(Berrien Springs, Mich.) Entering his third season as head coach of the Holy Cross Saints men's basketball program, head coach Bob Schermerhorn had yet to defeat the Andrews University Cardinals. This would all change on Tuesday night after the Saints put together an incredible run in the second half to defeat the back-to-back United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Champions 67-53.
The Saints found themselves struggling to knock down shots during the first half, especially during the first few possessions of the game. After trailing early in the game, followed by leading scorer Yama Kader (Mission Viejo, Cali.) picking up his second foul, the Saints needed to find a way to generate some scoring. This is when they turned to their inside game.
Led in the half by junior forward Brandon Evans (Grand Rapids, Mich.), who finished the half with 10 points and 5 rebounds, the Saints were able to get points in the paint. In fact, all 10 made field goals in the first half came from inside the paint. With shots beginning to fall, paired with being aggressive on the glass, the saints were able to pull ahead of Andrews and go into the half with a 24-22 lead.
"Considering we were 0/11 from three-point range in the first half, I was pleased we were able to come out of it with a lead," said head coach Bob Schermerhorn. We knew that if we wanted to take control in the second half we were going to have to balance our inside and outside game."
The Saints made 10/29 shots from the field (34.5%) in the first half and held the rebounding edge over Andrews by a 23-15 margin.
As the second half began, the Saints got a quick basket in the paint from Brandon Evans followed by a stop on the defensive end. A few possessions later, Yama Kader caught fire. Despite going scoreless in the first half, Kader proceeded to score 16 points in the second half on 5/9 shooting which included 4 big three-pointers.
With just under six minutes remaining in the game the Saints had built their two-point halftime lead to twelve points leading 50-38.
The lead would not go below double figures down the stretch as the Saints were able to knockdown the majority of their free-throw attempts to keep the game out of reach.
The Saints impressive second half consisted of hitting 13/24 shots from the field (54.2%), 5/11 from three-point range (45.5%), and 12/19 from the charity stripe (66.7%). Meanwhile, Andrews hit only 11/30 shots from the field (36.7%), 6/16 from three-point range (37.5%), and 3/10 from the free-throw line (30.0%). The Saints outscored the Cardinals 43-31 in the half in route to a 67-53 final.
Yama Kader finished with a game high 16 points all of which came in the second half. Brandon Evans and Parker Dominguez (Santa Clarita, Cali.) combined for 24 rebounds (12 each). Mike Vander Ploeg (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and Dane Okuda (Huntington Beach, Cali.) were very productive at the point guard spot combining for 5 assists. Overall, every player who saw action scored at least one point in Tuesday night's victory.
Coach Schermerhorn was very pleased with his team's effort in getting their first win over the Cardinals in his tenure as head coach.
"This was definitely a good win for our team," stated coach Schermerhorn. "I thought that we did a good job getting guys involved, especially in the second half. Everyone brought great energy at both ends of the floor and it really helped us get going in the second half. It's great to finally get a win here. Andrews is a very tough team, especially at their place."
The Saints, 5-4 (3-3 CCAC), will return home for an exhibition matchup with NCAA Division II program Saint Joseph's College on Thursday, November 29th at McKenna Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. (EST).