WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Two career-best performances by senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) and Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) could not stop a late second-half rally and an overtime performance that sank the Crusaders, 87-80, in the Hawk Holiday Classic consolation game held at the Multipurpose Athletic Center. The Crusaders round out the month of December with a 3-10 record, falling in seven straight games, while Howard collects a record of 4-7. O'Dell finished with a team and career-high 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting while Ward followed with 15 points on six-for-seven shooting.
The Crusaders made three of their first three-point field goal attempts taking an early one-point advantage, 9-8, at the 17:02 mark of the first half. Howard then put together a 5-0 run to take a 13-9 lead at 14:30. Holy Cross came back to knot the score at 15-15 at 10:49 after freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) hit her first basket of the game. Five consecutive points by O'Dell earned the Crusaders a four-point advantage with eight minutes to go. O'Dell then tallied 10 of the team's final 17 points, including two more three-point shots, to boost the team to a 40-30 halftime advantage. Ward tallied the additional seven points on a perfect three-for-three field goal performance. Holy Cross shot 50 percent from the field to round out the half while Howard shot 42.9 percent.
Holy Cross continued to pull ahead, earning its largest lead of 13 points behind a three-point shot by junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) three minutes into the second half. Howard was able to outscore the Crusaders 11-7 over the next five minutes of play, bringing the score to 56-47 at 11:42. Senior Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) notched the team's next six points to give her team back to a double-digit advantage at the midway point of the half. The Crusaders hit a scoring drought as Howard tallied 11 unanswered points to get within seven points, 65-58 at 6:05. The team maintained a two possession lead until a three-point shot by Howard freshman Tamoria Holmes made it 70-67 with a little under one minute to go on the game clock. The Lady Bison got the ball back with 26 seconds left and knocked down a jump shot to pull within one point. Fremeau hit a follow up jump shot but Bison junior Zykia Brown answered with a three-point shot to tie the game and send it into overtime. Holy Cross shot 46.2 percent in the second half while Howard shot 55.2 percent.
O'Dell hit her 11th field goal of the game to notch her career-high 28 points in the overtime, but it was Howard who was able to outscore the Crusaders 15-8 on five-for-seven shooting to earn the final 87-80 victory.
In all, Holy Cross had four players notch double-digit performances behind O'Dell and Ward's combined 43 points. Fremeau and McFadden tacked on 12 points each to follow. McFadden tied her career-high with nine rebounds to lead the team in that category. Howard was led by freshman Saadia Doyle who marked a career-high 31 points on 12-for-15 shooting.
Holy Cross will start the New Year with a bang, hosting three consecutive home games beginning on Saturday, Jan. 2. The Crusaders will first play Dartmouth at 1:00 p.m. that day at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.