(Notre Dame, Ind.) The Holy Cross Saints men's basketball team took to the court Thursday night with their first of two exhibition games against NCAA Division II member Saint Joseph's College. Despite the result having no impact on the Saints win/loss record, the Saints battled with the Pumas for all 40 minutes.
The Saints found themselves trailing early in the first half after a 9-2 run by the Pumas to start the game. A thunderous dunk by junior forward Brandon Evans (Grand Rapids, Mich.) got the Saints right back in the game cutting the deficit to only three.
A three-point shot from senior Yama Kader (Mission Viejo, Cali.) tied the game at 15 with 12:26 remaining in the first half. The Pumas would be quick to answer as Ryan Rebholz knocked down a three of his own bringing their lead back up to three points. Another missed shot from the Saints had the Pumas off and running; they would go on to make their next 7 shots from the field bringing their first half lead to 34-23.
Trailing by as many as 13 with 2:07 to play in the half, Parker Dominguez (Santa Clarita, Cali.) scooped up a last second layup to cut the lead to 11 at the break.
The Pumas shot an impressive 65.5% (19-29) from the field in the first half compared to the Saints 37.8% (14-37).
Brandon Evans and Dane Okuda (Huntington Beach, Cali.) got the Saints going early in the second half as they cut the Pumas lead to 8 after a three-pointer from Okuda.
Saint Joseph's once again extended their lead to 13 until the Saints answered with a 7-0 run which ended with an and-one play by Clayton Webb (Dallas, Tex.) cut the lead to six. This would be the closest the Saints would hold on for the remainder of the game as the Pumas answered the Saints run with a 12-0 run of their own extending their lead to 71-53 with 9:21 remaining in the game.
The Saints fell to the Pumas 95-77, but head coach Bob Schermerhorn was impressed with the effort the guys put on display.
"I was very pleased with how the guys kept battling all game," said coach Schermerhorn. "Saint Joe was able to get their lead to double-figures a number of different times, but we were able to respond and cut it to six with around 12 minutes left. They also shot the ball a lot better than we did at 58% to 38.2%. Overall, I think we can learn a lot from this game."
Brandon Evans produced an impressive night for the Saints scoring 25 points on 11-15 shooting while pulling down 9 rebounds. Clayton Webb produced 13 points off the bench while also picking up 2 steals, while Parker Dominguez finished with a game high 11 rebounds.
"I thought our big men did an excellent job," continued coach Schermerhorn. "We need to keep finding a way to get those guys involved. Brandon was exceptional out there and I thought Clayton really showed us something as well."
The Saints, 5-4 (3-3 CCAC), will return to Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action at home on Saturday, December 1st against Calumet College of St. Joseph. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m. following the women's game at 1:00 p.m.