Women's Basketball Returns To Action Against New Hampshire Sunday

Meredith Ward

Full Game Notes in PDF Format

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-7, 0-0 PL) vs. New Hampshire (3-5, 0-0 America East)
Date: December 20, 2009
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Lundholm Gynasium (3,000), Durham, N.H.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Click Here for Internet Broadcast
Unofficial Live Stats: Click Here
Series Record: Holy Cross leads,12-6
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 87, New Hampshire 60 (November 21, 2000; Worcester, Mass.)

CRUSADERS RETURN TO ACTION AGAINST NEW HAMPSHIRE: Following a 13-day break for final exams, Holy Cross returns to action when it plays on the road again against New Hampshire on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 1:00 p.m.  The Crusaders will remain on the road as they travel to West Long Branch, N.J. to partake in the Hawk Holiday Classic hosted by Monmouth on Dec. 29-30. They will play La Salle in the opening round at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29. Holy Cross will then ring in the New Year with three consecutive home games, first hosting Dartmouth on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010.

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NEW HAMPSHIRE: After not competing in the past nine seasons, Sunday's match-up marks the 19th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and New Hampshire. The series started during the 1983-1984 season, with both schools members of the ECAC conference. The teams played twice that season, with New Hampshire earning the regular season and ECAC tournament victories. The Crusaders did not pick up a win against the Wildcats until head coach Bill Gibbons took the reins, picking up his first victory, 83-67, on Jan. 9, 1988 at the Hart Center. The team continued on a five-game win streak over the next five seasons, outscoring New Hampshire 393-338. Gibbons lost his first contest against the Wildcats during the 1993-1994 season and has only lost one more match-up since then. The two squads competed annually from 1987-1988 until 2000-2001, with Holy Cross tallying a 10-2 overall record in play. Holy Cross currently holds a two-game win streak as this will be New Hampshire head coach Kristin Cole's first meeting against the Crusaders.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has played against seven of the nine teams that compete in the America East Conference. This season, Holy Cross has already played against two other America East teams, Maine and Vermont. The Crusaders took on Maine in the first round of the Dead River Classic held Nov. 27, earning a 61-59 victory and lost to Vermont at home on Dec. 7. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 27-16 record against Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Against the other six conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 25 wins and six losses throughout program history. New Hampshire has been the most frequent America East opponent for Holy Cross as they have played in 18 total match-ups against the Wildcats, earning 12 victories.

PLAYING THE WILDCATS: In all of collegiate athletics, there are 31 teams with the nickname Wildcats. Sunday's game against the New Hampshire Wildcats will mark the one and only time the Holy Cross Crusaders meet up with a Wildcats team this season. The Crusaders have played against a total of four schools out of the 31 that bear the nickname, including Arizona, Kentucky, Northwestern and Villanova. All together, the Crusaders hold a 16-10 record against those teams. New Hampshire has been the most frequent Wildcats opponent as the team holds a 12-6 record over them. Holy Cross has also posted a 2-0 record against Arizona, a 0-1 record against Kentucky, an 0-2 record against Northwestern and a 2-2 record against Villanova.

O'DELL MOVES AHEAD AMONGST PATRIOT LEAGUE CAREER LEADERS: Senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) moved one step closer to becoming the Patriot League's top performer in three-point shots made after her 2-of-4 three-point shooting performance against Vermont on Dec. 7. Her two three-point shots gives her 244 career three-point shots made, remaining in second place amongst the Patriot League career leaders for three-point shot made. She surpassed Lehigh's Sara Ellis (238) when she hit six three-point shots against Northeastern on Dec. 5 and needs just one more field goal to tie Navy's Courtney Davidson for first place all-time.

FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: JuniorWhitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) is continuing to establish herself as a valuable scorer and rebounder for the Crusaders. So far this season she has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice).  She earned a career-high 45 minute performance in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She also marked a season-high of nine rebounds against Maine on Nov. 27, two shy of her career-high. She has been the top-scorer for the team in two contests (18 at Yale and 17 at Bryant) and has also led or tied in the team in top rebounds in six of 10 performances. She is averaging 35.4 minutes played per game, which is already 16 more minutes played than her career average of 18.7 minutes. She broke up her perfect free throw percentage against Vermont on Dec. 7, but remains the team's top free throw shooter, sinking 21 of 22 attempts. In 10 games played, she leads the team in field goal percentage (40.2), field goal attempts (132) and field goals made (53). She is also the team's leading rebounder, shot-blocker and free-throw shooter, totaling 57 boards, an average of 5.4 rebounds per-game, four blocks and marking a 95.5 free-throw percentage.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) has made a major comeback and impact after she sat out her entire high school senior season with a knee injury. She has played over 10 minutes in seven of 10 contests thus far, including a season-high 34 minutes against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She also earned three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and has already tied for the team-high in rebounds in two contests (four against Boston College and five against Penn State), bringing her total rebounds to 22 in 10 contests. In all, Lepley averages 3.5 points-per-game. She leads her class in almost all categories and ranks fifth on the team in rebounds (22) and points (35).

THE WARD IMPACT: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who started the first five games for the Crusaders at point guard, was not listed as a starter in the following two contests. She returned to the starting lineup in the following three games against Harvard, Northeastern and Vermont. Coincidentally, Ward responded to the lineup change with a career-game against Maine on Nov. 27. In her 29 minutes played, Ward scored a career-high eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, tying her best field goal percentage (42.9) of the season. Two of her three field goals made came from behind the three-point line, giving her a career-high two three-point shots made. She went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, tallying her best three-point performance ever. Although she is going through a four-game scoring drought she is doubling her averages from her freshman campaign. On the season, Ward is averaging 24.2 minutes played, 3.0 points-per-game and 1.5 rebounds-per-game. She ranks second on the team with 22 assists, topping her career-high of six assists from last year and has moved into the point guard role very well for the team thus far.

MAJOR MINUTES: The team's three scoring leaders, junior Whitney Fremeau and seniors Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) and Bethany O'Dell also spend the most time on the court for the Crusaders, rightfully so. After the match-up with Vermont, McFadden moves into first on the team with an average of 35.9 minutes. Fremeau follows with an average of 35.4 minutes played while O'Dell clocks in closely behind with an average of 35.0 minutes. Most impressively, O'Dell has scored the most points in the least amount of minutes played (146 points in 350 total minutes). Fremeau has scored 130 points in 354 minutes while McFadden has 130 points in 359 minutes. The three rank fourth, sixth and seventh amongst their Patriot League opponents respectively.

BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have found a new scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot. In 10 contests, the team has attempted 182 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 178 three-point shots. In all, the team continues to improve their shooting as well, recorded a 30.8 percent three-point average, while opponents have made 30.3 percent of their attempts. Last season, Holy Cross collected 534 three-point tries next to its opponents' 597 attempts. Eight players on the 2009-2010 roster have already made a three-point shot, with senior Bethany O'Dell leading the way with a total of 29 three-pointers made.

BIG D FROM OUTSIDE: Three-point field goal defense has been a major factor for Holy Cross in its 10 contests thus far. The team has held its opponents to under 40 percent from three-point range in all 10 games, collecting a total 30.3 total three-point defense percentage on the season. In all, opponents have made just 54 three-points shots in 178 attempts. They did allow a season-high 10 three-point shots made against Northeastern on Dec. 5, marking the first time a team has sunk a double-digit number of three-point shots. Bryant was only able to drop four of its 22 attempts for Holy Cross' best defensive performance against the three, 18.2 percent. The Crusaders also held Central Connecticut (23.8) and Northeastern (29.7) to under 30 percent from three-point range while Boston College marked an opponent-high of 47.1 percent on Nov. 24.

CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 10 games this season. The team averages 71.1 percent from the line, making 143 of 201 attempts and ranking 92nd on the national front. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and Patriot League with a 95.5 free throw percentage (21-for-22). She marked career-highs with six makes in six attempts against Northeastern on Dec. 5. Senior Bethany O'Dell has gone 21-for-26 for the team's second-best performance. Senior Briana McFadden's perfect 8-for-8 free throw outing against Boston College on Nov. 24 is a Patriot League game high. As a team last year, the Crusaders made 389 of their 524 free-throws attempts. The combined percentage of 74.2 ranks first all-time for a Holy Cross team. It also ranked first in the Patriot League and 28th nationally. McFadden sank 153 of her 191 attempts to rank first on the team in free throw attempts, earning her the third spot among Holy Cross single-season records. Fellow senior O'Dell led the team with an 84.6 free-throw percentage, missing just 10 of her 65 attempts at the line.

