'Saders dominate at home; HC presses past Harvard in matinee at Hart Center.


Byline: Paul Jarvey

WORCESTER - If Bill Gibbons were a professor instead of a women's basketball coach, he would've given his Holy Cross team a 97 for its performance yesterday.

Such was the dominance of his Crusaders in rolling past Harvard, 72-53, at the Hart Center.

It was HC's largest margin of victory in almost two years and its biggest win over the Crimson since 1999.

Harvard had beaten the Crusaders the last three years, including a 74-57 victory last year in Cambridge. Yesterday, HC held Harvard to just four field goals in a nearly perfect first half, and then led by as many as 32 points in the second.

The performance at both ends of the court allowed the Crusaders (3-3) to win two consecutive games, something they managed to do only once last year. They've won three of their last four games as they go into Wedneday's Hart Center matchup with undefeated Central Connecticut.

Whitney Fremeau, who filled out the box score nicely with 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, said it was the best the Crusaders have played in her four years with the team.

Gibbons thought it was his team's best effort in five or six years, maybe longer.

The victory came against a veteran Harvard team that had won three of its first four games and was coming off an 11-point road win over Boston University, which handled HC easily in a preseason scrimmage.

"I'm saying we have to play perfect to maybe beat them by one," Gibbons said. "We beat them in every category. It's a little scary."

The Crusaders maintained a lead of 25 or more points for most of the second half, although Harvard finally got the advantage down to the teens with a 10-0 run late in the game.

They held the Crimson to just 26 percent shooting, while hitting on 51 percent on their end. They had a 44-34 rebounding advantage, with Alyssa May leading the way with nine boards.

Emma Markley, Harvard's 6-3 senior center and leading scorer, didn't score. Second leading scorer Brogan Berry was limited to 7 points on 2-for-10 shooting.

HC's Meredith Ward pumped in a game-high and career-best 17 points to go along with 6 assists. Alex Smith, one of four freshmen playing key roles for the Crusaders, added 14 points, 12 coming in the first half, when she hit four 3-pointers.

That first half was something to see. Smith's fourth bomb kicked off a 17-0 run that gave HC a 42-16 lead at the break.

"We just came out fired up...

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