(Notre Dame, Ind.) The Holy Cross Saints women's basketball team kicked off their home opener on Friday night against the Goshen College Maple Leafs.
Coming off their season opener loss at Grace, the Saints looked to bounce back at home.
Both teams came out hitting shots early and often during the first half. The Saints knocked down 19-35 field goals, including 4-12 from 3-point range, and closed out the half with a 46-43 lead.
The Maple Leafs had a great shooting half from downtown as they hit 7-13 for 53.8% at the half.
Entering the game, Saints forward Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.) needed 18 points to join the 1,000 point club. At the half, Steffen led all scorers with 16, just 2 shy of the milestone.
The second half proved to be just as intense as the first half as both teams continued to shoot the ball very well.
Just one minute into the 2nd half was when Saints forward Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.) made her next shot to get her to 1,000 career points. Gameplay was stopped, and Steffen received a standing ovation from all 200 people in attendance at McKenna Arena.
As the game continued, both teams continued to make big plays. With just over 6 minutes remaining in the game the Saints found themselves trailing by two.
"At that point the girls knew that they had to keep their composure and just play their game," said Saints head coach Aimee Niespodziany.
The Saints did just that. They forced turnovers by the Maple Leafs and went on a 9-1 run to give them a 75-69 lead with 3:35 left in the game.
Goshen, however, fought back once again. After forcing a late Saints turnover, Goshen's Liz Tecca hit a 3-point shot with just 13 seconds remaining to give the Maple Leafs an 82-81 lead.
The Saints got the ball back in bounds and got a timeout with 9 seconds left to come up with one more big play. Lauren Malinowski (Dearborn Heights, Mich.) got the ball out of the timeout and attacked to the rim where her layup dropped to give the Saints an 83-82 lead with 3 seconds left. A half-court shot from Goshen was left short and the Saints celebrated their first win of the 2012-13 season.
"Obviously today was a huge day for Lindsey," continued coach Niespodziany. "To have the game she had (22 points, 11 rebounds), and achieve 1,000 career points is truly special. She works so hard every day to get better and it's constantly seen on the court."
Coach Niespodziany was very encouraged with how the girls faired down the stretch:
"Last year I really think we would have lost this game," continued coach. "Our experience definitely helped, and we had girls pick up each other when it counted."
"Big time players make big time plays," coach Aimee stated about Lauren Malinowski's game winner. "She's the leader of this team and played like it tonight. She came through when we needed her all night long."
Malinowski finished with 12 points on 5-12 shooting and a game high 7 steals.
Kristin Nitka (Chicago, Ill.) entered the starting line-up for the first time this year and provided a big spark for the Saints finishing with 14 points.
"Kristin was hot from the start and it really helped get our offense going," said coach Niespodziany.
"Overall, there are definitely some things we need to work on, such as limiting turnovers, but wins are never easy to come by in this league as was seen tonight. You have to give it your all for 40 minutes, and I felt we did that tonight."
The Saints will continue their season on Monday, November 5th with a game against NCAA Division 1 program Valparaiso University on Monday evening. Tip-off is set for 8:05pm EST.