Tag Archives: Holy Cross

Patriot League Tournament Recap: Quarterfinals

For a few minutes Thursday evening, it looked as if the Patriot League quarterfinals might have little drama. All four home teams led by multiple possessions at halftime, and three extended their advantages to double digits early in the second half.

But this year’s Patriot League has found excitement at every turn, and its postseason is no exception. One game went to overtime, another was decided in the final minute, and the only true blowout came between teams with identical records in the 4-5 game. A recap:

#1 Bucknell 90, #8 Holy Cross 83 (OT): Malcolm Miller wouldn’t end his career quietly. After a lethargic first half, the Crusaders trailed by as many as 16 points in the second before their star senior turned it on. Miller had four traditional three-point plays in a four-minute stretch, making seven straight shots to lead the visitors back in the game. After blocking two shots on one possession, Miller made two free throws to give Holy Cross the lead at the two-minute mark.

The Crusaders led by three with 30 seconds to play, but as he’d done all night, first-team all-conference guard Chris Hass answered. Eric Green, one of the league’s best defenders, bumped Hass from behind, turning Hass’ short floater into a game-tying three-point play. The Bison pulled away in overtime to avoid becoming the first 1-seed to bow out before the finals in Patriot League Tournament history.

Hass matched a career high with 32 points, while Miller set his own with 34 in his career finale. In contrast to his 30-performance at Boston U. last week, Miller got most of Thursday’s points inside. Nine of his 11 field goals came in the paint, and even with an inefficient overtime period, he needed only 24 shooting possessions to get his 34 points:

Malcolm_Miller_Holy-Cross_shot_chart_Patriot_League_Tournament

#2 Colgate 72, #7 Navy 62: Aided by garbage-time free throws, the Raiders scored 1.26 points per possession after the break to advance to the semifinals. Matt McMullen had a double-double in the second half alone, totaling 18 points and 15 rebounds, as Colgate advanced to its first semifinals since 2009.

Rookie Bryce Dulin scored a career-high 16 points at an opportune time, all in the second half, but the Midshipmen never pulled closer than six points down the stretch. After blocking a tournament record eight shots against Army, Will Kelly didn’t swat a single ball on Thursday. Limited by foul trouble, Kelly played only 23 minutes, and Navy was outscored by 12 points with him on the bench.

#6 American 68, #3 Lehigh 62: The Mountain Hawks will have a long offseason to stew on their first-round exit: As a home favorite, they lost by two possessions while shooting 7-16 from the free-throw line. Lehigh was actually one of the nation’s better foul shooting teams this year, ranking in the top 50 at 73%. Tim Kempton played like the league’s Player of the Year, scoring 20 points on 9-9 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds, but his teammates went 3-14 from three-point range.

Like many coaches, American’s Mike Brennan has shortened his rotation down the stretch; unlike many coaches, Brennan’s rotation was already limited to seven players, and is now down to six. Jesse Reed and Pee Wee Gardner each played the full 40 minutes, enough time for the former to score 24 points and the latter to notch 10 assists (against one turnovers). Marko Vasic posted a double-double despite spending 82 whole seconds on the bench.

#4 Lafayette 89, #5 Boston U. 64: After Holy Cross torched the Terriers with 13 three-pointers in their regular-season finale, Boston U. coach Joe Jones was frustrated with his team’s defensive inconsistency. “When you look at our defensive field goal percentage in our nine [conference] wins, we’ve held teams to 37%. In nine losses, it’s 48%,” he said. “We’ve been really up and down all year, just in our ability to be focused and connected.”

Thursday was another down night for the Terriers, as Lafayette posted a 77% effective field goal percentage, including a Patriot League Tournament-record 16 threes, en route to a blowout victory. No team expects to allow 55% shooting beyond the arc, but surrendering 29 attempts (many of which were open) is inexcusable against a team ranked in the top 10 nationally in three-point accuracy. Point guard Nick Lindner (5-8 from three) led the way with 23 points as one of five Leopards in double figures.

Lafayette avenged a similarly lopsided loss at Boston U. in last year’s quarterfinals. More remarkably, the Leopards scored their 89 points while only attempting two free throws, becoming the first team to do so since at least 2010.

