(Valparaiso, Indiana) The Saints (1-2) were on the road Monday night at NCAA Division I opponent Valparaiso University, facing the (1-1) Crusaders. Valparaiso came into the contest after almost knocking off #16 Arizona 73-64 in the previous week.
The Saints were sporting brand-new black uniforms for the first ever meeting against Valpo, but the home crowd of 1,957 was almost exclusively dressed in brown, yellow, or white.
The Crusaders started off hot in their opening game at the Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC), shooting 52% from the field in the first half, and getting 2nd Team All-Conference forward Taylor Williams (South Bend, Indiana) in foul trouble early.
The front court of the Saints were in foul trouble most of the game, as head coach Schermerhorn had forwards Andrew Tullis (Orland, Indiana), Adam Onderdonk (South Bend, Indiana), and Williams in foul trouble from the get go.
The Saints could not contain Valpo's Kevin Van Wijk, who almost had a double-double in the first half with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Van Wijk finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in just 14 minutes of action. Richie Edwards scored 8 of his team-leading 25 points in the first half, helping the Crusaders open up a 43-16 halftime lead.
Points were hard to come by for the Saints, as even Holy Cross' sharp shooter, junior Yama Kader (Trabuco, California) hard a hard time getting open shots. Kader made just 2 of his 12 first half shot attempts, but he finished strong with 13 points and 2 steals.
Williams played just 21 minutes, and tallied 5 points, 4 boards, and 2 helpers. The Saints also got 5 points from senior Zac Cook (South Bend, Indiana) and 4 from senior Adam Onderdonk (South Bend, Indiana).
Every player on the roster got his chance to shine, as Zoe Bauer (Culver, Indiana) got some extended playing time, knocking down a 3-pointer and adding another basket for 5 points in 13 minutes. Sophomore big man Pat Derksen (Noblesville, Indiana) recorded 3 rebounds, an assist, and a bucket in 9 minutes.
The Holy Cross offense was never much of a factor, but after a Kader trey and a free throw by Williams with 3:38 remaining in the first period, the Saints were down 33-14 but felt the momentum shifting. The Crusaders switched to a zone defense the next timeout, which stifled any Holy Cross pressure for the rest of the period.
The second half was more of the same, as the Saints traded baskets with the Crusaders, who ultimately went on a 29-10 run to run away with the game. The Saints stalled in many key areas, including scoring down low and bench production. The Crusaders topped the Saints in points in the paint (46-10) and bench points (46-14).
It was the Crusaders who had the proverbial hot hands tonight, shooting an unconscious 61.1% from the field for the game, and made 76% of their free-throws, compared to Holy Cross' 23.3% shooting and 63% from the charity stripe.
The Saints dropped the game 88-38, and the tough schedule will continue, as Holy Cross will face an extremely physical conference foe in Robert Morris University Wednesday night at McKenna Arena.
The Eagles of RMU have been to the NAIA Final Four 7 times since 2002, and ended their 2010-2011 campaign of 32-2 to eventual champion Pikesville. Pikesville is the current #1 team in the nation-wide NAIA this year.
Tip-off is scheduled for approximately 7:45, after the conclusion of the 5:30 PM match up of the Holy Cross women against RMU.