WEST POINT, N.Y. – Holy Cross junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) scored a game and season-high 21 points and connected on five three-pointers to lead the Crusaders to a 51-46 triumph over Patriot League rival Army at Christl Arena on Wednesday evening. With the win, Holy Cross improves to 10-11 overall and 2-4 in Patriot League games, while the Black Knights slip to 15-6 on the season and 4-2 in the conference.
Holy Cross started the first half strong defensively, as it led 11-3 with 11:22 on the clock on the back of a Smith layup. Army scored five quick points to trail 11-8 at 9:03 of the first half. The Crusaders worked the lead to six points on two occasions as they led 16-10 with just over five minutes left in the half on a freshman center Molly Hourigan (Memphis, N.Y.) layup. The Black Knights grinded the deficit all the way down to one point (16-15) with under two minutes on the clock, before Holy Cross concluded the stanza on a 7-0 surge to head into the locker room on top 23-15. The Crusaders shot 40 percent (10 of 25) in the half as they limited Army to 25 percent shooting (5 of 20).
The Black Knights opened the second half on a 12-5 surge over the first 5:21 of action as they cut the deficit to one point (28-27). After a timeout by Holy Cross, the Crusaders offense picked up its momentum as Smith drilled a three-pointer on the ensuing inbounds play. HC junior forward Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) hit a jumper on the next possession to put the Crusaders up by six points (33-27) and then drilled a trey to give Holy Cross the 36-27 lead with 11:38 on the clock. Army answered with a three on the other end to make the score 36-30, but Smith canned a pair of threes and Ganser drained one from downtown on Holy Cross' next three possessions to give the Crusaders the 45-30 advantage with 7:55 to go in the second half. Overall, Holy Cross exploded for a 17-3 rally to gain the 15-point lead.
The Crusaders kept the double-digit lead over the next five minutes, but Army would begin to chip into the advantage. With the score, 51-40, in favor of Holy Cross at the 2:45 mark, the Black Knights hit back-to-back three-pointers to make the score 51-46 with 1:35 left in the game, but could not get any closer as the Crusaders held on for the victory.
In addition to Smith for Holy Cross, senior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) tallied 12 points, while Ganser had eight points and seven rebounds. Hourigan posted six points and had seven caroms, while junior guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) tallied a game-best seven assists and five steals. Army's Jen Hazlett scored 15 points, while Kelsey Minato tallied 11.
Holy Cross shot 38.5 percent from the floor (20 of 52), while the Black Knights connected on 16 of 47 for the game (34.0 percent). The Crusaders shot lights out from downtown as they hit 8 of 15 from behind the arc (53.3 percent), as Army hit 34.8 percent of its shots from long range (8 for 23). The Crusaders held advantages in assists (17-12), rebounds (40-32), points in the paint (21-14) and second chance points (10-2).
The Crusaders will return to the Hart Center in their next contest on Saturday, Feb. 2 as they will take on Colgate at 1:00 p.m.