Holy Cross (19-12) at American (18-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bender Arena (3,044) -- Washington, D.C. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: Holy Cross 9-4, American 10-3. Away Record: Holy Cross 9-6, American 8-9. Neutral Record: Holy Cross 1-2, American 0-0. Conference Record: Holy Cross 12-6, American 13-5. Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 18-14.
GAME NOTES: The last Patriot League Tournament semifinal matchup to determine who moves on to the conference finals will pit the third-seeded Holy Cross Crusaders against the second-seeded American University Eagles at Bender Arena.
The winner here will take on either Army or Boston University for the tournament title.
Holy Cross defeated Lehigh University, 54-48, on Wednesday night to earn a berth in the Patriot League semifinals. The Crusaders have won three of their last four games spanning back into the regular season, but has dropped two head-to-head matchups against American this season already.
American almost let its season fall apart after the Eagles stumbled into the tournament with losses in five of their last eight regular-season games. But they pulled it together in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday night and defeated Colgate, 59-50, to advance to the semis.
Holy Cross holds the slim lead in the all-time series with American, 18-14. The Eagles took down Holy Cross back on Jan. 5 of this season, and again on Feb. 1 to earn the season sweep.
Holy Cross jumped ahead of Lehigh early on in Wednesday night's quarterfinal matchup, and took a 28-24 lead into the intermission. The Mountain Hawks battled all the way until the end, but the Crusaders, who bumped their lead up another two points by the game's end, came away victorious, effectively ending Lehigh's season. Malcolm Miller led Holy Cross with 19 points in the win, adding eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his stat line. Dave Dudzinski scored 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the floor, and pulled down six boards of his own. Anthony Thompson dished out a team-high nine assists for the Crusaders, who shot 40.4 percent in the contest.
The big man Dudzinski tops the team in scoring this season with a 15.2 ppg average, connecting on 47.6 percent of his shot attempts from the field. His 7.5 rpg mark is a team best, and his 23 blocked shots is second on the squad. Miller is the only other Crusaders player to average a double-digit point total, netting 10.9 ppg with a team-high 56 blocked shots. Justin Burrell is right out of double figure scoring range with 9.4 ppg, and Thompson leads the Holy Cross team with 72 assists on the year.
American University jumped way out ahead of Colgate on Wednesday night at the end of the first half, 30-15, which served as plenty of a scoring advantage to hold on and send the Eagles through to the semifinal round of the conference tournament. The Raiders were able to cut six points off that lead in the second half, but the Eagles weren't about to let their lead evaporate completely. John Schoof netted 16 points to pace American, adding six rebounds in the win. Tony Wroblicky tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, adding five assists to his resume, and Darius Gardner chipped in with 12 points.
Jesse Reed, who netted seven points in the win over Colgate, leads the team in scoring this season with a 14 ppg average on 52.2 percent shooting from the floor. Wroblicky checks in at second with 12.2 ppg, adding a team-best 7.4 rpg average to his season, along with 1.9 bpg and 1.1 spg. Schoof adds 11.9 ppg, and Gardner contributes 11.4 ppg for the Eagles, who are scoring 64.5 ppg through 30 contests. American prides itself on a strong scoring defense, allowing just 59.8 ppg to its opponents.
Homecourt advantage will help American in this case, since the Crusaders will be coming with everything they have to avoid a three-game sweep. Although Holy Cross has some good pieces on the roster, the Eagles' defense is just too strong. Holy Cross couldn't score more than 57 points against them in the regular season, and this time won't be any easier.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: American 67, Holy Cross 61
03/08 11:34:16 ET