Sports Information Director
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Holy Cross Saints women's basketball team returned to the court for the first time in the 2013-2014 season on Saturday afternoon playing host to the Lancers of Grace (Ind.) College. The Saints held a three point lead with 5:30 left in the game, but a late run by Grace helped guide them to a 68-60 victory over the Saints. Holy Cross drops to 0-1 on the season.
"I was pleased with the effort the team played with today," third year head coach Aimee Niespodziany said. "The team played very tough and I thought we executed well for the first game of the season."
There was a lot of back-and-forth scoring in the first half with neither team able to gain a big lead on one another. Mary Fitzgerald (Livonia, Mich.) kicked things off for the Saints with the first points of the season on a 3-point shot less than two minutes into the game.
The momentum shifted to Grace following the Fitzgerald shot, as the Lancers went on a 14-to-6 run to gain the largest lead of the half at five points.
Two free-throws from Carmen Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind.) gave the Saints a 27-26 lead late in the first half before a layup from Chloe Pridgen gave the Lancers a one-point lead at the half.
Kristin Nitka (Chicago, Ill.) knocked down 3-of-4 shots in the first half to lead the Saints with seven points. Collectively, the Saints made just 10-of-27 (37%) shots from the field.
The Saints were quick to regain the lead in the second half after a jumper from Francesca McCarthy (Terre Haute, Ind.) opened up a 29-28 lead.
An ensuing 7-to-0 run by Grace put the momentum back on their side as they opened up a 35-29 lead with 18:33 to play.
The Saints continued to fight back at the Lancers and retook the lead at 47-44 with 11:35 to play after back-to-back scores from senior Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Ind.).
Holy Cross held a three-point lead with 5:30 to play before the Lancers closed out the game with a 16-to-5 run to defeat the Saints 68-60.
Lindsey Steffen, who scored all of her points in the second half, led the way for the Saints with 10 points and six rebounds.
Both Shelby Nelson (Mishawaka, Ind.) and Shana Anderson (Bourbon, Ind.) scored their first career points in the game; Nelson finished with six points and a game-high 9 rebounds while Anderson finished with four points.
The Saints held Grace to 2-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc but the Lancers hit 28-of-35 shots from the free-throw line, including 22 in the second half.
"Despite the loss I thought we had great energy on the court," continued Niespodziany. "Now that we've got a game under our belt I believe we'll be ready to get things back on track."
The Saints will hit the road for their next two games beginning on Wednesday, October 30 against Lawrence Tech. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. EST.