Sacred Heart loses season-opener to Holy Cross
Published 12:00 am, Saturday, November 11, 2017
FAIRFIELD — The key number that Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina will be drilling into his players’ heads over the next couple of days is 20.
As in 20 turnovers.
Make 20 turnovers and chances are, you’re not going to win. And the Pioneers didn’t, losing 69-64 to Holy Cross in the first regular-season home game at the Pitt Center in 13 years.
“No question, we have to talk about the turnovers,” Latina said. “And not just stressing the 20 turnovers, but why did we turn them over? What were we doing? Why were we turning the ball over?”
Thirteen times in the first half, as Holy Cross was building a double-digit halftime lead, did the Pioneers turn the ball over. Add to that, a total of eight missed free throws (SHU was 10 of 18) and 16 missed 3-pointers (4 of 20) basically spelled disaster.
“You have to give Holy Cross credit, they play a funky zone, going back and forth from a 2-3 to a 1-3-1 and it kept us, quite frankly, off balance,” Latina said. “We prepared for it, but for whatever reason, we just weren’t able to get into any kind of rhythm.”
“I feel like we were really tentative in the first half,” senior forward Joseph Lopez said. “We were having a lot of turnovers in the beginning, I think that’s what shut us down and we weren’t getting the ball movement flowing through the post.”
Saddled with three first half fouls, Lopez had just four points and took just three shots but he rallied to finish with 15 points and 13 rebounds as SHU put together a late run, cutting a 10-point Crusaders lead down to three and watching helplessly as Sean Hoehn’s potential game-tying 3-pointer rolled in and out with 10 seconds left.
“You have to give Holy Cross credit,” Latina said. “They knew what our strengths were and they good job of kind of neutralizing it in the first half.”
“It was a good win,” Holy Cross coach Bill Carmody said. “You never really know what you’ve got coming in. We lost a lot of guys and I thought some of the older guys came through and some of the younger guys contributed in certain ways.”
Junior forward Karl Charles led everyone with 23 — 14 coming in the first half as the Crusaders were taking a 36-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. Junior guard Patrick Benzan added 14 and freshman Kaleb Green had 12.
“Benzan and Charles are juniors and they’re expected to do that,” Carmody said. “The upperclass guys have to come though and tonight most of them did.”
A 13-3 Pioneers run to open the second half, cut the Holy Cross lead to 39-38 with 16:10 left but the Crusaders used a mini 7-0 burst to regain an eight-point cushion. From there, the closest SHU could come was three points in the final minute.
“We definitely have to run our offense better, Lopez said. “We were forcing passes, making mistakes and we have to play better on defense. They shot 48 percent and some of those were easy shots. It’s hard to win when you have guys making that many shots.”
Sean Hoehn led Sacred Heart with 18 points — but was guilty of six turnovers — and freshman forward E. J. Anoskie had 13 points and eight rebounds, five coming off the offensive glass.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Holy Cross’ Karl Charles. Not only did he score 23 points, he made three 3-pointers, the backbreaker coming with 2:10 to play and the shot clock clicking to zero to turn a seven-point lead into 10.
NOT IN THE BOX
This marked the first time since 2004-05 that Pioneers opened its regular season schedule with a home game. The last time was November 19, 2004 when Albany came to the Pitt Center and defeated SHU 85-67. The Pioneers have gone 5-7 in season openers since, with four of those wins coming in the Connecticut 6 tournament.
“Our formula for success is three things: ride our front court guys, make three’s at decent percentage and don’t turn the ball over. We did not achieve our goals on two of those three.” — Latina
HOLY CROSS 69, SACRED HEART 64
HOLY CROSS (1-0)
Grandison 3-8 0-0 7, Floyd 2-3 0-0 4, Charles 8-12 4-7 23, Benzan 4-8 6-8 14, Green 5-13 0-0 12, Faw 1-2 0-0 3, Le Sann 0-0 0-0 0, Zignorski 1-4 0-0 3, Butler 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 25-52 10-15 69.
SACRED HEART (0-1)
Matasovic 5-9 0-0 10, Lopez 7-13 1-5 15, Tucker 0-2 0-0 0, Hoehn 7-15 2-2 18, K.LaRose 3-7 0-1 8, Anosike 3-7 7-10 13, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 0-3 0-0 0, Radz 0-1 0-0 0, Boateng 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-57 10-18 64.
Halftime—Holy Cross 36-25. 3-Point Goals—Holy Cross 9-23 (Charles 3-5, Green 2-6, Butler 1-1, Faw 1-2, Zignorski 1-2, Grandison 1-6, Benzan 0-1), Sacred Heart 4-20 (K.LaRose 2-6, Hoehn 2-8, Matasovic 0-1, Tucker 0-1, Lopez 0-1, Robinson 0-3). Fouled Out—Grandison. Rebounds—Holy Cross 23 (Zignorski, Charles 4), Sacred Heart 42 (Lopez 13). Assists—Holy Cross 11 (Floyd, Charles 3), Sacred Heart 14 (Hoehn 5). Total Fouls—Holy Cross 23, Sacred Heart 14.