Another out of character win for HC

Holy Cross beat Northeastern last night in a very un-Holy Cross way.

For the second game in a row it was the offense, not the vaunted Crusaders defense, that carried HC to the 82-76 win (box score). Five players reached double figures for the Crusaders, who shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, 54 percent for the game.

In the Boston Herald's story Mark Cofman points out:
. . . for the second straight game, the Crusaders enjoyed eclipsing 80 points while placing five players in double figures. Senior forward John Hurley tied a career-high with 18 points to lead Holy Cross, while Nate Lufkin added 14, Kevin Hamilton 13 and Torey Thomas and Keith Simmons 12 apiece.
Actually, that is a little misleading. Only three Crusaders reached double figures in last week's win over Brown. Nonetheless, the two straight games scoring over 80 is an oddity for the Crusaders.

I foolishly tossed out much of my library of media guides when I moved a few years back. Seemed sensible since, at the time, I was no longer doing sports full time. I mention that only to preface the fact that I couldn't check back far enough to find when was the last time an HC team scored 80 or more in back-to-back records. Suffice to say it has not happened in the last four seasons.

That is not to say Holy Cross has not had any good offensive teams in that stretch. The '02-03 version led the Patriot League in scoring (70.3 ppg) and shooting (46.2 percent). But that certainly has not been the norm in Worcester in recent years. Last year the Crusaders averaged 63.1 ppg and shot 41.2 percent from the field. In '01-02 they shot 40.6 percent from the field and averaged 63.1 ppg.

Before this recent outburst, HC had only scored over 60 points once and only shot better than 40 percent three times. Even with the last two games factored in, the Crusaders are only shooting 43.9 percent from the field and averaging 65 ppg.

So yes, this is a little out of character for Ralph's club.

Jen Toland, in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette (subscription required) makes another point about the past two games:
Last night’s game also marked the second straight in which the Crusaders have allowed an opponent to put up more than 70 points. It’s the first time that has happened since early in the 2001 season, when BC (75) and Iona (71) did it.

Holy Cross held six of its first eight foes to 56 points or less in regulation and ranks ninth in the country in scoring defense (54.6).
Not surprisingly, Ralph told the reporters after the game:
"Defense is what defines us. Over the long haul I think we all understand we're going to have to get back to playing the kind of defense we're capable of playing here to succeed. We need to bring a defensive mentality into each game - that has to be the identity of this team. I'll tell you one thing, practice will focus totally on defensive basketball."

While it might sound as if HC's defense was not up to par against Northeastern, Paul Harber, writing in the Boston Globe mentioned that the Crusaders defense did shut down Northeastern's leading scorer:
What hurt Northeastern was the play of its star point guard, Jose Juan Barea, who scored 12 points but had one of the worst games of his collegiate career. Barea, who entered the game averaging 24 points, was 4 of 22 from the floor, including 1 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"I have never seen him miss that many short pull-up jump shots,"' said (Northeastern coach Ron) Everhart. "He had a few good looks. But you've got to credit the Holy Cross defense. They pressured him well and took him out of what he likes to do. It was a tough night for Jose. He hasn't played that poorly for us offensively in a long, long time."
A couple of quick notes, courtesy of The Telegram:
Simmons, coming off a career-high, 30-point performance at Brown, was named Patriot League Player of the Week. Simmons is the first HC player to be so honored this season. … Sophomore forward Joe Young has left the team for personal reasons.
Elsewhere last night, Colgate started strong, then faded in the second half, falling to Florida International 72-56 in the first round of FIU's tournament. The Raiders, as predicted yesterday, will face Binghamton in tonight's consolation game. Here's a link to a game story from the Miami Herald and a box score.

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