YEAR OF THE GUARD: Six of 12 players on the 2009-2010 roster are listed as a guard, with seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell returning as starters. This year's team boasts the most experience at guard, with four seniors and another returner, sophomore Meredith Ward, owning the position. So far this season, the guards have combined to score 334 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 56 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 77 dishes.

THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 93 steals in 10 games, an average of 9.3 steals per-contest. The team stole the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high while their steals average also tops the league. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 23 steals thus far.

POUNDING THE BOARDS: One major downfall for this year's team is their ability to rebound, ranking 330th out of 332 teams in current NCAA rankings in rebounding margin. With six players listed under 6-0, bringing down boards has been a struggle. In 10 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 434-304, a margin of 13.0 boards per-game. The team started the season with its best rebounding outing, 41 against Yale, but has since decreased its numbers, pulling down a season-low 21 rebounds against No. 1 Connecticut and only 27 rebounds against Vermont. They currently average 30.4 rebounds per-game and are led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.4 rebounds per-contest.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: The Dec. 7 game marked the second home contest for Holy Cross this season, a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Holy Cross women's basketball team has a 79.6 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program. The 2009-2010 season marks the 35th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The team holds an all-time 324-98 advantage at home with the year's team dropping its first two Hart Center contests in against Northeastern and Vermont. The Crusaders posted 24 straight winning records at home from 1979-1980 through 2002-2003 and have five straight winning records going into 2009-2010. Combined, the Crusaders have won 126 of 153 meetings against this year's home opponents.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 25th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is entering a milestone 25th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program in 2009-2010. He has compiled a 479-252 record as head coach, ranking 25th on the active Division I win leaders list. His quarter-century pledge to the team has made a major impact on all aspects of the women's basketball world and especially in the surrounding community. On April 30, 2009, Gibbons received the prestigious Paul N. Johnson Award, given to a member of the Worcester community who has greatly contributed to Worcester area basketball. With his service, the name Gibbons has become a fixture in the realm of women's basketball. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 24 years as head coach. With sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt, Gibbons has cemented himself and the women's basketball program as one of the best in the East. The sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, Gibbons has enjoyed the longest tenure in the position. He has led the Holy Cross women's basketball program to more victories than any other coach, and is the winningest coach in Holy Cross Basketball history. With his 358th victory, he surpassed George Blaney (357 wins as head coach of the Holy Cross men's basketball program), who had hired him to be his assistant coach in 1981. Now with more than 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.

O'DELL AND FREMEAU NAMED TO DEAD RIVER CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Senior Bethany O'Dell and junior Whitney Fremeau were selected to the Dead River Classic All-Tournament team after their stellar performances in the two games against tournament host Maine and Penn State on Nov. 27 and 28. Holy Cross was the only school with two players selected to the five-player All-Tournament team. Maine's Kristin Baker, Buffalo's Kourtney Brown and Penn State's Alex Bentley rounded out the final three spots. Over the course of the classic, Fremeau and O'Dell combined for four double-digit scoring performances, collecting a total of 64 points. O'Dell tallied a season-high 17 points against Maine and then topped it with 19 points against Penn State. O'Dell's 19 points led all scorers on both sides of the court. Fremeau scored 14 points in each game, respectively. Fremeau brought down a season-high nine rebounds against Maine and tied for the team-high with five rebounds in the following match-up with the Lady Lions. They both played for a total of 148 minutes in two games, and average of 37 minutes per-game. Penn State's Tyra Grant took home the Dead River Classic MVP award.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: This year marks the 21st season for the team as a member of the Patriot League. Over 20 seasons, the team has played in a total of 252 league match-ups, dropping only 52 games total. Combined, Holy Cross has taken home 11 championships, while two other schools (Lehigh and Bucknell) have collected two each to follow. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 200-52 league record. The 1990-1991 and 1996-1997 squads both went undefeated in conference play. Holy Cross also boasts 11 Patriot League Players of the Year and 26 first team All-Patriot League selections, the most in the conference.

