Friday, November 23, 2007

Women's Basketball Falls to Holy Cross, 61-54, in Long Island Turkey Classic First Round

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Briana McFadden scored 17 of her career-high 28 points in the second half in leading Holy Cross to a 61-54 victory over UAlbany in the opening round of the Courtyard by Marriott LaGuardia Turkey Classic on Friday, Nov. 23 at the Wellness Center.

Holy Cross (3-2) advanced to meet Long Island in Saturday’s championship. UAlbany (1-4) will take on Youngstown State, who dropped a 68-54 decision to the host school, in the third-place game at 2:00 p.m.

The Crusaders, who trailed by seven at the intermission, cut that deficit to 35-33 when McFadden canned a pair of free throws. UAlbany responded with seven of the game’s next 10 points. Gia Sanders netted an offensive rebound and then hit a layup after her steal to begin that stretch. Britney McGee drilled a three-point field goal following another Sanders’ steal for a 42-34 cushion.

UAlbany still led 46-42 after a long-range jumper by Kristin Higy, who had 12 points, six rebounds and four steals. But McFadden, who made 9-of-13 from the floor, erased that lead with a layup off a full-court pass and a three-pointer from the right corner.

TaNika Thrower, who had 11 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes as a starter, put the Great Danes back in front with a steal and layup. Higy sank two foul shots for a 50-47 lead with 5:52 remaining. However, Holy Cross went ahead for good with seven unanswered. Bethany O’Dell, who totaled 16 points and six boards, nailed a 3-pointer off an in-bounds play, before Alyssa May, a 6-foot freshman, hit a jumper. O’Dell completed the decisive run by finishing off a high-low pass from teammate Kathy Gruzynski.

The Great Danes still trailed 57-54 in the closing moments, but had two opportunities to tie. Higy, a 6’1” senior, misfired on a three-point attempt with 29 seconds remaining. UAlbany then called a timeout it didn’t have when trying to in-bounds with 12.8 seconds on the clock which resulted in a technical foul. The Crusaders, who won last year’s Patriot League championship, made their final four points from the foul line.

"We forced turnovers, but we get too excited when we get steals,” explained UAlbany coach Trina Patterson, whose team was coming off road loss against La Salle on Monday. “We have to play with more composure on offense. Once we get there, we will be very dangerous. Our youth showed today - we made some rookie errors. A credit to Holy Cross, they hit some big shots when they needed them."

Tiffanie Johnson added nine points for the Great Danes, who shot 32 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers. The Crusaders, who had 30 ball-handling miscues, offset that figure by shooting 52.2 percent in the final period on 12-of-23 attempts.

“This was a character win”, said Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons, who has guided the program to 11 league titles over the last 17 seasons. “We pulled out a 2-2-1 press and that helped get the tempo our way. We weren’t playing well, but we found a way. It’s better to learn from a win.”

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