Updated Bracket:

Semifinals (Sunday, March 8):

#4 Lafayette at #1 Bucknell

#6 American at #2 Colgate

Final (Wednesday, March 11):

#6/2 vs #4/1, at higher seed

Patriot League Tournament Recap: 1st Round

Favorites reigned in the Patriot League on the first night of college basketball’s postseason:

7. Navy 56, 10. Army 52 — The Midshipmen missed their first nine three-point attempts on Tuesday, but Zach Fong swished the 10th, wide open off a kick-out from Brandon Venturini, to break open a tied game in the final minute. Navy held on for its third win over Army this season and its first postseason victory since 2001.

A day after being named first-team all-conference, Worth Smith scored just four points on 2-15 shooting, his worst offensive performance of the season. But Smith contributed on defense, collecting 11 rebounds, three steals and three or four additional deflections. Will Kelly (13 points) and Tilman Dunbar (11) picked up the offensive slack in a low-scoring battle.

Army, picked second in the preseason poll, managed just .83 points per possession to close an underwhelming season. The Black Knights also struggled from three-point range (4-20) and had 11 shots blocked. A Patriot League Tournament-record eight of those came from Kelly, none bigger than this denial of Tanner Plomb (complete with a staredown):

Video via the Patriot League Network

Video via the Patriot League Network

8. Holy Cross 62, 9. Loyola (MD) 45 — In a less thrilling contest, the Crusaders jumped out to a 15-4 lead and led wire-to-wire. Loyola shot poorly from two-point range (16-42), worse from beyond the arc (2-15), and even struggled from the free-throw line (7-16). The hosts weren’t outstanding on offense, but 1.05 ppp were more than enough, led by matching 10s from Malcolm Miller, Matt Husek, Cullen Hamilton and Robert Champion.

Holy Cross has all the makings of a dark horse — the Crusaders have talent, they’ve now won five of seven, and they beat each of the top five seeds once this season. Four of those wins came at home (and the fifth in nearby Boston), however, and Holy Cross will play its remaining games on the road, where it went 2-7 in league play.

Updated Bracket:

1. Bucknell vs. 8. Holy Cross

4. Lafayette vs. 5. Boston University

3. Lehigh vs. 6. American

2. Colgate vs. 7. Navy

Malcolm Miller Carries Holy Cross in Patriot League Finale

Malcolm Miller looks to pass in the second half of Saturday's game. Miller scored a career-high 30 points at Boston U.

Malcolm Miller looks to pass in the second half of Saturday’s game. Miller scored a career-high 30 points at Boston U.

At Agganis Arena on Saturday afternoon, it didn’t seem to matter where Malcolm Miller was shooting from. A tough floater in the lane, or a bank shot from a crafty angle? Both good. An NBA-range three-pointer through contact? Straight and pure. A step-back 26-footer, with the shot clock low, over Cedric Hankerson’s outstretched arm? Nothing but net. Continue reading

Behind Aggressive Defense, Holy Cross Shocks No. 25 Harvard

Entering their season opener against No. 25 Harvard, the Holy Cross Crusaders knew they couldn’t play cautiously. In the final game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader at TD Garden, the Crusaders came out with aggressive full-court pressure and kept it up throughout the evening. Forty minutes later, they were rewarded with 24 forced turnovers and a 58-57 upset — their first victory over a nationally ranked team since 1977. Continue reading

Tuesday Preview: Basketball all around

Tonight is a big night for college basketball in around New York City. I’ll be at the Jimmy V. Classic watching Missouri vs. Villanova and Marquette vs. Washington from Madison Square Garden, but you can catch action in Staten Island, Newark and Morningside Heights tonight. Here’s what to watch for in those three games.

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Summer Wrap Up: The Unlucky Crusaders

Holy Cross was featured today on SI.com by Andy Glockner for doing something that must be a pretty rare occurrence, being the unluckiest team in America for two seasons in a row. The Crusaders are an astounding 3-20 in games decided by five point or less the past two seasons.

It’s generally assumed that luck doesn’t carry over in that fashion. It’s much more likely that a team will drop back into the middle of the pack the next season. That’s because being “unlucky”, at least how Ken Pomeroy defines it, isn’t caused by any single attribute in a basketball game. Want proof? Just look at teams similar to those Holy Cross squads have done in the past.

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