Sizzling Crusaders crush Army, 84-46

Army actually played fairly well, especially in the first half. However, Holy Cross showed why it will challenge for the Patriot League crown this year. They moved the ball extremely well on offense, and shot lights out. The Crusaders proceeded to hit 15 3-point field goals, shooting over 57 percent from the field (over 65 percent in the first half) on their way to a convincing 84-46 victory. Army now stands at 0-2 in the Patriot League as it embarks on a 3-game road trip.

Both teams actually played very well in the opening 5 minutes. The "New York" trio of Kingston native, Keith Simmons, Kevin Hamilton (Queens Village) and Torey Thomas (White Plains) killed the Black Knights all night, and all three opened up the scoring for Holy Cross. The Crusaders jumped to a 10-5 lead on a layup by Kevin Hyland (yet another NY'er). However, Matt Bell hit a 15-footer, Cory Sinning banked one in from about the same distance, and Corban Bates made a nice layup after some great hustle by Erik Engstrom. This gave the Black Knights a slim 11-10 lead, one which would be their last of the game.

Army still hung very tough over the next 5 minutes. Torey Thomas hit another tough 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock expired to give Holy Cross a 13-11 lead, and then the teams traded buckets (including a nice reverse layup from Cory Sinning) to make it 21-19, Holy Cross, with 10 to play.

At this point, the Crusaders continued their scorching play. Keith Simmons and Alex Vander Baan contributed key buckets during a 14-2 Holy Cross run. Army closed the game to 37-26 on a nice layup by Matt Bell, but once again, Keith Simmons and Kevin Hamilton answered with deep 3-point field goals. 2 more free throws by Matt Bell, and Army found themselves down 43-28 at halftime, even though Army shot reasonably well themselves (over 45 percent) in the first half.

Holy Cross continued to pour it on in the second half. They increased their lead to 28, 59-31 over the first 6 minutes, capping their 16-3 run with yet another Simmons 3-pointer. Jarell Brown hit a nice 18-foot jumper to make it 59-33, when Simmons, who obviously had a lot of family and friends come to Christl from the Kingston area, hit another trey. After Army freshman Dan Borcherdt answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, the Crusaders hit another 3-point field goal by, you guessed it, Keith Simmons. Kevin Hamilton hit another 3 with about 8 and a half to play to make the score 68-38, and the rout was on. The last 8 minutes saw extended playing time for reserves from both squads. In fact, this extended "garbage time" probably contributed to Holy Cross' shooting percentage dropping to "only 50 percent" in the 2nd half for the overall 57 percent figure.

Keith Simmons looks like he will challenge for 1st team All-Patriot honors as he finished with 26 points on 9-11 shooting. He received a nice hand from his supporters when he left the game late in the 2nd session. Kevin Hamilton showed he will also be vying for all-league honors with 21 of his own, including several of the tough variety. Torey Thomas quarterbacked the squad well with 7 assists and also contributed 16 points. Freshman Alex Vander Baan looks like another prized recruit as he added 9 points (6-6 from the free throw line) and led Holy Cross with 6 rebounds.

For Army, Matt Bell led the team in scoring once again with 13. Cory Sinning played with a lot of fire and also contributed double digits with 10. The unsung Black Knight of the game was clearly Erik Engstrom, who, while held scoreless, led all players with 7 rebounds. Engstrom pulled down a couple of offensive boards that led to Army points, and entered into scrums on the floor that forced a couple of "jump balls" or "changes in possession".

While the second half got rather ugly, this was not a case of Army playing poorly as much as the Black Knights being clearly outclassed by very tough Patriot League competition. The schedule does not get kinder for Army as it plays its next 3 on the road. The Black Knights open their trip with a 7:30 pm tilt against the 2-0 Lehigh Mountain Hawks in Bethlehem, Pa. on Saturday, January 14.


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