is the mentality we want our players to have,” he said.
Saints start fast
The Pilots have owned the series in the last five meetings, boasting a four-game winning streak, with the Saints not having won since 2017. Holy Cross got off to a fast start and stayed with the Pilots all game, but they couldn’t quite get over the hump, falling 76-70.
The Saints came out aggressively in the first quarter, going 10 of 20 from two-point range to take a 20-14 lead over the Pilots at the end of the first quarter. A strong Bethel shooting performance from behind the arc got the Pilots back into the game, but the Saints led 32-31 at the half.
Robbins said the team was unsatisfied with how they let Bethel play toward the end of the half.
“We were up ten at one point,” he said. “And we felt like we let them come back in that game to finish out the second quarter. What we wanted to do was reestablish ourselves from what we had done earlier in the game.”
Bethel squeaks by in back-and-forth second half
The Saints reestablished themselves by taking a 48-43 lead with just under two minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. However, Bethel hit some key shots, including a three to tie the game at 48 apiece. Ultimately, it was a one-point game at the break.
Coming into the fourth quarter Holy Cross took a 53-50 lead thanks to a jump shot from sophomore forward Grace Adams. Unfortunately for the Saints, the Pilots got hot from behind the arc, hitting three unanswered shots from downtown as Bethel went on an 11-point run.
As the game crossed the five-minute mark, sophomore guard Jordyn Smith got hot, hitting a jump shot and a clutch three to tie the game at 63 with just four minutes to go. Senior guard Jayda Miller was then able to hit another three a minute later to give the Saints a 66-63 lead.
However, Bethel’s Ellia Foster went on a run of her own and scored the game’s next seven points, and with 33 seconds left, gave the Pilots a four-point lead.
Though the Saints cut the lead to 71-68, Bethel did just enough to hold onto the win.
Rebounding and 3-point defense woes doom Saints
The Saints were outrebounded by a margin of 47-28, which allowed the Pilots to score 22 second-chance points. Holy Cross only scored five off of rebounds.
It is a trend that, if it continues, could prove a significant difficulty for the Saints.
The Saints allowed Bethel to shoot 10 of 17 from deep, including four shots in the fourth quarter. That means the Saints allowed Bethel to shoot 58.8% beyond the arc, canceling out the 27 points that the Saints got off turnovers. Robbins emphasized that the girls have some work to do on guarding the perimeter.
“I told the girls just because you are standing in front of them does not mean you are guarding them,” he said. “You have to get your hand over the ball. You have to make them take the ball out of their shooting pocket. If they are standing there with the ball in their shooting pocket, they are comfortable, and they have to be uncomfortable.”
The Saints next turn their attention to the Goshen College Maple Leafs when they play again in McKenna Arena, on Nov. 5, at 1 p.m.