WORCESTER, Mass. – Three Crusaders hit their season high point totals, including 15 points from junior Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) and 14 points from sophomore Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) as the Holy Cross women's basketball team defeated UMass, 76-64 at the Hart Center, breaking a four-game slide against the Minutewomen. With the final, the Crusaders collect a record of 2-3 on the season while the Minutewomen move to 1-3. Senior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) also recorded her first career double-double, doubling her career-high with 12 rebounds and also scoring 14 points.
The game opened with intensity as both teams battled aggressively to put points on the board. Smith broke the back and forth battle first, sinking a three at 17:20. The first five minutes of action left Holy Cross trailing 5-9 as the fast-pace increased inaccuracy and forced turnovers. Smith led the Crusaders, making two three-pointers in 30 seconds of shooting to combat the Minutewomen's frequent assaults on the basket. At 7:44, the two teams were evenly matched at 20-20. After the first 12 minutes of play, Smith had put 10 points on the scoreboard, making up half of the Crusaders 20 points. The tight score forced the players to shoot more aggressively and at 4:58 sophomore Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.) put up two more points, pushing the Crusaders up 26-22. A few seconds later, Lepley made a steal to force yet another turnover in the game as the Crusaders finished the first half up 36-31. In the first half, the Crusaders shot 35.3 percent, hitting 12 of its 34 shot attempts, while UMass shot 48.3 percent, making 14 of its 29 field goal attempts. Smith led all scorers with 10 points in the first half out of her 14 shot attempts.
The second half of play opened with as much intensity as the first and the Crusaders continued to force the score up, moving to 50-42 in the first five minutes. At 12:50, and with five seconds left in their possession, the Crusaders halt play with a time-out and a score of 50-46 and follow with a jumper by Ward, forcing the score to 52-46. Lepley responded with another shot, to move up eight points on the Minutewomen and hitting her season high of 15. The Crusaders continued to increase the score and with less than 10 minutes left in the game, sophomore Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) made her season-high of 10 points. Holy Cross continued to keep their lead through the rest of the game, finishing up 76-64.
In the game, Holy Cross shot 41.9 percent from the floor (26 of 62) while Massachusetts shot 41.3 percent (26 of 63). The Crusaders won the rebounding battle, 44-31 as Ward led with her 12 boards. Holy Cross also sank 21 of its 22 free throw attempts as Ganser went a perfect 8 of 8 from the line. The Minutewomen were led by freshman Aisha Rodney with 15 points.
Holy Cross will break for the Thanksgiving holiday and returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 27 at Harvard. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. at the Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, Mass.