The No. 16 Purdue University Calumet took its first lead of the game with less than a minute to play and that proved to be enough, as the Peregrines edged host Holy Cross College on the road Thursday, 78-77.
Purdue Calumet junior Cassidy Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) led the way, scoring a season-high 29 points and junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) added 21 points in the victory, which puts the Peregrines at 13-4 overall and 6-3 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Saints (6-13, 3-5) led nearly the entire way, as Holy Cross held as big as a 15-point advantage in the second quarter and headed into halftime up 10, 47-37. HCC’s blistering performance behind the 3-point line was a big reason why, as the Saints drained 10 triples on 20 attempts. Holy Cross made five more in the second half, finishing 15-of-36 (41.7 percent) from downtown compared to 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) for the Peregrines.
With Holy Cross leading by six, 61-55, entering the fourth quarter, the Peregrines began to make their move. After a pair of Saints free throws, back-to-back buckets and the foul by Buggs and Deno cut that lead to just three, 63-60, with 9:20 to go. Buggs would add another jumper in the lane to bring the Peregrines within one, 63-62, but another HCC 3-pointer pushed that lead back to four and one more 3 made it a seven-point advantage, 69-62, with 5:54 left.
Holy Cross kept answering every Purdue Calumet run - with three more 3s - and led by five, 75-70, with 2:53 left. But two Deno free throws, a steal and layup by Darien Thompson (Anderson, Ind./Anderson), and two more Deno free throws cut that lead back to one, 77-76, with 1:30 left. A Holy Cross turnover that led to Buggs' jumper in the paint finally gave the Peregrines the lead, 78-77, with 34 ticks left.
Despite two misses at the free throw line in the final seconds, the Purdue Calumet defense was able to hold, as the Peregrines forced the Saints into an 0-for-5 shooting performance in the final 21 seconds to come away with the win. Purdue Calumet outscored the Saints 23-16 in the final frame.
Thompson added 12 points and sophomore Katie Wampler (Scottsburg, Ind./Scottsburg) had eight points and seven boards for the Peregrines.
Kari Barnes led Holy Cross with 20 points, Tagin Schultheis had 18 points - including 6-of-9 from 3 - and Keysha Streater added 16 points to lead the Saints in the setback.
Holy Cross won the battle on the boards, 43-34, but the Peregrines shot better from the field, making 42.9 percent (27-of-63) compared to 40.3 percent (27-of-67) for the home team. The Peregrines also capitalized more at the free-throw line, making 18-of-24 (75 percent) compared to just 8-of-9 (88.9 percent) shooting for the Saints.
Purdue Calumet returns to action Saturday, Jan. 9, when the Peregrines host No. 9 Cardinal Stritch in a CCAC battle of NAIA ranked teams. Game time is set for 1 p.m. CT at the Fitness and Recreation Center in the first game of a doubleheader with the men’s teams.