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Saints lose two close games on the road

The Holy Cross men’s and women’s basketball teams went on the road to face Roosevelt University as they resumed conference play on Wednesday.

The women’s team tipped off at 6:30 pm, and though Roosevelt won the opening, it was the Saints who earned the first points of the game, courtesy of a layup by sophomore forward Grace Adams. The Saints dominated the first five minutes of action, building up a 14-4 lead thanks in part to Adams and a three-point bucket by junior guard Lauren Morris.

The last five minutes of the first quarter belonged to the Lakers, as the Saints went 3:51 without hitting a shot. The cold stretch allowed the Lakers to score 16 unanswered points. Luckily for the Saints, senior guard Jayda Miller hit a three with seven seconds left to make it a one-point game going into the second.

The second quarter saw an inverse of the first, with the Lakers building an eight-point lead with 4:49 left in the quarter. However, sophomore guard Jordyn Smith contributed five points in a 10-2 Saints run that took the Saints into the half down one.

The third quarter continued the incredibly close contest with the lead changing five times in the third alone. Whereas previous quarters saw drastic swings, the third quarter spread peaked at a five-point Roosevelt lead, which the Saints were quickly able to erase.

As the quarter wound down to the final minute, with the Saints down one, freshman forward Carly Spalding stepped to the line and hit both her shots. Roosevelt responded with a layup in the final 20 seconds. But Miller was able to knock down a three that gave the Saints a two-point lead heading into the final quarter.

The Lakers quickly took back the lead from the Saints at 8:48, and they held onto it until 3:26 when Smith hit one of her two free throws, tying the game at 74-74.

Roosevelt quickly drove for a layup to re-establish a four-point lead. However, Smith answered the bell once again, and she would go on to score 11 of the Saints’ last 13 points, keeping them in the game.

Ultimately, it would not be enough, as an intentional foul by Miller would send Roosevelt to the free throw line trailing by one. Roosevelt made both shots, enough to finish off a 90-87 win.

The road loss sends the Saints back below .500 to 5-6 overall with a 2-3 conference record. It also snaps a three-game win streak and a five-game win streak against the Lakers.

Holy Cross will look to get back to .500 against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 6 at 6:00 pm. Historically, the Saints have performed well against Saint Mary’s, winning both contests by an average margin of 13 points.

Just like the women’s team, the men’s team earned the first two points despite Roosevelt winning the opening tip. The opening minutes saw an incredibly completive, back-and-forth game, with four different ties. Holy Cross slowly began to build out a lead, as the two teams continued to trade buckets well into the first 12 minutes of the game.

With the Saints leading 21-17, senior forward Mick Sullivan made a layup, assisted sophomore guard Nash Hostetler’s jump shot and got a second layup, giving the Saints a 27-19 lead.

The Lakers were able to cut the Saints’ lead to three. But Sullivan continued his stellar play and helped the Saints maintain their eight-point lead going into the half.

The second half opened with Roosevelt beginning to chip away at the Saints’ eight-point lead until freshman Tommy Snyder hit two free throw attempts. Hostetler added to the lead with a three-point lead, building the Saints’ lead to a game-high of 11 points.

It was here where the Lakers went on a 14-0 run fueled by two Saints turnovers, a foul and a missed three-point attempt, giving the Lakers a three-point lead with 15:42 left in the game.

The Saints battled to reclaim the lead and were able to do so, thanks to senior guard Beau Ludwick’s three and Snyder’s layup. But that would be the last time they had a lead in the game.

The Saints once again allowed the Lakers to go on a game-changing run thanks to two missed threes, two missed field goals and a turnover. Thanks to the Lakers 11-2 run, the Saints now trailed the Lakers by eight with 6:50 left in the game.

The Saints went on a 10-2 run themselves, with Sullivan scoring six of the team’s points. Now tied for the sixth time at 64-64 with 2:20 remaining. But the Saints only scored three points the rest of the way, with Ludwick hitting a free throw and freshman Drew Adzia hitting two of his own.

The Lakers were able to score five points and put the game away when the Lakers’ Ayo Ajiboye stole the ball from Hostetler. Roosevelt won by a 69-67 final.

The Saints now fall to 3-7 on the season and 1-4 in conference play. They will look to turn things around on Dec. 7, when they face out-of-conference foe Siena Heights University on the road.

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Sports

Saints drop game to winless Jaguars

The Holy Cross Saints came into Wednesday night’s game at McKenna Arena looking to rebound from four straight losses following a victory to begin the season. This would be the last game the Saints played at McKenna Arena in Notre Dame until December 10, with five straight games on the road approaching. The game would also represent the Saints’ third game of conference play in CCAC, in which they were winless thus far. Their opponent would be the Governors State Jaguars, a 0-5 team.

Holy Cross came out on fire against the underwhelming Jaguars defense, shooting 57% from the field and 44% from the three point line in the first half. Senior forward Mick Sullivan, a transfer from Quincy University, set a strong pace for the Saints offense. He would ultimately finish the game as the team’s leading scorer with 22 points on 11/14 shooting.

The Saint 42-37 lead going into the second half quickly  evaporated through a combination of revived Jaguar play and an inability for the sloppier Saints team to put the game out of reach. The Jaguars took a slight lead, and the game became a tussle of rebound battles and turnovers. It would be those turnovers which would produce an extra 17 points for the Jaguars, demoralizing the Saints as they tried to battle back. The Saints’ bench also failed to adequately produce compared to GSU, scoring four points to the Jaguars’ 16. It is worth noting Coach McBride chose to only play seven players in this battle while Governors State brought out eleven. 

