Patrick Grudberg ‘24
Sunday, March 12th was a great day to be a Holy Cross Crusader. Only hours before the Selection Show for the NCAA Tournament, Holy Cross women’s basketball traveled to Boston University for the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament. Coach Magarity’s team had rolled through their first two tournament opponents, defeating American and Lehigh by an average margin of 23 points. Awaiting them in the final was a BU team that went 17-1 in regular season play, their only loss coming at the hands of this Crusaders team. You could not have written a better script. Trying to punch their ticket to the dance for the first time since 2007, facing off against an in-state rival only 45 minutes down the Mass Pike, all culminating in the third chapter of an already intense, back-and-forth series between the two leaders of the conference. What ensued was one of the proudest moments for the entire Holy Cross basketball community in recent decades.
After going up 10-3 early, BU sputtered on offense, allowing Holy Cross to retake the lead and go into the half with a 39-30 lead. There seemed to be a cautious, quiet confidence at that moment. Holy Cross had just defeated the Terriers a few weeks earlier. But this time, it was back on BU’s home turf, in front of an energetic crowd on the biggest stage. Yet, despite all the potential for nerves, Coach Magarity’s team came out roaring to start the third quarter. By the three minute mark of the third quarter, Holy Cross, led by Bronagh Power Cassidy’s hot hand, stretched the lead to 22 points. Everyone seemed to be containing their smiles and contagious excitement. The BU bench looked devastated and down for the count.
From a fan’s perspective, the last thirteen minutes or so were some of the most nerve wracking scenes of the calendar year. After achieving that 22 point lead, the Crusaders went ice cold and didn’t score for seven minutes. BU, led by senior guard Syndey Johnson, cut that lead down to a mere one point advantage. Watching helplessly from campus, the group of students watching the game with me were in total disbelief. This can’t be happening. This won’t happen. And for once, despite the often cruel nature of sports, it did not happen. Bronagh Power-Cassidy scored the last five points of the game, including some clutch free throws to put the game out of reach. When the buzzer sounded, unbridled joy ensued. The Crusaders were dancing in March for the first time in 16 years.
For any college student rooting for your school team, especially at smaller schools like Holy Cross, there’s always the discussion of “what if we made March Madness? How cool would that be!” We’ve been blessed to experience some postseason runs with the football team, and now we get to see it play out in March with this fantastic women’s team. Sunday night’s selection show saw the Crusaders slotted as a #15 seed against the #2 Maryland Terrapins. It will obviously be an uphill battle. But here’s the joy of March – everybody’s got a shot. No matter how big the school, what your record is, what seed you are, it’s win or go home. Even if Holy Cross bows out against Maryland, we’ll still look back on this season as a resounding success. But for now, we can dream of that magical moment, the Cinderella story, David knocking off Goliath. Good luck to Coach Magarity and the entire women’s basketball team!
*Holy Cross will play at 2:30pm on Friday, March 17th on ESPN News*
Featured image courtesy of goholycross.com
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