The Holy Cross men’s basketball team (1-0) tipped off the 2018-2019 campaign with a wire-to-wire victory over Sacred Heart (0-1) at the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex in Worcester, Mass., on Tuesday. The Crusaders rode a strong first half in which they opened a 21-point lead at the break to cruise to a 93-81 victory over the visiting Pioneers. Sophomore guard Austin Butler, carrying the momentum from a strong finish to his freshman season, led Holy Cross with 26 points on 10-13 shooting.
A pair of runs by the Crusaders in the first half opened up the game and gave Holy Cross a comfortable halftime lead. Sacred Heart hung around for the first six minutes of the game, trailing Holy Cross 17-13. The Crusaders then put some distance on the Pioneers with a 13-2 run, during which Butler poured in three three-pointers. Sacred Heart managed to stay within shouting distance after that spurt. However, Holy Cross scored the final eight points of the half to take a 51-30 lead into halftime.
Holy Cross kept control of the game throughout the second half. The Crusader lead rarely dipped below 14 points, and HC held a 21-point lead with 1:22 remaining before Sacred Heart scored the final eight points once the game had already been decided. Sophomore point guard Caleb Green put in a good shift of 13 points, five assists, and two steals. Senior guard Patrick Benzan had a night to remember, scoring a career-high 19 points on 9-10 shooting to go along with five assists. Senior forward Jehyve Floyd, the reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Patriot League Third Team selection, tallied nine points but dished out a career-high 11 assists. Sophomore forward Matt Faw also chipped in a career-high 12 points on 4-8 shooting from three-point range.
The Crusaders took advantage of a sloppy Sacred Heart team, turning 20 turnovers into 33 points on the other end. In shooting 67% from the field (41% from three), Holy Cross continued efficient scoring from last season; the Crusaders have now shot 50% or better from the field in 10 of their last 15 games, dating back to last season. The 93 points was the most the Crusaders have scored against any Division I team since Nov. 13, 2013, a 122-118 double overtime win over Sacred Heart, coincidentally. (HC talled 98 points in regulation in that game.) The Crusaders travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the #19 Michigan Wolverines this Saturday at 7:30 PM ET as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament before taking on Providence on the road next Tuesday.