(Joliet, Ill.) The Holy Cross women's basketball team hit the road on Saturday night for the final time during the 2012-2013 regular season to take on the Fighting Saints of the University of St. Francis. A strong first half shooting the ball had the Saints right in the game throughout the first twenty minutes. St. Francis's ability to get to the free-throw line, paired with 22 Holy Cross turnovers, put the Fighting Saints in control during the second half en route to a 78-57 win over Holy Cross. The Saints fell to 9-19 overall and 5-15 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).
A strong start offensively had Holy Cross leading by as many five points with 10:28 left to play in the first half. Back-and-forth chances continued for the majority of the half as the Saints found themselves holding a two point lead following a three-pointer from freshman Kari Barnes (Fort Wayne, Ind.) with 3:05 left to play. St. Francis, however, turned in a 7-1 run over the last three minutes to take a 36-32 lead at the break.
The Saints shot the ball particularly well from the floor over the first twenty minutes knocking down 12-of-25 (48%) from the floor and 4-of-6 (66.7%) from beyond the arc. Despite holding St. Francis to just 38.5% shooting, the Fighting Saints reached the foul line 19 times and knocked down 15 of those attempts.
A quick three-pointer by Debra Jenkins put the Saints behind seven points early before baskets from Francesca McCarthy (Terre Haute, Ind.) and Megan Eve (Scottsburg, Ind.) cut the lead to just three.
St. Francis proceeded to go on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to nine points. Once again, however, the Saints battled back with baskets from McCarthy and Maggie Gondeck (Michigan City, Ind.) to cut it to five with 15:46 still to play.
An ensuing 12-2 run by St. Francis over the next three minutes put the pressure on Holy Cross to respond quickly. Turnovers and missed shots by the Saints would make this difficult.
In the second half the Saints missed all 14 three-point shots they attempted. Conversely, St. Francis was once again dominant in not only getting to the foul line, but knocking down their attempts at a successful clip.
Holy Cross was unable to cut the Fighting Saints deficit to lower than 11 points down the stretch, eventually falling by a score of 75-58. The loss for the Saints is their fourth consecutive.
Francesca McCarthy led the way scoring the ball for Holy Cross finishing with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Lindsey Steffen fell one point shy of her first career triple-double as she finished with 9 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists. The 13 assists for Steffen was a career best.
Freshman Carmen Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind.) also finished with a career best 7 rebounds off the bench.
St. Francis was led by Katie Gonnering who finished with a monster 36 point and 10 rebound double-double. Gonnering also knocked down 14-of-16 shots from the foul line.
The ability to get to the foul line played a major factor in the outcome of this game as St. Francis nearly tripled the attempts as the Saints (43-15).
St. Francis also held significant advantages in points off turnovers (22-11) and second chance points (19-8).
The Saints will return home for their final two regular season matchups beginning next Wednesday, February 13th against Trinity International University. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST.