Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Holy Cross continues its remarkable run

DAYTON, Ohio — Holy Cross has a losing record — and a long-awaited win in the NCAA Tournament.

Robert Champion scored 19, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, to help the Crusaders beat Southern University 59-55 Wednesday night for their first tournament victory in 63 years.

"I think it's fantastic," coach Bill Carmody said. "It's everything we're trying to do at Holy Cross. We're trying to jump-start the program because we realize what an athletic program can do for a school. It's a great first step."

Holy Cross (15-19) was an unlikely NCAA participant, earning its automatic bid by winning four straight road games to take the Patriot League tournament title.

Now, after pulling out a sluggish game in the First Four, the 16th-seeded Crusaders are off to play No. 1 seed Oregon in the West Region on Friday in Spokane, Wash.

They plan to savor the experience.

"We're just enjoying this right now," Champion said. "We're going to hop on a plane and go to Spokane. We're just enjoying it and going for the ride."

Champion, a junior guard, also made two key free throws with 14 seconds left to seal the victory in a sloppy game that didn't get tight until well into the second half. He hit as many 3s as the entire Southern team, which was 3-of-20 from beyond the arc.

The Crusaders had lost nine straight NCAA Tournament games since defeating Navy and Wake Forest in 1953, six years after Holy Cross won the national championship.

Holy Cross led by as many as 12 in the first half thanks to a smothering 1-3-1 zone defense that Southern struggled to solve, but a 9-0 run allowed the Jaguars to get within 27-22 at halftime.

Southern started the second half with 7-0 spurt and eventually tied it with 1:24 left, but Champion hit his big 3 to put Holy Cross ahead to stay.

"A dream come true," Champion said. "Everybody dreams of making that shot."

MICHIGAN 67, TULSA 62: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zak Irvin scored 16 each for the Wolverines (23-12), who overcame poor shooting to advance in the First Four. Michigan faces No. 6 seed Notre Dame on Friday in Brooklyn.

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