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Saints stomp Maple Leaves

The Holy Cross women’s basketball team dominated Goshen College on Saturday afternoon at home in McKenna Arena.

Senior guard Jayda Miller’s 33 points steered the Saints past the Maple Leaves 84-48.

Holy Cross scored first, getting on the board with a corner three from junior guard Lauren Morris less than a minute into the game.

Goshen countered quickly with a long two, but a rebound by sophomore forward Grace Adams led to a Miller three-pointer, giving the Saints a 6-2 advantage.

Three more Holy Cross buckets, including a layup and another three-pointer from Miller, drove the Saints ahead of the Maple Leaves 13-2 after four minutes of play, forcing Goshen to call a timeout.

The Maple Leaves knocked down a layup shortly after the break but were unable to change the narrative for the rest of the period.

The Saints, traversing speedily down the court in transition, jumping on loose balls and shooting clean from the three-point and free-throw lines, came away from the first quarter with an imposing 28-11 lead.

During the second quarter, the Saints continued to win the battle in the paint on both sides of the court. Sloppy play midway through the quarter generated quite a few more fouls against the Saints, but Maple Leaves failed to work this to their benefit.

The score at halftime stood at 44-28, and Holy Cross hustled off the court, anxious to complete the groundwork they had laid over the first 20 minutes of play.

Less than a minute into the third quarter, Morris picked up her fourth foul and was sat. Three more layups from Miller, amidst a good of deal possession squabbling and a Goshen bucket then hushed away any Maple Leaf momentum that could have come from the 15-minute break.

The Goshen press proved ineffective against Holy Cross, and the Saints built their lead, finishing ahead 60-39 at the end of the three quarters.

Holy Cross came out in the fourth quarter as hot as they’d been all game.

The Saints picked up four layups less than three minutes into the fourth, three by Adams and one by sophomore guard Jordyn Smith, before the Maple Leaves had the chance to put up any fourth quarter points.

The ample Goshen roster remained loud on the bench to the bitter end, but the Saints were the ones dribbling it out on their way to an 84-48 victory.

In the final period of play, Holy Cross tacked on 15 points to their third quarter lead, finishing as 36-point winners.

On top of Miller’s 33 points, Adams came away with 13 rebounds, six on offense, and Smith eked out six steals of her own.

Head coach Tom Robbins attributed the Saints’ firm performance to the squad’s preparation following a frustrating loss against Bethel on Thursday.

“We had a bad loss a couple of days ago and the players really took ownership amongst themselves and set some goals and really brought themselves together to prepare for this game,” Robbins said.

Robbins was impressed by his players ability to finish out the game, having played hard from start to finish.

“We had a lot of tired girls at the end of that game,” he said. “But we have enough. We were strong enough and in good enough shape to finish this game.”

Robbins credited Miller’s dominant offensive showing to the team’s young supporting talent. Unlike in previous years, the senior has not been forced to take so many shots.

“[Miller] has really developed some more shot selection that’s not always been the case,” he said. “I thought it really came through today, because she got really hot, and it would be a temptation for her to just keep shooting no matter what, but she kept within her lane.”

The defensive leadership from Adams and Smith stood out to Robbins as well.

“I felt like Grace and Jordyn Smith took the team on their back in a lot of different ways,” Robbins added. “Beyond just scoring … I thought those two players, they showed that everybody else this is how you win, this is what winning basketball looks like. Follow us.”

Saturday afternoon’s victory lifts Holy Cross to 2-2 on the season. The Saints will match-up against Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) Wednesday back on their home court.

“We’ve kind of had been developing a rivalry with [IUSB],” Robbins said. “They’re one of the best teams in our conference and one of the best teams in the region.”

As it stands, the rivalry is a little one sided — the Holy Cross woman have yet to beat the Titans.

“We look at them and I’m not sure they’re looking at us yet,” Robbins said. “We want that to be the case. We want to get them to a position where they’re starting to look at us as a threat.”

This early-season, statement win for the Saints is as if to say: we’re ready to compete locally and in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference at large.

The Saints are back home in South Bend to compete against the Titans on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.

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