(Elgin, IL) The Holy Cross Men's Basketball Team was looking to win it's fourth game in a row as they visited the Judson University Eagles on Saturday Night.
There was a lot at stake in tonight's match-up against Judson. Both teams were sitting at 4-4 in the CCAC standings. A win put Holy Cross at 5-4 in the CCAC, and a strong chance of hosting a home game in the conference tournament. A loss put the Saints at 4-5 in the standings, and it meant a longer road ahead of them to solidify a home game in the conference tournament that go to the top four teams in the CCAC standings.
Thirty Six minutes into the contest the Saints held a seven point lead and looked as if they were going to take that third place spot in the standings. Poor rebounding, and free throw shooting down the stretch, however, allowed the Eagles of Judson to creep back into the game, and ultimately beat Holy Cross 74-69. With the win, Judson completed the sweep of Holy Cross as they won an earlier match-up at Holy Cross on December 3rd 82-77.
Early on it was all Holy Cross as they used a 15-6 run midway through the first half to lead the Eagles 28-18 with ten minutes remaining. They pushed the lead to as high as eleven points, but a late 8-1 run by Judson at the end of half closed the gap to three points with the Saints leading 38-35 going into halftime.
"I was really pleased with the way the guys came out in the first half. We had great energy early on which is always great to see on the road. Although, I wasn't happy with the way we ended the half. We let them erase a 10 point lead in just two minutes, and you just can't do that against a quality team like Judson," said Head Coach Bob Schermerhorn.
The Saints responded well coming out of the locker room as they pushed the lead back up to seven points where it remained for much of the second half. Similar to the first half, Holy Cross had trouble closing out the game. They led by seven points with just over six minutes remaining in the game, but a 20-8 run by the Eagles in the final five minutes pushed Judson to the victory over Holy Cross 74-69.
The glaring statistics that led to the loss for Holy Cross appeared in the free throw shooting and rebounding columns. Holy Cross left nine potential points on the free throw line shooting a dismal 6-15 from the line which is good for 40 percent from the line.
Holy Cross struggled all day on the boards and in the paint. They allowed 28 points in the paint, were out rebounded by a margin of 48 to 27, and gave up 12 offensive rebounds which led to Judson scoring 18 second chance points while Holy Cross only scored 5 second chance points.
"We left 9 points on the board at the line, and gave up 12 offensive rebounds. You can't do that on the road and expect to win. I thought we played relatively well for the majority of the game until the last 5 minutes. We just had trouble closing out both halves, and in the CCAC you have to be able to put teams away. Judson is too good to let hang around especially at their place," said Coach Schermerhorn.
Junior Yama Kader (Mission Viejo, CA) led the Saints 23 points. It is his fourth straight game of scoring at least 19 points, and he is averaging just under 22 points in the past four games. Senior Andrew Tullis (Orland, IN) netted 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting from the floor. Junior Michael VanderPloeg (Kalamazoo, MI) had a nice game from his point guard position scoring 9 points and dishing out 7 assists.
Holy Cross is now 10-13 for the season. They fall back to below .500 in the CCAC with a record of 4-5. They sit at fourth place in the standings, and they host Purdue Calumet (3-6 in the CCAC one game behind Holy Cross for fourth place. Holy Cross won the previous game against Purdue Calumet on December 17th 83-77.) on February 1st at 7:30 p.m. at McKenna Arena in the Pfeil Center.