(Joliet, Illinois) The women's basketball team traveled to Joliet, Illinois Tuesday night to take on the Fighting Saints of the University of St. Francis. USF came into play with a record of 12-8 after a 25-point loss to Olivet Nazarene January 14th.
The Saints (5-14), were coming off a nail-biting 87-85 loss to Trinity International University last Saturday, and began the game on a high note by scoring the first three baskets of the game.
The Saints were up 6-0 just two minutes into the game, and enjoyed the lead for the entire first half, occasionally running the advantage up to 12 points. The Fighting Saints never lead during the first half, but were never out, cutting the Holy Cross lead to just 4 points before halftime. The Saints took a lead into the half 35-31 behind 8 points from both sophomore Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Indiana) and junior Mary Fitzgerald (Livonia, Michigan).
The second half was again dominated by the Saints early, as Holy Cross lead by as many as 8 in the early going. USF, behind its home crowd, mustered enough energy for a comeback, and rode their momentum to tie the game a 49 apiece at the 13:00 minute mark of the second half.
A second free-throw by USF's top player, Katie Gonnering, made the score 50-49, and the Fighting Saints took the lead for the first time in the game. Holy Cross responded and tied the game again at 55, only to see USF go on a run of its own and extended their lead to 8 points with two minutes remaining in the game.
Lindsey Steffen got the Saints close after completing a three-point play with about 90 seconds remaining that cut the lead to 4 points, 69-65, but USF finished strong and stole the game 72-65.
Lindsey Steffen recorded her tenth double-double of the season and lead all scorers with 26 points and 13 rebounds, out-duelling USF's Gronnering who posted 25 points and 12 rebounds. Francesca McCarthy (Terre Haute, Indiana) scored 10 points and grabbed 7 boards.
The loss drops Holy Cross to a record of (5-15), and their next game is at home this Thursday against Roosevelt University at 5:30 p.m.