Holy Cross Downs #1 Seed American, 67-52, In Patriot League Semifinals

Brisje Malone

WASHINGTON, D.C – Led by junior Amy Lepley's (Norfolk, Mass.) career-high of 24 points, the Holy Cross women's basketball never let go of the lead, downing No. 1 seed American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament, 67-52, at Bender Arena. With the final, the Crusaders move on to the 2012 Patriot League Tournament championship game with a record of 18-13 while American ends its season at 23-7. Holy Cross will now travel to No. 3 seed Navy for the rights to a 12th Patriot League championship title.

Holy Cross jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes of the front half, picking up two jumpers from freshman Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa). The Crusaders' offense continued to dominate, outscoring the Eagles 12-6 over the next five minutes, earning a 22-10 lead at 12:26. American scored the only two points over the next five minutes of action as the Crusaders went quiet from field goal range but stayed ahead 22-12. Lepley broke the Crusaders' scoring drought at 5:52, scoring a lay up to keep the team ahead 24-12. Back-to-back three-pointers by freshman Ashley Cooper (Colts Neck, N.J.) and Lepley boosted the Crusaders back out to an 18-point lead, 30-12 at the three minute mark. Parker scored the team's final basket with just over one minute to play, completing a 10-3 run for the Crusaders as the team headed into the halftime break up 32-15. Holy Cross shot 50 percent (14 of 28) over the first 20 minutes of action as Lepley led all scorers with 10 points.

Cooper and Lepley connected again on consecutive three-point shots to rally the Holy Cross offense as the squad pulled out to a 44-22 lead at 14:02. The Crusaders went ahead by 24 points halfway through the second, 51-27, as Lepley added back to back jump shots. American put together a short lived run to get within 19 points but Holy Cross continued to find an answer as Lepley added five points to give the team back a 65-41 lead at 4:29. Tough defense allowed Holy Cross to maintain its lead the rest of the way as the offense added two more points to its total to finish ahead by the final 67-52 score.

In the game, Holy Cross shot 50 percent from the floor (25 of 50) while American shot 29 percent (18 of 62). The Crusaders won the rebounding battle, 36-29 as sophomore Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) posted a career and team-best nine rebounds. The Crusaders also collected 22 assists on the night, led by sophomore Alex Smith's (Delran, N.J.) seven dishes. American was led by freshman Jen Dumiak who scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds.

Holy Cross moves on to the championship round of the 2012 Patriot League Tournament, playing No. 3 seed and reigning champion Navy on Saturday, March 10. The game will be played at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. beginning at 6:00 p.m.