Crusaders can’t complete late comeback against Trinity
The raucous Trinity crowd, which smothered its home gym with sound since the beginning of the game, was equally loud, but visibly less confident. Their Pioneers had nearly squandered what, in the first half, looked to be a blowout.
The Memorial players slowly fought back into striking distance, chipping away with steals and offensive rebounds that led to extra possessions, the occasional three-pointer, and, what would end up hurting them at a key moment, chances at the charity stripe.
After pounding the ball inside and driving to the rim more effectively in the second half, Memorial earned its right to shoot free throws after each foul with 6:22 left in the fourth. The Crusaders cut the lead to four points with 5:42 left, and then again with 2:27 remaining.
With a stop on the defensive end and a chance to make it a one possession game, two missed free throws sucked the wind out of the Crusaders’ sails.
“We missed a huge opportunity to cut it to two with two missed free throws,” Memorial head coach John Quirk said. “Then they got a run out on the second one and it was a four-point swing. Instead of a two point game, it was a six point game, and that was big.”
Trinity rallied at the squandered opportunity by Memorial, and went on to win 65-54.
Quick said his team’s early-game struggles made it difficult to come back in the second half. Nevertheless, his players did get close, but couldn’t get over the hump.
“We let them run out too early to get the big lead,” he said. “We made a few runs at them.”
Trinity improved to 7-0 with the win, while Memorial dropped to 6-2 – good enough for sixth in the Division I standings. Memorial’s only other loss came at Dover, 74-62, on Jan. 4.
Manchester Central still sits at the top at 8-0, and Bishop Guertin, which the Crusaders beat on the road on Jan. 11, are nestled into third at 8-1.
Other than playing better for the duration of the game, Quirk said there are several aspects they need to clean up as the season progresses.
“We can play better offensively in particular and we can do a better job on the (defensive) boards,” he said.
Memorial is back in action on Friday, Jan. 25 at home against 2-6 Keene, and then travels across the city to face Central on Feb. 1.