WORCESTER, Mass. – Freshman guard Justin Burrell (Dumfries, Va.) recorded 15 points and three assists, to lead the Holy Cross men's basketball team to a 54-52 victory over Bucknell at the Hart Center. Following the contest, Burrell received the Martin J. O'Malley Award as the Most Valuable Player of the Crusaders' Winter Homecoming game. Holy Cross improves to 13-13 overall and 7-5 in the Patriot League with the win, while Bucknell falls to 20-8 on the season and 10-2 in the conference.
Holy Cross held the Bison to 42.6 percent shooting on the day (23 of 54), including just 20.8 percent in the first half (five of 24). The Crusaders also posted a 34-32 rebounding advantage, and committed only 10 turnovers in the game.
After Bucknell's Mike Muscala scored the first basket of the afternoon, Holy Cross went on a 17-0 run over the next eight minutes to take a commanding 17-2 lead. Burrell scored six of the Crusaders' points during that spurt with a pair of three-point field goals. Holy Cross would lead by at least 13 points for the remainder of the first half, before building its lead up to 18 points (28-10) heading into the locker room.
The Crusaders were still up by 17 (33-16) early in the second half, when the Bison used a 9-0 run to get back into the game. But Holy Cross responded with a 7-0 spurt of its own to bring the lead back to 15 points (40-25), and the advantage would stay in double figures until less than five minutes remained. A late 9-2 spurt by Bucknell then cut the margin down to four points (48-44) with 1:31 to go, but the Crusaders were still able to maintain a two-possession lead until a three-pointer by Cameron Ayers with less than three seconds to go made the score 54-52. Holy Cross would then miss two free throw attempts after a foul, but a desperation heave at the buzzer by Bryson Johnson was well off the mark and the Crusaders held on for the win.
Senior guard Mike Cavataio (Forest Hills, N.Y.) finished the game with nine points and four rebounds, while sophomore forward Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) added seven points and seven boards. The Bison were led by Muscala with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Holy Cross returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 25, when it plays host to Army at 7:00 p.m.