Nov. 18, 2005
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Junior guard Keith Simmons (Kingston, N.Y.) posted the second double-double of his collegiate career with 21 points and 10 rebounds, to lead the Holy Cross men's basketball team (1-0) to a 85-73 victory over High Point (0-1) in its season opener at the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic. Simmons was one of three Crusaders to score 20 or more points on the night, as senior guard Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village, N.Y.) finished with 22 points, and junior guard Torey Thomas (White Plains, N.Y.) added a career-high 20 points. It marked the first time Holy Cross had three players reach the 20-point mark since Feb. 9, 1994, against Lehigh (Rob Feaster 26, Gordon Hamilton 24 and John Young 21).
The Crusaders won their season opener for the third straight year, and improved to 5-2 in season-opening games under head coach Ralph Willard. Holy Cross now stands 62-25 all-time in season openers.
The first 11 minutes of action featured five ties and six lead changes, before Holy Cross took the lead for good, 21-20 at the 9:05 mark on a three-point field goal by Hamilton. The shot by Hamilton started a 27-13 Crusader run to close out the half, as Holy Cross took a 45-33 advantage into the locker room. Simmons scored 16 of the Crusaders' 27 points during the run, and led all scorers at halftime with 18 points.
Holy Cross expanded its lead to 19 points (59-40) at the 14:34 mark of the second half, before High Point began to claw its way back into the game. The Panthers used a 17-4 run to make the scored 65-61 with only 7:12 left to play, before the Crusaders once again took control of the game. Freshman forward Alex Vander Baan (Uxbridge, Mass.) hit a base-line jumper to end a Holy Cross scoring drought of 3:18, and the Crusaders quickly built their lead back up to 11 points. High Point would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Holy Cross made seven of 10 free throws over the final three minutes to secure the win.
The Crusaders shot 52.7 percent from the field on the night (29 of 55), led by an eight of 11 shooting performance by Hamilton. Holy Cross also outrebounded High Point 45-29 on the evening.
The Crusaders return to action tomorrow, Nov. 19, when they will face William & Mary in the championship game of the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic at 8:00 p.m. Holy Cross will have a chance to win a regular season tournament for the first time since the 1982-1982 season, when it captured the title at the Worcester County Classic.