Sports Information Director
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Holy Cross women's basketball team hosted Robert Morris University in Monday night's Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) tournament opening round. Despite trailing from start to finish, the Saints used several runs to make things difficult for the Eagles. It was ultimately the dominant performance from Yolanda De La Torre that was too much for the Saints as she finished with a game-high 24 points and 26 rebounds as the Eagles ended the Saints season with an 82-68 victory. The Saints wrapped up their 2013-2014 campaign with an overall record of 8-22.
In a game that no one thought would happen 36 hours ago, the Saints made their first appearance in the CCAC postseason under the new 10-team format. After complications with facility scheduling, they were granted the opportunity to host the No. 4 seeded Eagles of the North Division.
With emotions rising in their final home game of the season, the Saints kept pace with the potent scoring attack of Robert Morris throughout the first 10 minutes of action in Monday night's postseason action. Carmen Lowe capped off a 6-0 scoring run for the Saints to tie the score at 18-18 at the 9:34 mark of the first half. Following the 6-0 run by the Saints, both teams struggled to score the basketball as the score remained tied at 18 until the 6:51 mark of the half. Robert Morris then rallied off seven consecutive points to take a late 25-18 lead.
The three-point shot began to fall for both teams as we inched closed to the end of the first half. Renee Reed of Robert Morris knocked down a trio of three-pointers to keep the Eagles in front.
Trailing by eight with 1:08 left in the first half, Kari Barnes finished off a layup to bring the Saints within six before Kristin Nitka drained a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to bring the Saints within three at the half at 41-38.
It was the bench production of the Saints which helped them get within one possession at the break; Kristin Nitka led the group with six points and a pair of three-pointers while Francesca McCarthy, Shelby Nelson and Carmen Lowe each added four points apiece. Maggie Gondeck led the Saints at the half with eight points and Jillian DeLucia was distributing the ball efficiently with nine assists.
Mary Fitzgerald got the Saints back within three after an early basket by the Eagles, however, the Eagles quickly opened up a nine-point lead following the layup from De La Torre. The Saints, however, were not going away without a fight. An ensuing 7-1 run, capped off by a Carmen Lowe basket, brought the Saints back within one possession at 52-49.
The Saints offense soon cooled down as they scored just seven points over the next nine minutes. Robert Morris was able to extend their lead to 11 points during that stretch.
With 6:03 remaining in the game the Saints turned in one final run. Francesca McCarthy capped off a 9-0 run with an and-one basket to bring the Saints within 67-65 with 3:45 left to play. That late run, though, would be the final surge for the Saints offensively. They scored just three points over the final 3:45, ultimately falling to the Eagles by a score of 82-68.
Yolanda De La Torre turned in one of the most impressive performances you could see over the final 20 minutes with 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 17 rebounds, including five offensive. Tikeyiah Johnson added 12 points in the second half for Robert Morris as they outscored the Saints 41-30 in the final half. De La Torre finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with 26 rebounds while Johnson finished with 21.
After a solid shooting first half, the Saints went 11-for-45 (24.4%) in the second half and 4-for-9 from the foul line.
Kari Barnes was the lone player to reach double figures for the Saints, finishing with a team-best 14 points. Lindsey Steffen added nine points and 12 rebounds while Jillian DeLucia finished with 10 assists.
The bench production continued to be solid for the Saints as all five players contributed at least three points. Kristin Nitka had nine points off the bench on 3-for-6 shooting from distance while Carmen Lowe and Francesca McCarthy contributed eight and seven points, respectively.
The Saints season will conclude with an 8-22 overall record while Robert Morris will head to top-seeded Purdue Calumet on Wednesday for the CCAC Quarterfinals.
- Lindsey Steffen surpassed 1,700 career points in Monday night's postseason matchup; Steffen will leave Holy Cross as the all-time leading scorer with 1,707 career points.
- Jillian DeLucia achieved 10 assists for the second time this season; DeLucia will leave Holy Cross as the all-time leader in assists (387).
- Kristin Nitka's three three-pointers set a new season-high for the senior.
- The Saints will end the 2013-2014 season having won at least eight games in each of the last three seasons.