Sports Information Director
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Holy Cross women's basketball team rallied from a 10-point first half deficit to take a six-point lead in the second half against No. 8 ranked Saint Xavier University on Wednesday night, but it was the Cougars who would ultimately rally late to defeat the Saints 79-76 in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) play.
The Saints kicked off their highly anticipated matchup with the No. 8 ranked Cougars with an early lead in the opening stages of Wednesday night's contest with the help of seven quick points from senior Megan Eve (Scottsburg, Ind.). Eve opened up the game with seven of the Saints first 10 points as they clung to a 10-8 advantage in the first five minutes. The Saints would hold a three-point advantage at the near midway point of the first half before 2012-2013 CCAC Player of the Year Morgan Stuut began getting in an offensive rhythm. Led by Stuut, the Cougars closed out the final six minutes of the first half on a 13-4 run to open up a 37-27 advantage over the Saints.
After giving up the late run to close out the first half, the Saints kicked off the second half with a 16-4 run over the first five minutes to take their first lead since the 9:51 mark of the first half. The Saints would extend their lead to as many as six points following the jumper from Mary Fitzgerald (Livonia, Mich.) with 12:35 to play in the game.
Saint Xavier would retake the lead at the 9:47 mark of the second half and extend it to nine points with less than five minutes to play. Jillian DeLucia (Fishers, Ind.) capped off a late surge by the Saints, including a 14-6 run, to cut it to one-point with 33 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, their comeback would fall just short. The Saints would have two opportunities to tie the game in the final seconds but were unable to get their chances to fall. Saint Xavier held on the late surge by the Saints to win by a final score of 79-76. Holy Cross turned 11 Saint Xavier turnovers into 15 points in the second half during their rally.
Maggie Gondeck finished the game with 20 points to lead the Saints. Jillian DeLucia added 15 points, five rebounds and eight assists while Megan Eve finished with a season-high 12 points. Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.) added her third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Morgan Stuut finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the Cougars.
- Five Saints reached double figures in scoring in the game. Four of the five starters achieved the feat while Kari Barnes (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added 10 off the bench.
- The 76 points is the most the team has scored since their Dec. 28 win against Marygrove (Mich.).
- This was the sixth time this season that the Saints finished with more assists than turnovers (18-12).
- Lindsey Steffen has recorded double-doubles in back-to-back games for the first time this season. She now has three in her last four games.
The Saints (5-16, 2-8 CCAC) will continue their three-game home stand on Monday, February 3 as they play host to former CCAC-member Illinois Tech. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. EST.