BINGHAMTON – Paul Gilvary wasn’t thrilled to be coaching in what he termed the “Meatball Matinee.” The Holy Cross coach was happy his Knights avoided the “Scrambled Egg Opener,” by rallying for a 50-45 victory over New Rochelle in the consolation bracket of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic Wednesday afternoon in Binghamton, N.Y.
“This is the game you never want to play in – all these tournaments are constructed for the teams that win,” Gilvary said. “This way we get to have breakfast, have a little bit more of a normal schedule, get on the bus and go back home. It’s been a hectic couple of days, but we’re trying to make the best of it.”
Holy Cross' Anthony Libroia (l.) gave the Knights the lead late in their 50-45 victory over New Rochelle in the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic in Binghamton, N.Y.
Evan Conti made sure of that, scoring 13 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Of his four dimes, the last one was the most important one, Conti setting up junior Anthony Libroia for a go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:06 remaining. Like his teammates, Libroia struggled from the field in an opening-round loss to Imhotep Charter (Pa.) on Tuesday, but he felt better after shootaround Wednesday morning and scored 13 points against New Rochelle on 5-of-7 shooting.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it, I was just shooting,” he said.
Khamall Dunkley followed Libroia's 3-pointer with a length-of-the-court feed to Marquise Moore (14 points) for a layup and Conti hit a pair of free throws to ice the come-from-behind victory as Holy Cross closed on a 7-0 run.
The matchup with New Rochelle was starting to look like a replica of the loss to Imhotep as Holy Cross trailed 26-19 at one point, came out hot to start the second half, but lost the lead in a sluggish final quarter. Conti refused to let his team down, though he did uncharacteristically miss eight free throws. He scored 11 points after halftime, but most importantly set up Libroia’s clutch 3-pointer by drawing his defender on a drive into the lane.
"When your best guard is willing to give the ball up in a game-winning situation like that because someone has a better shot, it's a very good sign," Gilvary said. "He did that and Anthony made the shot."
Conti said: “He’ll make that shot eight out of 10 times. Everybody has faith in him. We know that’s his shot, that’s what he’s best at and we just want to exploit that.”
Holy Cross did catch a break when Torres, a senior with scholarship offers from Canisius, Rhode Island and Duquesne, went out early in the fourth quarter when he was poked in the eye, never to return. The 6-foot-4 senior needed 18 shots to get 19 points, but was creating problems for the Knights off the glass. Without him in there, New Rochelle managed only eight points in the fourth quarter and was held scoreless over the final 2:36.
"It had a big effect on the game," Gilvary said. "I hope he's OK, you certainly don't want to see anybody ever get hurt, but this happens in games."
Now, Holy Cross has a chance to head home with a winning record in Binghamton if it can knock off Mesa (Ariz.) in the fifth-place game Thursday at 11 a.m. It won’t include a trophy, as the Knights hoped, but it would be significant nevertheless.
“Even though [Tuesday] didn’t go well, we still want to leave out of here 8-3 and have a nice record going into league play,” said Conti, the uncommitted senior. “What’s the point of coming to a tournament like this and just giving up? New Rochelle is a team not too far from us and we want to build more respect. The only way you get respect is by winning games.”
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