Manhattan 56, Holy Cross 54
NEW YORK (AP)—Luis Flores, held below 10 points for just the second time in his 66 games with Manhattan, hit the winning jumper with 24 seconds to play Sunday and the two-time defending champion Jaspers beat Holy Cross 56-54 in the opening round of the Holiday Festival.
Flores, a senior who entered the game with a 23-point average, connected from the foul line to give Manhattan (5-2) a 55-54 lead, just its second of the game. Flores, who had nine points, was the MVP of this tournament the last two years.
The Jaspers will play Penn, which beat St. John’s 63-61 in double overtime, for the title Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Manhattan will try to become just the second school to win three straight Festivals, joining St. John’s, which won four in a row from 1984-87.
Dave Holmes had 19 points and eight rebounds for Manhattan, which trailed by 13 points in the first half and was down 48-37 with 9:47 to play. Holmes scored 14 of Manhattan’s last 22 points, taking over the offensive load for Flores, who finished 3-for-11 from the field and was limited to 34 minutes because of foul trouble.
John Hurley had 12 points for the Crusaders (4-5), who finished with a 38-28 rebound advantage, including 17-11 on the offensive end.
Two free throws by Holmes with 2:31 left gave Manhattan its first lead, 53-52. Nate Lufkin converted an offensive rebound with 56 seconds to play to give Holy Cross a 54-53 lead.
Flores, who had been held to less than 10 points by Loyola, Md., on Feb. 18, 2002, hit the game-winner with 24 seconds left. Hurley missed a shot in the lane with 5 seconds to play and Mike Konovelchick made one free throw for Manhattan with 3.5 seconds left. A halfcourt heave by Torey Thomas was on line but short for Holy Cross.
Jason Wingate added 11 points for the Jaspers, who won this tournament in 1956 and 1973 in addition to the last two years.
Greg Kinsey had 11 points and Jave Meade added 10 for the Crusaders, who were making their seventh Festival appearance, but first since 1977.