WATERBURY — Holy Cross used a pressing defense to rattle the Greyhounds in the opening period on Tuesday as the Crusaders jumped out to a 20-2 advantage. Naugatuck never recovered and fell to 0-2 on the season following the 62-39 loss.
The Greyhounds did turn the tables in the second half outscoring Holy Cross 27-19 but the matter was already settled when the teams headed to the locker room at the half with Naugatuck trailing by a 41-12 count.
Mick Pernell put on a charge late in the fourth period scoring 13 of his 20 points putting down 3 three-pointers in a row but it did little to change the outcome. Nolan Kinne threw down 10 points and Brandon Kuczenski hauled away 11 rebounds, blocked three shots and scored five points for the Greyhounds cause.
It didn’t quite match the all-around game of Mike Mallory as he led the Crusaders with 27 points accounting for 11 in the Holy Cross first period blitz.
Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson quickly called a timeout to try and settle the Greyhounds down after the offense got trapped three times in a row looking to get the ball up court.
Kuczenski threw in a put-back at 6:43 to tie the game at 2-2 but it would be the only points Naugatuck could muster for the remainder of the period.
The Crusaders ran the floor with Mallory leading the charge and at 5:23 left in the period Holy Cross was in front by a 12-2 margin.
Another Naugatuck time out did little to slow down the Crusaders and seven turnovers later Holy Cross went into the second period holding a commanding 20-2 lead.
Matt Zahornasky and Adam Neveski battled on the boards as the Naugatuck offense began to come to life. Kinne knocked down a three in the corner, went coast-to-coast off a steal and followed it up with another trey at the top of the key to make it a 26-10 deficit with 4:53 remaining in the half.
But there was just no answer for Mallory who poured in 14 points out of the Crusaders 21 point second period output. Kinne scored all 10 of the Naugatuck points as the Greyhounds trailed 41-12 at the break.
Zac Mercer and Dan Bronko came on to help out on the boards and Tyler Conklin put down a jumper in the lane to start the second half. Pernell hit a three in the corner and Kuczenski put one in off the glass down on the baseline as Naugatuck trailed 54-22 heading into the final period.
That’s when Pernell caught fire, hitting a turn-around jumper in the lane. The slashing guard heated up putting the next 11 points through the net on 3 three-pointers and a pull-up jumper to close the gap at 58-35 with 3:28 left on the clock.
The Crusaders were too far out in front to make a difference as Naugatuck fell to 0-2 on the season.