(Notre Dame, IN) The Holy Cross Men's Basketball came into Saturday's game against the Panthers of Purdue North Central winning four out of their last five games. The Saints continued their red hot play as of late beating the Panthers 84-74 in CCAC action Saturday evening for their second straight conference win of the week.
There is a battle going on in the CCAC standings for the top four spots. Holy Cross came into the contest at 5-5, and a win against the Panthers would help them in securing one of the top four spots and a home game in the opening round of the CCAC tournament. The Saints were up to the challenge of maintaining there place in the standings as they beat Purdue North Central 84-74 Saturday night.
Early on, the game looked as if it was going to be battle to the end. The Panthers came out ready to play by opening up an early 10-6 four minutes into the contest. The Saints, however, dug deeper after Head Coach Robert Schermerhorn took a timeout after the Panthers took that four point lead early on in the first half.
Coach Schermerhorn must have said all the right things at the timeout, because the Saints went on a 20-2 run over the next five minutes to take a fourteen point lead halfway through the first half. The Saints pushed the lead to as many as nineteen points, but the Panthers still had some fight left in them at the end of the first half. Purdue North Central used a 17-1 run of their own to cut the lead to three points entering halftime with the score 41-38 in favor of Holy Cross.
"I told the boys that the rest of these conference games were going to be dogfights. No one was going to lay down that easy. I was happy with how we responded midway through the second half, but I didn't like the way we ended it. We did that all that work to build that lead, but then relaxed a bit to let them back in the game. I told them that we needed to play a full twenty minutes in the second half if we were going to come out on top today," said Head Coach Bob Schermerhorn.
The Saints shot the ball very well in the first half going 17-33 from the floor, and shot a perfect 3-3 from behind the three point line. Junior Yama Kader (Mission Viejo, California) went a perfect 2-2 from the three point line leadthe Saints with 13 first half points. Senior Taylor Williams (South Bend, IN) netted 12 first half points as well.
Purdue North Central came out playing well in the second half cutting the lead to one point with fifteen minutes remaining in the game. It looked as if the game was going to come down to the final buzzer, but Holy Cross went on an 11-0 run in just over two minutes to lead the visiting Panthers 65-50 with just over nine minutes remaining in the game.
That run proved to be the final blow for the Panthers as they never cut the lead to below nine points for the remainder of the game. In the end, the Saints resolve prevailed as they beat the visiting Panthers of Purdue North Central 84-74 Saturday night.
"I was really proud of the way we closed that game in the final ten minutes. We are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and it is showing. I think earlier in the year we would of let a team like that back in it at the end of the game, but right now our boys are really understanding how to win games. We are playing really well right now, and we just need to keep continuing that going into the final weeks of the regular season," said Coach Schermerhorn.
Kader led five scorers in double figures with 22 points on the night. Williams finished with 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Senior J.T. Breveard (South Bend, IN) chipped in 12 points going 3-4 from the floor and 1-1 from behind the arc. Junior Michael VanderPloeg (Kalamazoo, MI) and freshman Darrell McIntyre (Indianapolis, IN) netted 11 points in the win as well. VanderPloeg also led the Saints with 6 assists on the night.
The Saints are now 12-13 on the season, and with that win go above .500 on the year in the CCAC with a 6-5 record. They are tied for third place behind Judson, and just one game behind Calumet St. Joseph for second place (Holy Cross plays at Calumet St. Joseph on February 15th.). The Saints host Olivet Nazarene a Division I CCAC opponent on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.