Sports

The State of Hoops on the Hill

Jack Milko ‘20
Staff Writer

Note: All stats and records are updated as of Tuesday, Nov. 19.

As the play-by-play radio announcer for both the Holy Cross men’s and women’s basketball teams, I will be writing biweekly articles on the state of both programs for The Spire throughout the season. You can listen to home games on WCHC 88.1 FM or online at https://college.holycross.edu/wchc/Listen_Live.html

Both of the basketball programs on Mount St. James opened their seasons playing on the road: the men played at Maryland, while the women began this year’s campaign at Illinois. 

The Men’s Basketball Team

At the 11:11 mark of the first half, Holy Cross held a 22 to 21 lead over the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins. From that point on, however, Maryland outscored Holy Cross 74-49, ultimately winning by a score of 95-71. Although the Crusaders lost its season opener by 24 points, there are some positives to take away from it. Holy Cross managed to hang tough with a national title contender for the first ten minutes of the game. The freshman tandem of guard Drew Lowder and forward Joe Pridgen were certainly thrown into the fire, playing in front of a hostile crowd of 13,633. Nonetheless, they exceeded expectations by combining for 36 points on 16-28 shooting from the floor. 

Four days later, the Crusaders played in a high-scoring affair at New Hampshire, a game in which UNH won 87-83. Lowder and Pridgen combined for 27 points, but the star of the game was freshman guard Ryan Wade, who came off the bench to score a team-high 24. Then, last week, in a tough overtime loss against Fairfield, four Crusaders managed to score nine or more. Lowder again played well as he had 16 points, which included four huge three-pointers in the second half. Pridgen also had a solid game with nine. Junior forwards Austin Butler and Connor Niego also provided some offense, combining for 26 points. Ultimately, the Crusaders will have to continue to lean on their youth movement as they are now the only team in the Patriot League without a victory so far this season. If they keep to their up-tempo style, and continue to play hard, then their first victory will come soon.

The Women’s Basketball Team

In the practices leading up to the season opener against Illinois, interim head coach Ann McInerney kept emphasizing both intensity and hustle. Illinois and Boston College, the two teams that the Crusaders have faced so far this season, saw both of these priorities on display to great effect. Although Holy Cross fell short at Illinois in overtime, the Crusaders played tremendously with senior forward Lauren Manis leading the way with 22 points and 21 rebounds. Prior to the start of the season, Manis was selected as the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year. She has lived up to that bill so far. In fact, this year’s Holy Cross team returns almost 99 percent of last year’s scoring as well as all five starters. Last week, in an 80-71 victory over in-state rival Boston College, senior center Megan Swords had one of the best games of her career. Shooting an efficient 8-1212 from the field, Swords totaled 21 points – a career-high – and snagged 14 rebounds. Four other crusaders found themselves in double digits, as junior guard Jenay Faulkner and sophomore guard Avery LaBarbera each had 16. Although she had some questionable fouls called against her that limited her to just 20 minutes, Manis somehow managed to score 11 points against BC. Senior captain Madalyn Smith, the floor general, added ten in the victory. Looking ahead, the Crusaders should win most of their non-conference games given the depth and talent they have on their roster. Do not be surprised to see them run the table and win out before the beginning of Patriot League play.

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