The Saints continued to shoot the ball efficiently, however, leading to a nail biter. Freshman guard Phil Robles had an opportunity to win the game with a last second three point shot, but just missed the clincher. The Jaguars secured the game 76-74, extending this streak of difficulty for the Saints. Despite out-rebounding the Jaguars 32-26, shooting better from three point range and the free throw line, scoring more points in the paint(38-28) and second chance points(16-7), the Jaguars capitalized extremely well off Saint miscues. 

The Saints have now dropped to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play. Their next game will be this Saturday, November 19th, at Judson University, in a conference matchup in Elgin, Illinois. The Saints hope they can rebound and get this season back on track against a 1-5 Eagles team that stands above them in the CCAC. 

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Sports

Holy Cross men’s and women’s basketball teams prepare for a new season

The Holy Cross women’s basketball team went 15-15 overall (10-12 in conference play) last season. They were just one win shy of setting a win’s total record in program history. The goal for this season?

“[Best season in program history], that is the minimum expectation,” said head coach Tom Robbins. “One more win, and we would have had it last year, and we have most of our players back, and the freshmen we are adding, they move us forward.” 

Robbins will have a smaller than usual team this year, just ten players in total. However, the quality of his squad is what gives Robbins his confidence. He does admit that the lack of depth is a potential weakness, though.

“We keeps us [from our goals] is injury… we do not have a huge margin for error, we are going to sustain injuries like anybody does, but if we have any long-term, multiple game injuries out of our players, that is going to be hard for us to overcome.”

Though the squad has just one senior in guard Jayda Miller, junior guard Lauren Morris and junior forward Neva Longhofer have also stepped up and have helped prepare the team during the offseason. 

The Saints will look to spread the floor with their shooters like Morris and Miller. Then, they will use a two-man game down low, utilizing athletic guards who can attack the rim, with bigs crashing the boards for rebounds. All in all, Robbins would like to shoot from the two more often than from range.

“I like a 2/3 to 1/3 balance between twos and threes… that’s a little more conservative than what a lot of the NAIA has been trending toward; a lot more teams are 50-50 these days.”

Robbins is incredibly excited about his freshman players. Elizabeth Edmonds, a starting-caliber player, occupies the center potion that Sara White left vacant. Audrey Tallent is an incredibly dynamic freshman guard. And sophomore guard Jordyn Smith, who is an incredible passer, should see starter minutes as well. 

Defensively, the team will look to clog passing lanes in the half-court and trap the opposition in a full-court defense. The Saints will then try to funnel the opposition into mid-range shots. Ideally, they will force them to shoot off the dribble late into the shot clock. 

Instrumental to that will be Grace Adams, a sophomore forward whom Robbins said can 1-5. Robbins thought back to last year when the Saints won a game by holding the opposing team to zero points for about six straight minutes in the fourth quarter. Adams was the primary reason for their dominance.

“They thought the best thing to do was take guard and go right at her because our matchups, Grace ended up happening to guard [their lead player], and they thought that was their advantage, and Grace shut her down every single time.” 

In contrast to the women’s team, the Holy Cross men’s basketball team took a bit of a step back last season. The men’s team went 13-17 overall with an 8-14 conference record. For a team that had made the NAIA National Tournament the last two seasons, last season was disappointing.

Nevertheless, head coach Mike McBride is confident his team can return to their winning ways. For McBride, that means focusing on the little things.

“To be honest, we talk very little about [outcome-based goals] because [they] are always a byproduct of what you are doing day in and day out, so our expectation is that we are growing closer and more unified as a team daily, that our level of intensity and execution rises daily and if we do that then those outcome-based expectations and goals become a byproduct of our daily improvements.” 

Helping to improve the team every day are senior leaders Jalen Martin, Beau Ludwick and Mick Sullivan.

A 6’4” forward, Martin missed most of the previous season due to injury, playing in only two games. Now that he is healthy again, McBride expects him to be a significant part of the Saint’s defense. 

“[Jaylen] has great length, so we think he can be a versatile defender, we think he can guard inside and out, he has really improved skill-wise, we think he has become a much-improved shooter, so that is a dynamic we really need obviously with the loss of Ryan Black,” McBride said.

The Saints will play a traditional man-to-man defense, with adjustments as needed. They’ll tend to avoid switching defenders, preferring the pre-game matchups. Martin’s ability to guard one through five brings a unique skill set to the Saints, who struggled defensively last season.

Ludwick, a 6’2” guard, is expected to be another key defensive player. His skill set allows him to draw top perimeter shooting assignments night in and night out.

“He is great one-on-one on the ball, and he has as good a vision and instinct off the ball as anybody we have, so we think he can really be outstanding,” McBride said.  

Sullivan, the team’s starting center, is once again expected to be a force for the team on offense. He will feature in the low post, looking to dominate the paint, grab rebounds and find shooters on the outside when he inevitably draws multiple defenders. McBride said that having Sullivan back and healthy, along with the additions of freshmen forwards Tommy Snyder and Joe Kelly, has led to a new strategy for the team offensively. 

“We have the guys we think that can make those, but we do want to play with that inside-out mentality. We are really emphasizing playing inside, attacking the paint both with post-play, with cutting, and with driving, so I think having a much more inside-dominated approach is maybe a little different than what we had last year,” McBride said. 

The seniors are certainly not alone in guiding the team. Last year’s standout freshmen, Justin O’Neal and Nash Hostetler are coming off sensational seasons. And McBride only expects them to improve. 

“We expect a lot out of those two in terms of production and what they do and bring to the game each night… we also think they both of these guys have great leadership potential, and I do not want to wait until they are senior for that to emerge,” McBride said.

The women’s team will begin their season on the road in Huntington Indiana when they face Huntington University. Tipoff is at 1 p.m. Friday. The men will have a home opener to start the season when they play host to East-West University Monday at 6 p.m.