March 4, 2007

Holy Cross Defeats American 55-53, Advances To PL Finals

March 4, 2007

Box Score 

WORCESTER, Mass.­ - Senior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) drove the lane to score the winning basket with 4.8 seconds left in regulation, giving the Holy Cross men's basketball team a 55-53 victory over American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at the Hart Center. Simmons finished the game with 11 points, three assists and two rebounds. The top seeded Crusaders improve to 24-8 overall and advance to the tournament finals, where they will face Bucknell on Friday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m. The fourth-seeded Eagles end their season at to 16-14.

Junior center Tim Clifford (Walpole, Mass.) scored seven of Holy Cross' first nine points to give the Crusaders a 9-8 lead through the first six minutes of play. The Crusaders had a 14-10 advantage with 12:07 on the clock, before the Eagles went on a 12-0 run to take a 22-14 lead with 7:45 left in the half. Holy Cross would then outscore American by a 7-5 margin the rest of the way as the Eagles brought a 26-21 lead into the locker room.

After American extended its lead to 31-23 after the first two minutes of play of the second half, the Crusaders outscored the Eagles, 17-4, over the next 9:03 to move out to a 40-35 lead. But the Eagles then came back with a 5-0 run to tie the game at 40-40 with 8:31 remaining. The Crusaders responded with a 9-0 spurt to pull out to a 49-40 advantage with 5:08 left, but American then answered back with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 49-47 with 2:49 on the clock.

After a lay-up by Clifford to increase the Crusader lead to 51-47, American's Arvydas Eitutavicius hit a three-pointer to make it a 51-50 game with 1:22 remaining. With 54 seconds on the clock, Clifford made two free throws to give Holy Cross a 53-50 lead. The Eagles then tied the game with only 39 seconds to go with a three-pointer by Andre Ingram. After Simmons' basket, American's Brayden Billbe heaved a shot from his own three-point line that fell short as the game ended.

Clifford led Holy Cross with 19 points, in addition to pulling down eight rebounds. Senior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) also had a strong afternoon with 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.

American was led by Ingram's 20 points and four rebounds.