HCC men’s and women’s basketball teams fall in CCAC quarterfinals
Thomas Zwiller | Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Last week, the Holy Cross Men’s college team played in the opening round of the CCAC Tournament. The eighth-seeded Saints took on the conference regular season champion Olivet Tigers on Feb. 21.
Holy Cross @ Olivet
The Saints jumped out to an early 14-9 lead thanks to sophomore guard Justin O’Neal and freshman forward Tommy Snyder. However, the Tigers briefly took the lead 14-15 before sophomore guard Nash Hostetler and guard freshman Phil Robles combined for back-to-back three-pointers.
The Saints held the lead until 8:16 when an Olivet free throw put the Tigers up 27-28. Once Olivet took the lead, the game began to slip away from the Saints, with the Saints on the poor end of a 2-12 run. Trailing 29-40, the Saints strung together a 10-5 run to end the half down 39-45.
To start the second half, O’Neal hit a three-point shot to bring the Saints within three, but that was as close as the Saints got to the Tigers. The Tigers would quickly build up a double-digit lead. The Saints didn’t get within 10 points in the final 15 minutes, and they ultimately fell by a final score of 64-88.
After beating the Saints, Olivet fell in the CCAC Semifinals to the IUSB Trojans, 76-89. IUSB went on to win the CCAC Championship, clinching an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.
The quarterfinal loss officially ends the Saints’ season. Their final record is 14-15, with a conference record of 9-11.
HCC @ IU Northwest
The Holy Cross women’s team also played in the CCAC quarterfinals as the seventh seed, facing the second-seeded IU Northwest RedHawks.
The two squads played a very low-scoring first quarter, tied at 12 apiece. Both teams struggled mightily from the three, going a combined 0-10 from beyond the arc. Both teams also struggled from the floor, each only making a quarter of its field goals.
The RedHawks shooters seemed to wake up in the second quarter as the team put together a 10-0 run to take a commanding 22-12 lead. The Saints did not make a second-quarter field goal until a sophomore forward Grace Adams’ layup at 6:52.
Adams kept the Saints in the game, making the team’s first seven points in the second and nine of the team’s 11. Because of the Saints scoring drought (with Adams as the exception), Holy Cross entered halftime trailing 23-38.
The Saints continued to struggle from the floor, missing their first four jump shots until senior guard Jayda Miller knocked in a shot at 8:29. Despite their continued poor shooting, IU Northwest was also struggling to score, going 5-13, compared to the Saints 8-19. Thanks to their better shooting performance, the Saints closed the scoring gap slightly, entering the final quarter down 46-58.
The fourth quarter began with the Saints cutting their deficit to nine, the first time they had been within single digits since 2:03 in the second. The two squads began trading baskets, with neither team being able to slow the other. Down 55-66, Holy Cross called a 30-second timeout, looking to get back within ten. After back-to-back missed jump shots, it was junior forward Neva Longhofer who answered the bell, making a clutch three-point shot to bring the Saints back within striking distance.
The three brought some confidence to the Saints, as junior guard Lauren Morris made a layup, and Adams completed a three-point play to make it a six-point game. With less than a minute remaining and the deficit still at six, freshman forward Elizabeth Edmonds brought the Saints within four.
The effort would not be enough, however. After an intentional foul by the Saints, the RedHawks made both free throws, and when the Saints fouled them again, the RedHawks continued to make their free throws. Holy Cross dropped the quarterfinal clash by a 70-76 final score.
The narrow loss ends what is easily the most successful year in program history. With 16 regular season wins, the team set the record for wins in a single season. The team will look to build off their success this year when they return most of the squad, losing only senior guard Jayda Miller.