Holy Cross Saints women’s basketball played a second straight tough opponent to open up conference play and, subsequently, dropped to 0-2 in CCAC play. The Saints battled defending conference regular season champion, Saint Xavier, and kept it close early. However, the Cougars used a big third quarter to pull away and win 83-64.
Saint Xavier finished 21-1 in CCAC play last season and finished as the tournament runner ups. They entered the contest receiving votes in the national polls, the second straight opponent of such stature for the Saints. The performance was certainly an improvement from Holy Cross’s conference opener, an 85-37 defeat to Indiana University South Bend.
On Saturday, sophomore guard Jordyn Smith led the Saints with 14 points while also chipping in four rebounds and two assists. The game got off to a low-scoring grind of a start. The Saints didn’t score for the first 4 minutes and 41 seconds, missing their first four shots and turning the ball over three times. However, the Cougars only opened up a 5-0 lead in that slow start, keeping Holy Cross within reach. Over the final 4:20 of the quarter, the Saints allowed just three points and ripped off a 9-0 run, entering the break down just 12-11.
Saint Xavier scored the final three points of the first quarter and then dominated the start of the second, totaling 16-2 run to open up a 25-13 advantage. The Saints got back within four points on a couple of occasions, but they never clawed all the way back. Smith scored the Saints’ final five points to pull within 38-30 at halftime.
Down just eight, the Saints had their eyes on a stunning upset. But Saint Xavier outscored the hosts 25-14 in the third quarter to seize control. Spurts of five, six and eight straight points on different occasions sparked the Cougars during the stretch. Smith’s triple at the end of the period cut the deficit to 19 points at 63-44.
The result was virtually resolved entering the final ten minutes, and the two squads battled to a fourth-quarter stalemate with 20 points apiece. The Saints never got closer than 17 points. They finished the game shooting 35.2% as a team and were just 2-15 from three-point range.
Four Saints did finish in double digits for scoring, with freshman guard Audrey Tallent matching Smith’s 14 points. Sophomore forward Grace Adams added 13. And junior forward Neva Longhofer chipped in with 11 points. However, it was not enough to counter a scorching 56.1% shooting effort by the Cougars. Saint Xavier’s Alyssa Streeter led all scorers with 22 points on 10-14 shooting.
Saints fall in non-conference battle
Looking to break a two-game skid, the Saints couldn’t quite get on the right side of the result in their non-conference battle with Spring Arbor. Playing at home, the Saints got big efforts from Smith and Adams, who combined for 44 points. Adams added 11 rebounds for the double-double.
However, only one other player had more than seven points, and the top-heavy effort wasn’t enough. While the third quarter ended Holy Cross’s hopes in Saturday’s contest, on Monday evening, it was the second quarter. The Saints led 13-12 after ten minutes, but they shot 20% in the second quarter and were outscored 24-13.
In the third quarter, the Saints heated up, but they couldn’t seriously close the gap. They got within six at 55-49, but Spring Arbor’s Alana Nelson dropped in four straight to nudge their lead back to ten points. The next time the Saints were that close was after pair of free throws from Adams with 23 seconds to go to make it 77-72 in favor of the visitors.
Spring Arbor closed it out for the 79-72 win, improving to 4-0. Holy Cross fell to 2-5. They’ll look to improve on that mark against Governors State on Wednesday night in a conference game.