AMHERST, Mass. – Holy Cross junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) scored a season and game-best 20 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds as the Crusaders ended their three-game losing streak with a 63-59 comeback victory over Massachusetts at the Mullins Center on Sunday afternoon. Holy Cross improves to 2-3 on the season, while the Minutewomen fall to 1-5.
With 4:22 left in regulation, UMass held the 56-48 advantage. Over the next 2:20, the Crusaders rallied and embarked on a 9-0 scoring surge to gain the 57-56 lead on the back of a junior Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) layup. Massachusetts answered the run with a basket on the other end to go up 58-57, but it was short-lived as Smith drilled a clutch three-pointer off a Malone steal to push Holy Cross ahead 60-58 with 37 ticks on the clock. The two teams traded free-throws over the final seconds as Holy Cross would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the contest.
Holy Cross began the contest sluggish on the offensive end, as it missed its first eight shots, which allowed UMass to gain the 6-0 lead at the 15:43 mark. Over the next five minutes the Crusaders would try to chip into the deficit, but the Minutewomen maintained their margin as they led 12-6 with 10:49 left in the first half. Holy Cross then went on an 8-2 run, led by Smith who connected on two three-pointers, as the Crusaders knotted the score at 14-14 with 6:46 on the clock. Over the final minutes of the first half, the score was tied three different times, but UMass would not trail as it went into the locker room on top 27-23.
UMass pushed ahead 29-23 to begin the second half, before the Crusaders went on an 11-3 rally to gain the 34-32 lead with 15:32 on the clock. Junior forward Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) scored seven points during the run including a trey from the top of the key. The two squads battled back-and-forth over the next seven minutes of action, as the game saw six lead changes and three ties with Holy Cross holding the 47-46 edge at the 8:38 mark of the second half. UMass would then go on a 10-1 run over the next four minutes, which set the stage for the dramatic come from behind finish for the Crusaders.
Ganser finished the game with 16 points and six rebounds, with 12 points coming in the second half. Malone scored 10 points, dished out six assists and grabbed five rebounds, while sophomore forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) posted five points and six boards.
Holy Cross shot 41.1 percent from the field (23-of-56), while connecting on 35.3 percent of its shots from behind the arc (6-of-17). The Crusaders held slim advantages in rebounds (36-32), offensive boards (13-7), assists (19-18) and fast break points (8-7).
Holy Cross returns to action on Wednesday, November 28, as it will host Central Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. in the final home game of the 2012 calendar year. The Crusaders will then go on an eight-game road trip and will return to the Hart Center on January 8.