Holy Cross sleepwalked through the first quarter last night. By the time the Tartans awoke, McNamara center Crystal Washington had turned their game into a nightmare.
Washington pulled off a rare triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks to help McNamara surprise visiting Holy Cross, 56-53, in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game.
After winning 15 of its first 17, Holy Cross has lost two straight. The Tartans (15-4, 3-2) fell behind 9-1 after three minutes and 19-7 after one quarter. They struggled with their shooting and couldn't find a way to stop Washington.
Washington, a 6-foot-2 senior headed to Maryland next year, closed down the inside game and sparked a ferocious defensive effort from McNamara (6-7, 2-2). The Mustangs always seemed to have a hand in someone's face, and the Tartans rarely found an open shot.
Despite picking up her third foul in the first minute of the second half, Washington stayed in and made several tough shots inside and forced Holy Cross players to alter their shots just with her presence.
"We're trying to prove how good we are," Washington said. "We wanted to contest every shot. We started off slowly, but now we're getting to know each other."
McNamara Coach Mike Bozeman didn't want to get into a half-court battle with the Tartans, whose offense flourishes in those sets. Bozeman had the Mustangs press and trap as often as possible early to turn up the tempo and try and rattle Holy Cross--especially in the opening minutes.
"We wanted to jump on them early," Bozeman said. "I thought we had an advantage in quickness and speed. I wanted it to be a run-and-shoot game."
Holy Cross made just 15 of 61 from the field. The Tartans rely on balanced scoring and came into the game without a player averaging in double figures.
However, leading scorer Allyson Swailes had only three points and sat much of the game. Krystal Slade and Kara Lee Baker each had 10, and the Tartans drew closer in the final minutes.
McNamara got strong backcourt play from Candice Newman (15 points) and Stephanie Turner (10 points). Both made key shots and played tough defense. The Mustangs led by at least 10 for much of the game, and it would have been more if they hadn't made 23 turnovers.
"When you come out flat against a good team, you're in trouble," Holy Cross Coach Tom Splaine said. "They played good defense, and Crystal is a big-time player."