The 9-seed Holy Cross Crusaders beat a 1-seed, a 4-seed and a 2-seed on consecutive days to win a Patriot League championship. This isn't a joke. Holy Cross knocked off the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 59-56 to earn its spot in the big dance.
The Crusaders had to win four straight games on the road. This is a team that DID NOT win a conference road game in the regular season. This is the definition of madness. We dare you to prove us wrong. At 14-19, Holy Cross will certainly be one of the teams in a play-in game and will face impeding doom against a 1-seed should it win.
Malachi Alexander picked the right time to have the game of his life. The junior forward went to splash town with six 3-pointers while scoring 26 points overall on just 10 shots overall.
Eric Green added 13 points.
All things pointed in the Crusaders direction early when they jumped out to a 20-6 lead. HC managed to never yield its lead despite spirited runs from the Hawks. With 1:21 remaining, a Jesse Chuku 3-point jumper cut the lead to just a point. After a few Alexander free throws, the score was cut to 1 again by Kahron Ross free throws. But Alexander added two more of his own and the HC defense held.
This one was slow-paced, which was entirely necessary for both squads after a week full of games. Especially for two squads that relied so heavily on their starters. Each Lehigh starter saw action on the court for 30+ minutes while four Crusaders played at least 34+ minutes. Neither team was abhorrent offensively, but it was something of a slugfest.
Lehigh shot just 38.2 percent from the floor while hoisting up 26 3-pointers. The Mountain Hawks made just eight of those tries. They needs just a few more.
Junior big man Tim Kempton was reliable per usual and put up 20 points. He was aided by 13 and 12 point nights from Kyle Leufroy and Kahron Ross. Note, none of these three are seniors, and the only graduate of this starting group will be Jesse Chuku. More might very well be expected of this Hawks group in the future.
But for now the attention is on Holy Cross and some attention will be hoisted upon its coach.
Bill Carmody tried his mightiest for years to get the Northwestern Wildcats to the tournament and here he is getting a team that couldn't win road games to win four straight to earn a bid to the dance.
Holy Cross knocked off several of the Patriot League's top seeds. It won its fourth consecutive game in the tourney by beating a team that went 13-5 in Patriot League play and had defeated the Crusaders twice already this season.
Dance Crusaders. You are March exemplified.