Holy Cross girls overcome slow start, knock off St. Paul

Holy Cross guard Idalis Miranda calls out a play. Miranda led the Crusaders with 21 points.

If you have watched a Holy Cross girls basketball game, you would have noticed something was missing from the first half of Friday night’s NVL showdown with St. Paul inside The Pit.
Intensity was lacking, and the Crusader players knew it.
Holy Cross came out with plenty of that traditional intensity in the second half and beat formerly undefeated St. Paul 59-50. The Crusaders improved to 12-1 while the Falcons dropped to 10-1.
Idalis Miranda provided the offense Holy Cross craved with 21 points. Meah Austin, on the other hand, did the dirty work under the basket. More often than not, it seemed that Austin came down with the key rebound. 
Twice in the second half, Austin set herself up for three-point plays by converting tough baskets in the paint.
“As a team, we knew we had to pick up the pace,” Austin said.

Meah Austin, surrounded by two St. Paul players in this picture, wouldn’t be denied
on the boards, be it on offense or defense. Her efforts, and 19 points, were a big key.

Austin did that under the basket by beating her opponents to the spot and getting the board.
On one play in the fourth quarter, Austin wouldn’t be denied. She battled under the boards, secured the ball and put it in to give Holy Cross a 44-40 lead with six minutes to play in the game.
And you can’t ignore what Devon Eason did. 
A big example came with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter. Austin missed a foul shot with her team down four points on a potential three-point play. There was Eason to grab the rebound and put it back for a lay-up and cut the deficit to 34-32.
In the fourth quarter, Eason connected on a short jumper from the left baseline to put Holy Cross up 49-42 as time ticked away from St. Paul.
Crusaders head coach Frank Lombardo moved Miranda off the point to get her more chances to score. Miranda scored 16 of her 21 points over the final three quarters.
“I knew he wanted me to score,” Miranda said of the switch.
Lombardo rotated several players to handle the ball, including the Brown sisters, Hannah and Ally. Meg Villano and Izzy Plant also took turns handling the ball.
Miranda knew what was wrong with her team in the first half.
“I think during the beginning of the game, we weren’t really focused,” Miranda said.
“We knew, honestly, that in the first half we didn’t play as well as we could have,” Austin said.
As an example, St. Paul threw the ball over the top of Holy Cross’s press a bevy of times, including after made baskets.
“We saw their press break during the JV game,” Miranda said. “We just weren’t doing it right, so we were getting beat.”
After the first quarter, Holy Cross allowed just three baskets to St. Paul. Sure, the Falcons hit 27-of-35 foul shots and missed a bunch of lay-ups, but some credit has to go to the Crusader defense.
“By adding defense into the mix, it added intensity,” Austin said.
Austin added with a laugh: “We always need heart in there, too!”

Ally Brown (20) was one of three Holy Cross players to make two or more foul shots
without a miss in the fourth quarter, where the Crusaders were 9-for-10.

Intensity and heart were there for Holy Cross in the second. 
Go ahead and add solid free throw shooting in the fourth quarter to the winning potion. The Crusaders were 9-of-10 in the final eight minutes. 
Even though it shot 10 less free throws then its opponent, Holy Cross buried its opportunities at the end.
All of the above led to a big win for the Crusaders.

“It’s always good to have a competitive team to play against,” Miranda said.
And it’s always good to beat one, of course.