Sports Information Director
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Fresh off extending their recent success to a program-best five-game winning streak, the Holy Cross men's basketball team returned to McKenna Arena on Saturday afternoon for their Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) home opener. A hard fought game from the opening tip, the Saints battled with the Olivet Nazarene Tigers for 40 minutes and inched out a 58-53 victory to extend their winning-streak to six games. With the win, the Saints improve to 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the CCAC.
It was all Olivet throughout the first five minutes of action in Saturday afternoon's CCAC matchup as the Tigers opened up a 12-6 lead following a jumper from Zach Wagner. A three-pointer from Drew Moore (Dayton, Ohio) on the ensuing possession sparked an 11-1 run by the Saints as they took a 17-13 lead at the 13:12 mark of the first half. The Tigers answered the Saints run with an 8-1 run of their own to take a three-point lead with 10 minutes remaining. As the first half wound down, both teams exchanged lead changes and it was the Saints who scored the final basket of the half to take a 30-29 lead to the break.
Holy Cross shot 12-of-26 (46.2%) from the field, 3-of-8 (37.5%) from three and 3-of-4 (75%) from the foul line in the first half. Drew Moore led the way with 11 first half points while Brandon Evans (Grand Rapids, Mich.) contributed six points off the bench.
Aaron Larson got things going in the second half for the Tigers with a three-pointer to give the lead back to Olivet at 32-30. Both teams continued to exchange blows over the first eight minutes with neither team generating a lead greater than two points. At the near midway mark of the second half it was another Aaron Larson three-pointer which broke a tie and gave Olivet a three-point advantage. Much like the first half, the Saints responded with a tying three-pointer from senior Dane Okuda (Lakewood, Calif.).
Back-to-back baskets from the Saints gave them the first two-possession lead of the second half. Parker Dominguez (Santa Clarita, Calif.) was fouled on a made bucket in the paint but failed to convert the and-one free-throw. The bucket from Dominguez, however, extended the Saints lead to 49-45 with 6:45 left in the game.
Drew Moore knocked down his second three-pointer of the game to give the Saints their largest lead of the game at five points with 4:32 remaining in the game, but the Tigers would not go easily. Zach Wagner scored four consecutive points for Olivet as they got within one point at 52-51 with 1:58 remaining in the game. Two free-throws from Zoe Bauer (Culver, Ind.) helped extend the Saints lead to three-points.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Brandon Evans finished off a missed shot from Dominguez with a tip-in to extend the Saints lead back to five. After two free-throws from Alex Thorson made it a one-possession game again, it was Evans who finished things off with a layup in the paint as the Saints were now up five points with just 19 seconds remaining. The Tigers were unable to knock another shot down and the Saints held on for the 58-53 victory.
Brandon Evans led the way for the Saints with 17 points and eight rebounds. Evans went 5-of-7 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Drew Moore contributed 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 2-of-7 from distance.
Aaron Larson led the way for Olivet (2-9, 1-2 CCAC) with a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Holy Cross held the Tigers to just 9-of-27 (33.3%) shooting in the second half.
The Saints have now won a program-best six consecutive games and improve to 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the CCAC. They will return to action next on Saturday, December 14 at McKenna Arena as they're set to take on Purdue Calumet in CCAC action. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 3:00 p.m. EST.