(Milwaukee, WI) The Holy Cross Women's Basketball Team took on the first seeded Wolves of Cardinal Stritch tonight in the CCAC Tournament Semi-Finals.
It was going to be a daunting task for the fifth seeded Saints to come on the road and win against the top seeded Wolves of Cardinal Stritch Thursday night. The Saints battled hard, and at times seemed as if they were going to have the muster to upset the Wolves. In the end, the Saints played their hearts out, but came up short losing to Cardinal Stritch 80-56 in the CCAC Tournament Semifinal tonight.
The Saints played very well defensively early on in the first half. They had trouble finding a rhythm offensively as the Saints had a lot of unforced errors on the offensive end of the court. Stritch opened up as much as a sixteen point lead midway through the first half with the score 20-4.
It looked as if the Saints were going to be down as much as twenty points heading into the locker room, but an 8-0 run that ended with a Kristin Nitka (Chicago, IL) three pointer at the buzzer cut the lead to twelve points with the score 37-25 heading in the locker room.
"We came out a little flat early on in the first half offensively. I felt we were playing well defensively, but we needed to do a better job rebounding the ball defensively, and taking care of the ball if we were going to get back into the game," said Head Coach Aimee Litka.
Holy Cross was led by junior Lauren Malinowski (Dearborn Heights, MI) in the first half with 8 points. Sophomores Nitka and Mary Fitzgerald (Livonia, MI) had a nice half off the bench for the Saints. Nitka had to big three pointers for 6 points, and Fitzgerald did a little bit of everything for the Saints, and she netted 5 points in the first half.
The Saints came out in the second half ready to play cutting the lead to eight points with seventeen minutes remaining in the game. That was the closest the Saints got the rest of the game as the fire power of Cardinal Stritch proved to be too much for the visiting Saints. In Holy Cross's first ever CCAC Semifinal Game they lost to the top seeded Cardinal Stritch 80-53.
"Cardinal Stritch is just a great team. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming into tonight, but they just had an answer for every run we tried to make to get back into the game. I am really proud of the girls as they worked so hard all season. This was a great season for us even though the record doens't indicate it. We return everyone from this year, and we have built a solid foundation, and chemistry to build on for next year," said Coach Litka.
Freshman Maggie Gondeck (Michigan City, IN) had her best game in a Saints jersey as she recorded 13 points in the game, and 9 points in the second half. Malinowski netted 11 points and 6 assists from her point guard position, and Fitzgerald ended the game with 10 points.
The Saints season is now over, but they finished with the best season in the school's history. The Saint finish the season 10-21 and 4-8 in the CCAC. They also are the first Holy Cross Women's Basketball Team to win a game in the CCAC Tournament. They set records in wins (10) and conference wins (4) in a season. The future is certainly looking bright for Coach Litka and the team, and everyone is excited for next season!