By WACBA Hoops (@WACBAHoops)
WORCESTER, Mass. – Lisa Mifsud’s (Erie, Pa.) 3-pointer with less than four and a half minutes to play ignited a 14-1 outburst to help lift Holy Cross to a 78-63 victory over visiting UMass Lowell in a non-conference women’s basketball matchup on Monday morning.
The game was part of the fourth annual “Get Fit with the Crusaders” event that saw a record crowd of 2,824, including an estimated 2,700 Worcester Public School children from 19 schools. The previous Get Fit record of 2,134 was set on January 8, 2013 against Brown. In all, the event has boasted 7,971 attendees, or approximately 1992 per game, in four years.
“As a Worcester Public school alum, this day is very special for me,” said head coach Bill Gibbons. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this day possible and would also like to thank the kids who supported us throughout the game. This was our biggest crowd yet for the ‘Get Fit Game’ and it was a great atmosphere for our team!”
Holy Cross head strength and conditioning coach Jeff Oliver, along with several Holy Cross student-athletes, gave a presentation at halftime about eating healthy foods and exercising. The official attendance number was the most for a Holy Cross home women’s basketball game since the all-time record of 4,000 was set on Feb. 11, 2006 against Bucknell.
The Crusaders, who are undefeated (4-0) in Get Fit games, pick up their third win of the season (3-8) while the River Hawks slip to 5-6 in its second season as a Division I program.
Raquel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) opened the game with six for the Crusaders while Jasmine McRoy (Gaithersburg, Md.) canned a 3-pointer for the guests in the first four-plus minutes of action. The River Hawks eventually took a 7-6 advantage following a triple by Shannon Samuels (Windsor, Conn.) only to have Holy Cross reclaim the lead with a pair of freebies by Emily Parker(Johnston, Iowa) moments later.
“Coach Gibbons said before the opening tip that there should be an investigation if we don’t have energy,” commented Misfud. “I think the kids brought us a lot of energy. We came out [and] we executed well.”
UMass Lowell pushed ahead twice more before the hosts went on a 15-4 run to take a 26-16 lead with 7:56 left in the frame. Holy Cross went on to increase its margin to 16 courtesy of a Molly Hourigan (Memphis, N.Y.) layup with 4:40 showing on the scoreboard. Brianna Rudolph (Lynn, Mass.) and Lindsey Doucette (Hopkinton, Mass.) each sank a 3-pointer during an 8-3 run to whittle the River Hawks deficit to 11 twice before the break.
McRoy opened the second half with the seventh UMass Lowell triple of the contest to pull within single digits (8) for the first time since 6:15 in the opening frame. Scott answered for the hosts and bookended another personal run, this time with an 8-1 outburst, with a pair of old fashioned three-point plays to increase the lead back to 14. After a pair of free throws by Kayla Gibbs (Teaneck, N.J.), the River Hawks cut the deficit back to single digits with 14:38 remaining. UMass Lowell continued to chip away and eventually pulled within a pair following Samuel’s layup with 4:30 to play. Ten seconds later, Mifsud canned a trey and later converted a pair of freebies before Scott finished things off with a pair of layups in the final 1:16.
“I think there were points in today’s game where it felt like our shots weren’t dropping or maybe they were getting their hands on loose balls,” remarked Scott. “Being a team and coming together, we controlled the ‘controllables’ today.”
Scott led all players with 26 points and 10 boards while Kate Gillespie (Washington, D.C.) scored 19 and Mifsud added 14 to go along with a game-best seven helpers. Katie Doherty (Holbrook, N.Y.) chipped in with eight and Hourigan tacked on six while Parker scored all five of the Crusaders bench points. Hourigan also filled the stat sheets with three blocks, two assists and two swipes.
“After the UMass game, we had to regroup a little bit and I think this game was good for us because we played well and we played together as a team,” added Gillespie.
McRoy led a quartet of River Hawk double-digit scorers with 14. Rudolph came off the bench to sink 13 while Samuels (six assists) and Doucette (eight rebounds) each tallied 11 to go along with three steals apiece.
Holy Cross held advantages in the paint (38-18), off turnovers (24-19), second chance points (17-6) and fast break points (10-8). UMass Lowell enjoyed a 27-5 bulge in bench points.
The Crusaders travel to Stony Brook to face Norfolk St. and Western Michigan at the Seawolves Holiday Classic on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Both games are slated for 12:00 p.m. The River Hawks, meanwhile, host St. Francis (NY) at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 30.
Portion Courtesy Holy Cross Media Relations