(Notre Dame, Ind.) Despite finding themselves trailing by 5 at the break, the Holy Cross Saints men's basketball team used a 47-32 second half advantage to defeat the Crusaders 89-79 for the second time this season.
The Saints opened up the first six minutes of action in the first half shooting the ball extremely well which led to an early 21-11 lead at the 14:05 mark. A 36-21 over the next fourteen minutes gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game.
After hitting their first eight of ten shots to start the game, the Saints finished the half shooting 14-37 (37.8%) from the field.
The Crusaders, with the help of Maurice Jordan, were very successful in the first half of getting to the foul line. Hitting 12-16 from the charity stripe at the half, Jordan himself was 10-12.
With the first twenty minutes of action in the books, the Saints saw their once ten point lead turn into a five point deficit at the half.
Mike Vander Ploeg (Kalamazoo, Mich.) continued his scoring attack from last game with 11 first half points. Vander Ploeg went 3-3 from the field, all of which were from beyond the three-point line.
Foul trouble was the Achilles heel for the Saints in the first half with five players recording two fouls.
As the second half began, a defensive intensity could be seen from the Saints players. While only forcing six turnovers throughout the first twenty minutes, the Saints were able to force the Crusaders into eight turnovers over the course of the first five minutes of the second half.
A layup from Dane Okuda (Huntington Beach, Cali.) followed by a steal and fast break score from Mike Vander Ploeg put the Saints back in front 52-50 at the 16:56 mark. This was their first lead since the 2:41 mark where they had a 42-41 advantage.
The score remained within five points until the 6:46 mark where a Parker Dominguez (Santa Clarita, Cali.) gave the Saints a six point advantage; their largest currently in the second half.
Following a Crusaders turnover, Brandon Evans (Grand Rapids, Mich.) gave the Saints a nine point lead with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Crusaders managed to get within four points, but not until it was too late. With 48 seconds left in the game, two free-throws from Dane Okuda helped keep the Saints lead alive.
Mike Vander Ploeg hit five key free-throws down the stretch will helped clinch an 89-79 Saints victory; their second in a row. Vander Ploeg finished the game with team highs in points (18) and assists (6).
Bench production was key for the Saints in this win as both Zoe Bauer (Culver, Ind.) and Darrell McIntyre (Indianapolis, Ind.) scored in double figures off the bench. Bauer finished with 11 while McIntyre scored a season high 13.
Parker Dominguez once again did wonders on the glass pulling down 10 rebounds to pair with 12 points.
The Saints turned 16 Crusaders turnovers into 16 points in the second half.
"I was very impressed with our defensive intensity in the second half," said head coach Bob Schermerhorn. "Foul trouble hurt us in the first half, but the guys stayed the course and came out with great energy in the second half. It was a tough game for us tonight, but the guys battled through it and go the win."
The Saints, 7-5 (4-4 CCAC), are off to their best start in the history of the program. This is also the most games over .500 a team has ever been.
With holiday break around the corner, the Saints will close out their nonconference schedule on Wednesday, December 12th at McKenna Arena against Lincoln Christian University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.