WORCESTER, Mass. – Holy Cross junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) tallied a game-best 20 points, including six three-pointers, to help lead the Crusaders to an 83-66 triumph over Brown at the Hart Center on Tuesday, Jan. 8. With the win, Holy Cross concludes its non-conference schedule with an 8-7 record overall, while the Bears slip to 5-8 on the season.
Brown began the contest with strong shooting from behind the arc, as it went ahead 12-2 at the 16:25 mark of the first half. The Crusaders countered and went on a 10-3 spurt to cut the deficit to 15-12 (13:54), as Smith hit a pair of threes during the run. Brown was able to push the margin to six points (18-12), as it connected on its sixth trey of the contest at the 13:24 mark.
The Bears maintained the now 26-20 advantage (9:39), before a three-pointer by freshman Lisa Mifsud (Erie, Pa.) and a layup plus a foul shot by junior Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) knotted the score at 26-26 with 8:13 on the clock. With the score still knotted (31-31) at the 5:10 mark, the Crusaders closed the half on an 8-1 run to head into the locker room with the 39-32 lead.
Holy Cross kept up the pressure after the intermission as it exploded on a 9-0 rally over the first 2:34 of the second half, with Malone scoring five points to put HC on top 48-32. Brown ended the scoring drought over the next few minutes, but back-to-back threes by Smith gave the Crusaders the 55-37 lead with 14:34 on the clock.
Brown cut into the deficit with a 7-0 push, to close the gap to 11 points (55-44) at 12:46, but a 10-0 scoring surge by Holy Cross over the next three minutes gave them a comfortable 65-44 lead. Freshman Raquel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored four points for HC during the run.
The Crusaders worked the lead to their biggest margin (23 points) on two occasions over the final nine minutes of the contest, including the 80-57 lead with 4:24 on the clock, as the Bears ended the game on a 9-3 run to result in the 83-66 final score.
In addition to Smith, senior Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) posted 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Malone finished with nine points, a game-best nine assists, and four rebounds, while Scott had 11 points. Sophomore Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) had nine points off the bench for the Crusaders. Brown junior guard Lauren Clarke had 14 points and seven assists to lead the Bears.
Both teams shot well for the game, as Holy Cross connected on 28 of its 61 shots (45.9 percent) and Brown hit 44.8 percent of its shots (26 of 58). Equally, both teams had good performances from behind the arc, as they combined for 53 attempts from downtown. Holy Cross hit 10 of its 25 three-pointers (40.0 percent), while the Bears converted on 35.7 percent of their treys (35.7 percent). The Crusaders hit 77.3 percent of their shots from the charity stripe (17 of 22). Holy Cross held advantages in rebounds (43-26), assists (24-19), points off turnovers (23-9) and fast break points (14-2).
The contest marked the second annual "Get Fit with the Crusaders Day," in which over 1,800 Worcester Public School students attended the game to cheer for Holy Cross and to learn about nutrition and physical activity.
Also, in a brief pre-game ceremony Lepley received her 1000th-point basketball from head coach Bill Gibbons. She reached this milestone on Jan. 6 versus Fordham.
The Crusaders will begin Patriot League action on Saturday, Jan. 12, as they will host Lehigh at 1:00 p.m. at the Hart Center.