WORCESTER, Mass. – Holy Cross junior guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) connected on a buzzer-beater from 17 feet out to give the Crusaders a thrilling 57-56 victory over Central Connecticut on Wednesday evening at the Hart Center. Malone finished the game with 11 points and a season-high nine assists. With the triumph, Holy Cross evens its record at 3-3, while the Blue Devils slip to 2-3 overall.
With the score knotted at 54-54 and 28 seconds left in regulation, Holy Cross sophomore Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) stepped to the line for two free throws. After she missed the first one, a timeout was called and Parker came out of the game as she injured herself on the drive to the basket, which drew the foul. However, Parker could not exit the contest since she already attempted one free-throw from the line. The injured forward came back on the court and swished the ensuing free-throw to give HC the slim 55-54 lead.
Central Connecticut was able to score on the other end with nine seconds on the clock, as Kirsten Daamen hit a jumper to give the Blue Devils the 56-55 edge. Holy Cross threw the ball in and called a timeout with four seconds left in the game. After Central Connecticut tipped a ball out of bounds, two seconds remained on the clock. On the ensuing throw in, Malone could not find anyone open and fired the ball off a Blue Devils defender and out of bounds, giving the Crusaders one last chance. This time, junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) passed the ball into Malone who found a small window and released the shot that found the center of the basket as time expired.
The Blue Devils began the game strong as they led 21-14 at the 9:29 mark of the first half. However, the Crusader offense found some life, as they would go on a 19-2 run over the next 7:05 to gain the 33-23 lead with 2:24 left on the clock. Smith and sophomore forward Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) scored six points apiece during the spurt. After a jumper by Central Connecticut on the other end, Sullivan connected on her first career three-pointer to give the Crusaders the 36-25 lead at the half.
Central Connecticut slowly chipped into the Holy Cross 11-point advantage, as it would trail 41-35 at the 13:08 mark of the second half. The Blue Devils then went on a 9-4 rally to push ahead 46-45 with 5:20 remaining. Over the next four minutes, the two teams traded punches as there were three knotted scores and four lead changes, which resulted in an even 54-54 score with 1:26 in regulation. This set the stage for the final heroics.
Smith led the Crusaders as she posted a team-best 16 points and tied her career-high mark with six steals. Sullivan scored all of her 13 points in the first half, which is a career-best, as she connected on six-of-six shooting from the floor. Junior Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) scored eight points and collected a season-high nine rebounds. Daamen led the Blue Devils with 21 points and nine rebounds.
Holy Cross connected on 38.6 percent (22-of-57) of its shots from the field, while Central Connecticut shot 43.9 percent (25-of-57). The Crusaders shot well from behind the arc, as they hit seven treys on 17 attempts (41.2 percent), while the Blue Devils were held to 27.3 percent from downtown (3-of-11).
The Crusaders had assists on 20 of their 22 shot attempts in the contest, while the Blue Devils had 15 helpers in the game. Holy Cross held advantages in steals (10-8), bench points (15-2) and points off turnovers (19-17).
Holy Cross will return to action on Saturday, December 1, as it will begin its eight-game road trip at Manhattan for a 4:00 p.m. tipoff.