Women's Basketball Begins Three Game Home Stand Against Dartmouth

Christy Cushnie

Full Game Notes in PDF Format

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-10, 0-0 PL) vs. Dartmouth (3-8, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: January 2, 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Live Video Streaming: Crusader Vision, www.goholycross.com
Series Record: Dartmouth leads, 4-2
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 57, Dartmouth 45 (January 4, 2009, Hanover, N.H.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST DARTMOUTH: Saturday's match-up marks the seventh meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Dartmouth. The series has become an annual event since the 2006-2007 season with Holy Cross holding a slight 2-1 edge. The teams played twice over the 1978-1979 season with the Big Green notching the first two series victories. No games were played again until Nov. 22, 2005 when Dartmouth took a 68-44 road win from the Crusaders. The two head coaches, Chris Wielgus of Dartmouth and Bill Gibbons from Holy Cross, have each won two games since taking over the reins of their respective programs, a combined 50 years of head coaching experience.  The Crusaders, who did not post a win in the first four meetings, have taken the last two. Last year Holy Cross held the Big Green to its least amount of points, winning 57-45 in Hanover, N.H. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE IVY LEAGUE: In program history, Holy Cross has played against four of the eight teams that compete in the Ivy League. In all, the Crusaders have won 16 of the 28 match-ups against Ivy League opponents. Harvard and Yale have been the most frequent Ivy League teams on the Holy Cross schedule, competing against the Crusaders a combined 21 times. Holy Cross has already played against Yale and Harvard this year, falling in both meetings. Against all Ivy League teams, Holy Cross has never lost to Brown (3-0) and also boasts winning records against Yale (6-5) and Harvard (6-5). Dartmouth has caused the most trouble for the Crusaders, winning four of the six contests all-time. 

O'DELL ON TOP: In just a matter of 30 seconds, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) took hold of the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers against New Hampshire. With a little under five minutes of play in the first half, O'Dell hit two-consecutive three-point shots to earn her 245th and 246th career three-point shots, moving her into the top spot past Navy's Courtney Davidson (2000-2004). On the season, O'Dell has scored in double figures, as well as knocking down a three-point shot, in all but one game. The Dec. 29 meeting with Monmouth was a rare occurrence as O'Dell posted just six points on three-for-seven shooting. The drought did not last long however, as she returned the following day with a career-best performance, scoring 28 points on 11-for18 shooting. Her 11 total field goals were also a career-high and included five three-point shots to give her 255 career three-point field goals. She now has 40 three-point shots so far this season and leads the team with a 15.4 points per game average.  O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 16th in three-point field goals per game (3.2) as of Dec. 20. 

FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) is continuing to establish herself as a valuable scorer and rebounder for the Crusaders. So far this season, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in 10 of 13 contests, including the last eight games. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 170 points, just 73 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. 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 13 performances. She is averaging 34.2 minutes played per game, which is already 15 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, as well as second-best performer in the Patriot League, sinking 28 of 32 attempts. In 11 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (164). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 66 boards, an average of 5.1 rebounds per-game and five blocks.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) has made a major comeback after sitting out her entire high school senior season with a knee injury.  For her continued impact and improvement, Lepley was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week for the week of Dec. 14-20 after pouring in a season-high 12 points against New Hampshire on Dec. 20. She has increasingly become the team's most versatile player so far this season. She has scored in double-digits in three contests as she also has at least one rebound in the last 12 contests. She has played at least 20 minutes in the last six contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard on Dec. 30. She also earned six starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again against New Hampshire, La Salle and Howard. She 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 32 in 13 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (62) and scoring average (4.5). She ranks second on the team with a 44.4 three-point field goal percentage and has made at least one three-point shot in the last four contests. She is first on the team in blocks (5) also third on the team and second in steals (17).

QUIET IMPACT: While senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) hasn't put up top numbers so far this season, her statistics are nothing to dismiss. She has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 11 of 13 contests and playing in the most minutes for the Crusaders. She averages 12.8 points-per-game, which ranks second on the team and 7th in the Patriot League. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 88 times, sinking 62 shots. She also remains a valuable team player, dishing out a team-high 33 assists (2.5 per game). Her assists average ranks eighth in the league. She has led or tied for the team's top scoring performance in four contests and has made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. Her 26 offensive and 33 defensive rebounds rank second among the team as well.

MOTIVATING WARD: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has earned starts in eight games for the Crusaders at point guard, uses an interesting method as motivation. When not listed as a starter, Ward responds with career-best performances. In the Hawk Holiday Classic, Ward scored a season-high nine points and then bested that performance with a 15 point outing against Howard, marking her career-high. She also tallied career-highs in field goals made (6), three-point shots made (3) and three-point shots attempted (4). She also tied her career-high of 34 minutes played against Howard.  On the season, Ward is averaging 23.9 minutes, 4.2 points-per-game and 1.3 rebounds-per-game. She ranks second on the team with 28 assists, topping her career-high of six assists from last year.

