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NCAA women's basketball

Holy Cross women advance to first-round NCAA tournament matchup against Caitlin Clark and top-seeded Iowa

Senior guard Cara McCormack (No. 5) helped the Holy Cross women's basketball team advance to a first-round matchup Saturday at 3 p.m. against Caitlin Clark and the top-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes in the Albany 2 Regional of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in Iowa City, Iowa.Matthew Holst/Getty

On the same court made famous by the historic ascent of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark as the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader, the Holy Cross women’s basketball team earned the right to face Clark and the top-seeded Hawkeyes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a dominating, 72-45, play-in win over Tennessee-Martin on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Showing her marksmanship from beyond the 3-point arc, Cara McCormack, a 5-foot-3-inch senior guard from Smithtown, N.Y., led the Crusaders (21-12) with a career-high 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range.

McCormack helped Holy Cross surge to a 45-24 halftime lead, scoring 18 first-half points after burying a career-high 6 of 9 attempts from deep. Bronagh Power-Cassidy added 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting, 3 of 10 from the 3-point arc.


Holy Cross made 10 3-pointers in the first half — to tie its season high for an entire game. The Crusaders finished 12 of 32 from distance.

Anaya Brown led UT-Martin (16-17) with 15 points and Kenley McCarn, averaging a team-high 16.7 points, was held to 12 points.

The Crusaders, as a result, earned their second ever NCAA tournament win and second for the Patriot League after they defeated Maryland, 81-74, March 13, 1991. They will next face Clark, who sat in the stands with her teammates scouting the game, and the host Hawkeyes in an Albany 2 Regional first-round matchup Saturday at 3 p.m on ABC.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Michael Vega can be reached at michael.vega@globe.com.