Arlington Heights, Ill. - The Holy Cross men's basketball team let another pivotal Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference game slip through their hands Saturday afternoon. The Saints traveled to take on the only remaining undefeated CCAC team in RV Robert Morris University. After trailing by over 20 points in the first half the Saints battled back in the second half to send the game into overtime. Holy Cross fell in overtime 89-87 to the Eagles, and drop to 9-10 overall and 5-5 in CCAC play.
Robert Morris showed why they have not lost a conference game in the first three minutes of Saturday's game. Before the men's basketball team could even catch their breath the host, Eagles, held a 22-2 lead over the Saints with 15:42 remaining in the first half. Despite the large deficit, the Saints showed no signs of giving up. After finding their rhythm, Holy Cross cut the lead to 11 on a Robby Jimenez triple assisted by Madison McCaffrey. McCaffrey knocked in two free throws and three three pointers over four minute span to cut the Eagles' lead to nine points. A Ja'Mare Washington free throw before the half gave Robert Morris a 45-37 advantage heading into the locker room. Holy Cross shot 13-25 from the field and 6/10 from behind the arc to cut an early 20 points lead to 8 heading into the second half. McCaffrey is was 4 of 5 from deep to lead the Saints with 14 points at the break.
The second half was an even battle between the Saints and Eagles, with the Saints never closing the gap to less than 6. Big men Bryce Crosen and Washington took advantage of the Robert Morris defense that was looking to take away the outside shooter of the Saints. Both dominated the paint in the second half to give Holy Cross the boost they needed. A Washington layup cut the lead to 4, but the Eagles went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 10 with 10:51 remaining.
After a Markee Williams layup with 1:37 remaining the Eagles held a 79-73 lead. On the ensuing possession, O'Brien Hobbs found himself all alone on the right wing where he knocked in a triple to cut the lead to 3. With 33 seconds, Robert Morris' leading scorer drove the ball baseline for an uncontested layup to give the hosts a 5 point lead. The Saints isolated Crosen on the right block where he back down the Eagle defender to connect on a layup. Holy Cross ran a full court press after the layup, which led to a Nate Miller steal with 15 seconds remaining. Miller flipped the ball outside to Crosen who used a shot fake and side dribble to free himself for the game tying three pointer with 10 seconds remaining. With the clock winding down, Robert Morris pushed the ball down to the corner where a three point attempt fell short at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, missed free throws hurt Holy Cross' chances of pulling off the upset. The Saints were up two when Ryan Lutz blocked a three point attempt, but the tipped ball found its way under the basket, where Robert Morris finished the layup. After two free throws the Eagles led by 2 as O'Brien Hobbs drove to the basket where his shot was blocked by a helpside defender, forcing the Saints to foul. With 12 seconds left Robert Morris missed the front end up the one and one to give Holy Cross a chance to tie of when the game. Lutz dished the ball off to Crosen who was able to fire off a semi-contested triple attempt that fell inches short from the Saints pulling off the massive comeback and upset.
Holy Cross was led by senior Madison McCaffrey who scored 23 points on 7/13 shooting from the field. Bryce Crosen had a big second half as he finished with 19 points and team-high 7 rebounds. Ja'Mare Washington and Ryan Lutz both finished the game with 13 points apiece. Senior O'Brien Hobbs also scored in double digits, recording 11 points. Nate Miller led the team in assists with 7.
The Saints (9-10, 5-5) return to action against one of the CCAC's hottest teams. Holy Cross travels to Calumet College of St. Joseph to take on the Crimson Wave at 8:00pm Wednesday night.