EASTON, Pa. – Holy Cross junior guard Justin Burrell (Dumfries, Va.) scored a game-high 15 points and drained a trio of three-pointers to help lead the Crusaders to a 59-58 triumph over Lafayette in Patriot League men's basketball action on Wednesday evening at the Kirby Sports Center. With the victory, Holy Cross stretches its win streak to three games and improves to 10-9 overall and 4-3 in the conference, while the Leopards fall to 4-14 on the season and 0-7 in the league.
In addition to Burrell for Holy Cross, junior forward Malcolm Miller (Laytonsville, Md.) posted 10 points and a game-best seven rebounds, while senior center Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) recorded nine points and six boards. Lafayette was led by Nick Linder, who had 13 points, as well as Joey Ptasinski and Dan Trist, who had 10 points apiece.
Both teams went back and forth to begin the contest, as the game was knotted at 7-7 with 14:47 on the clock. The Crusaders scored five quick points to gain the 12-7 lead (12:29), but the Leopards responded with an 8-2 rally to earn the 15-14 advantage (6:57). Lafayette increased its lead to five (24-19) with 2:40 left in the half, but Holy Cross closed the half strong and went into the locker room trailing by two points, 26-24.
The Crusaders upped their offensive intensity after the intermission, as Burrell went three for three from behind the arc to begin the half and help Holy Cross gain the 45-36 advantage with 10:20 on the clock. The Crusaders kept the nine-point lead (52-43) with six minutes left in the half, but Lafayette surged back with a 13-3 run to tie the game at 56-56 (1:13).
Holy Cross sophomore forward Eric Green (Mountain House, Calif.) went one of two from the free throw line to give the Crusaders the one-point, 57-56, lead (0:54), as Holy Cross got a defensive stop on the other end to preserve the margin. After Burrell was fouled and drained a pair of free throws to give the Crusaders the 59-56 edge (0:19), Lafayette sank two from the charity stripe with 11 ticks on the clock to make the score 59-58. Holy Cross was fouled on the next possession, but missed the first free throw and gave the Leopards a chance to win the game. The Crusader defense, however, came up with a key stop on a well-contested jump shot to hang on for the 59-58 victory.
Holy Cross shot 40.0 percent from the field (20 of 50) and connected on seven of its 21 shots from behind the arc (33.3 percent), while holding advantages in rebounding (33-25) and second chance points (19-8). Lafayette canned 20 of its 45 shots from the floor (44.4 percent) and hit 30.8 percent from downtown (four of 13), while holding edges in points in the paint (22-20) and points off turnovers (10-7).
The Crusaders return to action on Saturday, Jan. 25, when they travel to Navy for a 7:00 p.m. contest.