(Notre Dame, Ind.) Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.) and Carmen Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind.) recorded double-doubles Wednesday night to help propel the Saints to an 84-78 win, and season sweep, over the Trojans of Trinity International University. The win for Holy Cross makes it two consecutive years under head coach Aimee Niespodziany that the program has recorded a program best 10 wins.
"This was a great win for our team," said Niespodziany. "After suffering a four-game losing streak it can be easy to be frustrated on the court. Our girls came out fast and really set the tempo for us to control the game."
A quick 8-0 run put the Saints in business early offensively as they were able to knock down shots and put the pressure on Trinity International to match their effective offense. Five minutes into the game the Saints gained their first double-digit lead.
Diamond Richardson and Christina Swangim of Trinity International, however, kept the Trojans in the game despite the Saints ten point lead and helped spark a comeback that had the game tied at 28 apiece with 6:26 still to play.
The Saints responded with back-to-back baskets by freshman Carmen Lowe to get their lead back out to four points before a 7-0 run by the Trojans tied the game at 37-37 at the half following a three-point play by Brittany Simon.
Holy Cross enjoyed a solid 50% (15-of-30) field goal percentage at the break, however, missed opportunities at the free-throw line paired with turning the ball over 12 times, had this game all knotted up.
As the second half was underway, the Saints found themselves trailing the Trojans for the first time all game after Asja Triplett scored the first points of the half. Despite tying the game rather quickly, a three-point shot from Diamond Richardson put the Saints behind 44-41 and put the momentum in the hands of the Trojans.
Holy Cross was able to force a turnover in the ensuing possession and put pressure on the shooters of Trinity International to rally off five straight points to once again take over the lead in the game.
Both teams seemed to be trading back points during the first six minutes of the second half before the Saints used a 6-0 run to build up a five point lead and make it a two possession game.
Trinity International, however, continued to hang around in the contest and once again retook the lead at the 7:22 mark. This moment sparked the Saints and they were able to keep going blow for blow with the Trojans and score points in their next four possessions.
Carmen Lowe really sparked the Saints off the bench with her ability to score inside and grab offensive rebounds which led to regaining a 75-72 lead with just over five minutes left to play.
Clinging to a four point lead with 2:27 left to play, the Saints were able to hold the Trojans to just one field goal down the stretch, which came with 14 seconds remaining and made it a five point game. Kari Barnes (Fort Wayne, Ind.) knocked down 1-of-2 free-throws down the stretch to help Holy Cross clinch a season sweep over the Trojans with an 84-78 victory.
"It was great to see our offense be so effective out there," said Niespodziany. "I thought we made the most of our possessions by making the extra pass to get good looks. We struggled from the free-throw line, however, we found a way to hold on and get this win and that's what matters most right now."
The Saints shot 50% (31-of-62) from the floor but only managed to make 19-of-33 attempts from the foul line.
Trinity International shot 34.2% (25-of-73) for the game, but took advantage of miscues by the Saints as they turned 21 turnovers into 20 points.
Lindsey Steffen paved the way for Holy Cross recording her 9th double-double of the season with a team-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Carmen Lowe produced her first career double-double in 14 minutes off the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Bench production was key in this matchup as the Saints bench outscored the Trojans 42-28.
Holy Cross will return home for the final time in the regular season on Saturday, February 16th at 1:00 p.m. EST as they host Saint Xavier University. Prior to the start of the game, seniors Lauren Malinowski (Dearborn Heights, Mich.), Jacques Donaldson (South Bend, Ind.), Angela Byrd (Harvey, Ill.) and manager Katherine Ziola will be honored for their accomplishments during their tenure with the women's basketball team. We hope to see you all there!