January 18, 2023 

Holy Cross tops Colgate in league showdown

What are the top takeaways from the Crusaders’ impressive win?

Holy Cross’ nationally-ranked scoring defense shut down the Colgate Raiders’ hopes of an early-season upset, owning both the paint and perimeter play with a throttling defensive effort in a 59-49 road victory in Hamilton, New York.

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Despite the absence of starting forward Janelle Allen, who missed the game due to illness, the first-place Crusaders found their rhythm after an uneven first-quarter start. Holy Cross continues to pace the league with a 7-0 mark. How did they do it? Let’s take a look at the top takeaways:

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Bronagh Power-Cassidy is a savvy competitor

Crafty. Savvy. Deceptive. Clutch.

The junior forward forces opponents to die a death of a thousand cuts — she does all the little things to help her team win. She’s not the fastest or the tallest and not yet a top ten scorer in the league, but when she’s engaged on both ends of the floor, she’s the best player on the court — and one of the best in the conference.

Against Colgate, she demonstrated all the ways she can beat you despite being the top target of its game scout. Power-Cassidy poured in a team-high 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting and her jumper in the paint with 39 seconds remaining was the dagger that finished the Raiders.

Whether it’s a big rebound, the knack for drawing a foul at key juncture of the game, or a clutch made shot at the right time, the junior from Dublin is delivering this season — and she did against Colgate.

On the defensive end, she made her presence felt: Power-Cassidy blocked a shot on the perimeter, sent one back inside the paint, and consistently closed out to the ball to keep her player in front of her. 

She also has the ability to play physical defense without fouling (Colgate got to the line just seven times) and is adept at running opponents off their lines when they cut. And she does those things while drawing both guards and forwards in her defensive assignments.

She was the difference—maker against Colgate.

Keep your eyes on Power-Cassidy. You’re watching someone who knows how to play the game.

The rhythm is going to get you

Colgate wanted to speed up the plodding Crusaders but couldn’t. The Raiders learned the hard way that it’s easier to slow a team down than it is to speed it up.

After successfully putting the brakes on the high-flying offense of Lehigh two weeks ago in an impressive upset win, the Raiders sought to tilt tempo in their favor by creating more game pace.

Colgate employed a three-quarter court zone press that worked to great effect in the first quarter, forcing Holy Cross to turn the ball over multiple times and leading 16-12 after the first frame.

Holy Cross adjusted and ultimately kept the game at the halfcourt pace it prefers. Guards Addisyn Cross, Kaitlyn Flanagan and Cara McCormack overcame turnover troubles to navigate the pressure and keep the tempo regulated. The Crusaders were impressive in their discipline to grind the Raiders’ defense down.

The attempts to keep an up-tempo style frequently hindered Colgate’s offense as it had too many possessions in which it rushed its shot early in the clock instead of focusing on increasing the pace of cuts and ball and player movement. 

The Raiders never found their rhythm on offense.

It’s a lesson learned for the young Colgate squad: it must learn to execute better in the halfcourt. It’s what all big games come down to. Holy Cross did it better in this round. 

Sophomore Lindsay Berger had a huge second half and posted a double-double in her first career start in league play. (Photo credit: Mark Seliger Photography)

Holy Cross won the battle in the paint

Despite missing starting post Janelle Allen, the Crusaders won the rebounding battle and topped Colgate in points in the paint.

The victors enjoyed a 40-29 edge on the boards and bested the Raiders in points in the paint, 26-20. Colgate began the game with sharp attacking passes into the post and were able to consistently feed the ball inside and outscored the league-leaders in the lane 14-10 in the first half.

But there were missed opportunities in those single-coverage post-ups and despite having the edge in paint points, Colgate couldn’t capitalize on the majority of its chances inside and trailed at the half.

The Crusader defense tightened in the second half as the Colgate guards began to try to attack one-on-one off the dribble from the perimeter with more frequency. The Raiders had difficulty getting into the paint and were forced to take difficult outside shots as a result. They shot just 5-for-20 from three-point range.

The Crusaders’ defense fueled a second-half win in paint points, tallying a 16-6 edge and sealing the win. They owned the paint and the day.

Holy Cross entered the game ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 52.5 points per game and 17th in field goal percentage defense, allowing just 35.0% shooting.

Lindsay Berger stepped up

The sophomore forward made her first career start in conference play with Allen out due to illness. Berger stepped up with a double-double, scoring 13 points and adding 10 rebounds. She was also a much-needed physical presence on the interior.

Berger is no stranger to the starting line-up as she made 11 starts in non-conference play but had settled into a role as the first post off the bench in league action.

Holy Cross aimed to attack inside early as Berger earned an advantageous position down low. She was 1-for-4 from the floor in the first quarter before being subbed out, but her aggressiveness and fearlessness to face-up and attack in the paint met the moment. 

As the game found its pace, Berger finished strong, going 5-for-6 the rest of the way and converting a crucial score in the paint with 1:31 remaining to push the lead to seven and close the door on the hosts.

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The performance was Berger’s third career double-double. She’s scoring 9.7 points and grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game on the season. She’s also shooting a team-best 52.8% from the floor.

Holy Cross moves to 15-3 and 7-0 in conference play. Colgate drops to 10-8 overall and 4-3 in the league.

Written by Todd Goclowski

Todd Goclowski currently covers the Patriot League for The Next. Goclowski brings 25 years of coaching experience to his role as an analyst and writer, including 19 years of coaching women's basketball in the NCAA at the D1 and D3 levels.

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