CRUSADERS PICKED IN A TIE FOR SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish in a tie for second place with American in the 2009-2010 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 76 votes. Defending Patriot League champion Lehigh was chosen as the preseason favorite to capture the league title. Lehigh received 13 first-place votes and a total of 97 points. American and Holy Cross followed in a tie for second with 76 points apiece. Filling the final five spots were Navy (fourth, 54 points), Bucknell (fifth, 52 points), Army (sixth, 50 points), Colgate (seventh, 22 points) and Lafayette (eighth, 21 points).

MCFADDEN NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: Senior guard Briana McFadden has been named preseason All-Patriot League in a vote by conference head coaches and sports information directors. Last season, McFadden earned first team All-Patriot League accolades and was also named to the conference's All-Tournament team. In other preseason poll voting a Preseason Player of the Year were selected. Lehigh junior Erica Prosser was tabbed the 2009-2010 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year and as a member of the preseason All-Patriot League Team. Prosser was the Patriot League Player of the Year in 2008-2009 and a First-Team All-Patriot League selection. Also on this year's preseason All-Patriot League squad are American junior Michelle Kirk, Army junior Erin Anthony and Lehigh senior Alex Ross.

1,000 POINT UPDATE: Senior captains Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell became just the eighth and ninth juniors to become part of the 24-member Holy Cross 1,000-point club last year. Going into the 2009-2010 season, they ranked 14th (1,195 points) and 19th (1,104 points) on the all-time scoring list respectively. In 10 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least two spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 130 total points this season, now holds the 11th spot with 1,310 career points, having jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. She needs 44 more points to rank No. 10. O'Dell, who leads the team with 146 points thus far, has now entered the 1,200-point mark with 1,250 total career points. Her last two performances of 22 and 12 points moved her past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind fellow senior captain McFadden.

RECORD CLIMBING: SeniorsBriana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell have already etched thier names into the Holy Cross single-season record books. McFadden currently ranks first with her 37.5 average minutes played during the 2008-2009 season while O'Dell holds the top three spots in three-pointers made (87, 2006-2007, 65, 2008-2009, 63, 2007-2008). O'Dell also holds the top rank in three-pointers attempted (206, 2006-2007) and is sixth in three-point percentage (42.2, 2006-2007). McFadden places third and fifth in free throws made (152, 2008-2009, 137, 2007-2008) and fifth and eighth in free throws attempted (191, 2008-2009, 169, 2007-2008). Both players are tied for sixth with 32 games started in 2007-2008. McFadden moves into fifth on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (507), fourth in three pointers made (151) and free throw percentage (79.8). O'Dell currently ranks third on the Holy Cross career records list for three-point percentage (39.4) and also ranks first all-time at Holy Cross in three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted. She is ranked in the top-100 nationally so far this season in three-point field goals per game (28th) and three-point field goal percentage (67th).

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS:
Record: 3-5, 0-0 America East
HEAD COACH: Kristin Cole is currently in her third season at the helm of the New Hampshire women's basketball team. She has compiled an 18-50 record, including a 10-22 record against America East opponents. Her 2009-2010 squad was picked to finish fourth in the conference after finishing last season in fifth place with a 6-10 mark against America East opponents. The team was picked seventh in last year's preseason poll. Under her tutelage, senior forward Candace Williams has become one of the best players in the conference, posting an average of 16.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, on her way to being named to the America East second team All-Conference. Cole came to New Hampshire from Xavier University, where she served as assistant coach from 2002-2007.

2009-2010 TEAM: After dropping a 60-48 decision against Central Connecticut on Dec. 10, the Wildcats currently sit with a 3-5 record on the young season. The squad is led by senior forward Candace Williams, who has averaged 11.9 points per game along with 6.5 rebounds. Sophomore Denise Beliveau is the overall stats leader for the team, marking 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The team has held opponents to a conference-best .326 shooting percentage from the floor this year, while shooting a .364 clip themselves.