Holy Cross wins Patriot League title
Worcester, MA (Sports Network) – Torey Thomas posted a career-high 28
points and six rebounds, as the Holy Cross Crusaders downed the Bucknell
Bison, 74-66, to win the Patriot League Tournament title at the Hart Center.
These two teams met in the league title tilt for the third straight year and
in the two previous games, the Charles Lee-led Bison topped the Crusaders each
However, this year it’s Holy Cross headed to the NCAA Tournament.
Patriot League player of the year Keith Simmons scored 23 points for the
Crusaders (25-8), who own a Patriot League-best five tourney crowns. They won
three straight from 2001-03. Tim Clifford and Pat Doherty both added eight
points in the game, played on the Crusaders’ home floor, where they have gone
a perfect 14-0 this year.
“I knew Bucknell was not going to die because all our games have gone down to
the wire,” Crusaders coach Ralph Willard said. “I have never coached two
betters kids (Simmons and Thomas) in my entire life and I couldn’t be
John Griffin scored 15 points for Bucknell (22-9), which took out Navy and
Army in the first two rounds of this event. Chris McNaughton netted 12 points,
Donald Brown 11, and Justin Castleberry added 10 for the Bison, who have
reached the championship game six times in their history and have won more
than 20 games in the event.
The Bison rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit, but Holy Cross hit 16
straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“Nobody is going to take away from us the way we battled back in the second
half,” Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. “I was so proud of how hard we
The Crusaders started the second half on an 11-5 run for a 46-27 lead, but
Bucknell answered on a 13-0 burst to cut it to 46-40. Darren Mastropaolo’s
bucket with 5:52 to go then tied the score at 53.
Holy Cross rattled off seven straight, ended by a Thomas trey, though, and
cruised to victory on the back of its stellar foul shooting, finishing
23-for-26 (88 percent) from the charity stripe.
Simmons scored eight points on a 21-4 first-half Crusaders run, courtesy of a
near ten-minute scoreless Bison stretch, and Holy Cross held a 35-22 halftime
Bucknell, which came into this contest riding a 14-game winning streak, a
modern-day school record, owns a 25-20 lead in the all-time series, and the
teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season with each winning on
its home floor.