WORCESTER, Mass. – The freshman class had their day as Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) and Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) led the Holy Cross women's basketball team on both sides of the court to one of its largest victories in over three years, topping Lafayette 83-46 at the Hart Center. With the final tally, the Crusaders move to a record of 8-15 (4-4 PL) on the season, while the Leopards go to a record of 9-14 (2-6 PL). Smith led all scorers with 20 points and took home the Winter Homecoming Game MVP award, while Ganser tabbed a career-best 11 rebounds to lead the team defensively.
After almost three minutes of scoreless play, Lafayette outscored Holy Cross 9-2, taking the lead early with five minutes gone in the first half. Senior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) broke the Crusaders' scoring drought with her first basket of the game at 14:56, but the Leopards remained ahead, 11-4. Holy Cross followed with a 5-0 run, pulling within two points, 11-9, at 11:56. Sophomore Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) then tied the game, 11-11, right out of the second media time out, knocking down a long jumper. Freshman Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.) gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game, 14-13, after hitting two free throws at 9:28. Holy Cross continued on a 8-0 run, taking a 22-15 lead after sophomore Kaitlin Cole (Springfield, Pa.) hit her second lay-up in the game at 6:38 and forcing the Leopards to take a timeout. The Crusaders went up by nine points, 26-17, after junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) answered a Lafayette lay-up with a three-pointer. Ganser gave Holy Cross its first double-digit advantage, 29-18, with a lay-up, dished out by fellow freshman Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) with just under five minutes to go in the front half. Holy Cross kept up the offensive pressure the rest of the half, outscoring Lafayette 14-8 to finish ahead 43-26 at the halftime break. The Crusaders sank 50 percent of its shots in the first stanza, making 17 of its 34 shot attempts. Lafayette went 36.7 percent from the field (11 of 30).
The Crusaders' hot shooting continued in the opening minutes of the second half, as Smith knocked down her second three-point shot of the game, giving Holy Cross a 50-26 advantage. At 16:56, Holy Cross went up by 30 points, 56-26, as Lafayette could not make one shot. Intense defense allowed the Crusaders to keep the Leopards at bay, moving their scoring streak to 23 unanswered points and remaining ahead 59-26 with 14:32 on the clock. Four straight turnovers allowed Lafayette to put together an 8-0 run, tallying the score at 59-34 two minutes later. Both teams struggled to find the basket over the next three minutes, as Holy Cross stayed up, 63-38. The teams traded baskets through the five minute mark, with Holy Cross staying strong and not letting Lafayette back in the game as the score read 69-40. Smith then hit two consecutive three-point shots at 4:12 to give the Crusader back a 34-point edge, 75-41. The Crusaders cruised through the rest of the way, winning by the final score of 83-46.
Adding to Smith's team-high of 20 points was Fremeau with 12 points and Lepley with 11 points. In the game, the Crusaders shot a season-best 52.4 percent (31-for-59) while the Leopards shot 28.8 percent (17-for-59). Holy Cross also finished with a 50-30 rebounding edge, led by Ganser's 11 boards and also tied a season-high with 26 assists as senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) led the squad with a career-best seven dishes. Lafayette was led by senior forward LaKeisha Wright with 13 points.
Holy Cross hits the road for a three-game stretch, starting with a trip to play Army on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Crusaders visit the Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y. for a 7:00 p.m. match-up with the Black Knights.