(Notre Dame, Indiana) The Holy Cross College men's basketball team began its season Wednesday night against the cross town arch-rival Bethel College Pilots.
The game was billed as the most even the rivalry has seen in the past few years, and the Saints were looking to end Bethel's recent dominance in front of a packed full and rowdy McKenna Arena at the Pfeil Center.
The blacked-out student section hindered the Pilots in the early going, as the Saints were solid on defense and got the offense started early on buckets by seniors Adam Dobrzykowski (South Bend, Indiana), and Taylor Williams (South Bend, Indiana), and a 3-pointer by Dane Okuda (Huntington Beach, California).
Williams put on a show for the crowd with two consecutive hustle plays in a span of seven seconds during the first half as he scored a bucket on a monstrous slam dunk assisted by J.T. Breveard (South Bend, Indiana) and then sprinted back on defense to swat Brandon Gerber's 3-point attempt.
The Saints managed to be up by four points twice in the opening half, only to be set back to a tie by Bethel's Darrell Hopkins, as he drained a jump shot for the Pilots with 5 seconds remaining in the half to knot the contest at 27.
Dobrzykowski poured in 8 points in the first half to go with a dish, four boards, and a block, and Williams added 9 points with 6 rebounds and a rejection of his own.
The second half began just as aggressive as the first, as junior Yama Kader (Trabuco, California) erupted for 20 second half points. The contest was never more than a two possession game until the 3:23 mark of the second half when Bethel's Taylor Kolbus hit a free throw to extend the Pilots' lead by 7 to 68-61.
The Saints found themselves down 68-67 with 1:44 remaining in regulation, but a pair of missed jump shots on both sides of the floor decided the game, as time expired after a missed floater by Breveard bounced off the rim with 2 seconds to go.
The fans were treated to a fantastic basketball game, as the players and coaches alike left everything out on the floor. The Saints lone short coming was allowing the Pilots to out rebound them 47-33. The Saints defense held the normally hot shooting Pilots to just 37.5% from the floor.
Yama Kader led the Saints in points with 23 on 8/21 shooting (38%) to go with 2 boards and an assist. Taylor Williams cleaned up underneath and finished with 11 rebounds, 18 points, a helper, and a block. Dobryzkowski ended up with 5 rebounds, 9 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
The Saints drop to 0-1, and resume play at home against Andrews University Tuesday, November 8th at 7:30 PM.