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Holy Cross Looks for Improbable Run to Continue Tonight vs. Southern

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

 

The Holy Cross Crusaders make their return to the NCAA Tournament tonight when they face the Southern Jaguars in a First Four game being played in Dayton, Ohio. Tip off is set for 6:40 p.m. and the game can be seen on TrueTV. 

"I think Holy Cross has a real chance to win this game and an opportunity to show that their Patriot League Championship was not a fluke," said Holy Cross play-by-play man Dick Lutsk.

After finishing the season with an overall record of 14-19 and 5-13 in the Patriot League, the Crusaders won four straight road games en route to their 6th Patriot League Championship and in turn clinching their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. 

"As I told the team, and I've said this in the last couple of days a few times, that about three or four games before we got to the tournament -- the last game, Boston University killed us. But before that we lost three games, and they were all pretty close. And I thought we played pretty well. They seemed to be coming together pretty nicely. And I don't look for silver linings ever, just about, but then I said, listen fellas, we lost, but there's something there. And they started believing a little bit, I think. And then when we won the first game, Loyola, they really gained confidence and they started believing in themselves and then the team just took it from there," said Head Coach Bill Carmody in his NCAA Tournament press conference on Tuesday. 

This is  Holy Cross' 5th appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2001, however, they have not won a game in the tournament since 1953. 

Malachi Alexander 

Malachi Alexander looks to lead Holy Cross through the tournament.

One reason that Holy Cross is playing with that confidence is because of Malachi Alexander who is coming off a 26 point performance in the Patriot League Championship game. Two games before that, Alexander netted 20 points, including the game winner, in the Crusaders upset of top seeded Bucknell. 

"I think that I would give a lot of credit to my teammates just because they gave me a lot of confidence going into the playoffs. And when I had that big game against Loyola, you know, they continued to tell me, you know, keep shooting the ball, stay aggressive. And I just tried to do that for them throughout the rest of the playoff run. So, yeah, I would say it's probably my best stretch of games," said Alexander in a Tuesday press conference. 

Alexander was named Player of the Tournament in the Patriot League. 

"He has been a dominant force, every time Holy Cross needed a basket he was able to get it. Holy Cross will need it to continue," Lutsk said. 

The Southern Jaguars 

The Southern Jaguars went 22-12 overall and 11-7 in the SWAC conference, good enough for 4th place. Southern beat Jackson St. 54-53 for the SWAC title and are riding a 3 game winning streak. 

"Pretty explosive team. They like to get up and down, well-coached, balanced scoring with inside/outside kind of game. So what you learn in a few days and what you can impart on your team, I don't minimize it. But I think you have to do what you've been doing and tweak it a little bit according to the team that you're playing. So I think they're a very good team and they're playing well because they're here right now and they won a tournament. It wasn't like they won early. So you know that you're catching them on a high note," said Carmody. 

Southern is led by Adrian Rodgers who averages 16.6 points per game  and is shooting 41 percent from the field. 

Trelun Banks follows up Rodgers by averaging 12.6 points per game and shooting 37% from the field. 

Defensively, Southern is led by Jared Sam who averages 6.4 rebounds per game, and Christopher Hyder who averages 2.4 steals per game. 

What is at Stake 

The winner of this game will move onto Spokane, Washington where they will face top seeded Oregon on Friday, March 18. 

When asked about a potential matchup with Oregon, Alexander said "Our sole focus is Southern right now and tomorrow's game but you can't help but think about playing the 1 seed and how huge that would be for us. So it's in the back of our minds. But our focus is Southern,"

This is the first meeting between Holy Cross and Southern, winner advances to Friday. 

Lutsk added "They are really loose, playing with a lot of confidence right now. They are playing with house money, nothing to lose, and they know it,"

 

Related Slideshow: Holy Cross 2015-16 Projected Starting Lineup

Prev Next

G - Cullen Hamilton

Cullen Hamilton has averaged 8 points and 2 rebounds this season for the Crusaders. 

Hamilton had 2 points against Army. 

Prev Next

G - Anthony Thompson

Anthony Thompson controlled the last game for Holy Cross, nearly posting a triple-double. 

Thompson posted 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and a steal in 36 minutes of action. 

Thompson has average 7 points per game and 2 rebounds this season. 

Prev Next

F - Malachi Alexander

Malachi Alexander comes into the game averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds on the season for Holy Cross. 

In the last game, Alexander had 13 points and 7 rebounds. 

Prev Next

F - Karl Charles

Karl Charles is a 6'6" freshman forward from New Jersey who has averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds per game this season for Holy Cross. 

In the semi final game, Charles had 8 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. 

Photo courtesy of goholycross.com

Prev Next

F Eric Green

Eric Green has averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds so far this season but missed a little more than half of it due to injury. 

Green had 5 points against Army in the semi final game. 

Prev Next

6th man- Robert Champion

Robert Champion has been a spark plug off the bench for Holy Cros off the bench in this post season. 

Champion had 15 points and 6 rebounds against Army and 10 points against Bucknell, including the game tying three with under a second to play in the game. 

Expect Champion to be in the game early and often. 

 
 

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