MAJOR MINUTES: The team's three scoring leaders, junior Whitney Fremeau and seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell also spend the most time on the court for the Crusaders, rightfully so. McFadden is first on the team with an average of 35.7 minutes. O'Dell follows with an average of 35.2 minutes played while Fremeau clocks in closely behind with an average of 34.2 minutes. O'Dell has scored the most points in the amount of minutes played (200 points in 458 total minutes). Fremeau has scored 166 points in 444 minutes while McFadden has 167 points in 466 minutes. The three rank fourth, seventh and eighth amongst their Patriot League opponents respectively. 

BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have found a new scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot. In 13 contests, the team has attempted 243 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 230 three-point shots. In all, the team continues to improve their shooting as well, recorded a 34.2 percent three-point average, including a season-high 50 percent three-point shot performance against New Hampshire. 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 40 three-pointers made.  

BIG D FROM OUTSIDE: Three-point field goal defense has been a major factor for Holy Cross in its 13 contests thus far. The team has held its opponents to under 40 percent from three-point range in all 11 of 13 games, collecting a total 32.2 total three-point defense percentage on the season. In all, opponents have made just 74 three-points shots in 230 attempts. The Crusaders 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. The team then returned to form against New Hampshire, allowing just five of 17 three-point shots to fall. 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.

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 462 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 61 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 98 dishes.

THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 109 steals in 13 games, an average of 8.4 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 ranks second in the league. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 24 steals thus far and her six-steal performance against Northeastern ranks second amongst the league's individual highs.

TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. While opponents outscore Holy Cross in both halves, the team has kept opponents within nine points in the first 20 minutes, taking a lead into the halftime in eight of 13 match-ups.  In all, Holy Cross has scored 386 points in the first half next to opponents 422 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided, with opponents tallying a 459-357 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped the comeback attempts in three contests, while losing the lead to Yale (66-60), Penn State (52-48), Northeastern (89-82), New Hampshire (80-72) and most recently Howard (87-80).

ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center, wrapping up against Harvard and continuing with a trip to Durham, N.H. and to New Jersey for the Hawk Holiday Classic on Dec. 29-30. The team completes the first half of the season with a 3-8 record away from the Hart Center.  The team hosted Connecticut at the DCU Center on Nov. 20, and will host three straight home-contests at the Hart Center from Jan. 2-9. The last time a team began the season with so many away games was the 1991-1992 season when the team played in six road contests. The squad went 3-3 in those contests and finished the season with a 16-13 overall record.

POUNDING THE BOARDS: One major downfall for this year's team is the ability to rebound, ranking 330th out of 332 NCAA teams in current rebounding margin. With six players listed under 6-0, bringing down boards has been a struggle. In 13 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 542-389, a margin of 11.8 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. The team has brought down fewer than 30 rebounds in five games. They currently average 29.9 rebounds per-game and are led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.1 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 479-255 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. 

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).

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 167 total points this season, now holds the 11th spot with 1,322 career points, having jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. She needs 17 more points to rank No. 10. O'Dell, who leads the team with 200 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,304 total career points. She has moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind fellow senior captain McFadden. 

RECORD CLIMBING: Seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell have already etched their 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 a tie for second on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (521) and fourth in three pointers made (153). 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, continuing to pull ahead. 

SCOUTING THE BIG GREEN:
Record: 3-8, 0-0 Ivy League

Head Coach: Dartmouth head coach Chris Wielgus is in his 25th season at the helm of the Big Green women's basketball program. He has recorded 403 wins and 289 losses in her head coaching career, including a 3-8 record so far this season. Last year her team went 18-11, including a 13-1 Ivy League record and championship. She has recently led the Big Green to four of the last five Ivy League Championships (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009) and five straight postseason appearances since 2005.Wielgus is in her second stint (1976-84, 1993-present) as the head coach of the program she built from the ground up, also coaching the first Dartmouth team that competed in the Ivy League in 1976. She is the winningest coach in the illustrious history of Dartmouth College.

2009-2010 Squad: This year's Big Green enter Saturday's game with a 3-8 record. The team has earned victories against Bryant, Delaware State and Stony Brook. The squad has lost to Temple, Hartford, Vermont, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Southern California, Rhode Island and Dayton. They lost their last two match-ups. The team returns three starters from last season and welcomes four freshmen. Junior forward Brittney Smith leads the team in both scoring and rebounding categories, averaging 11.1 points-per-game along with 9.8 rebounds per-game. Freshman guard Faziah Steen follows with 8.2 points-per-game. All 12 players on the roster have seen action so far this season for Dartmouth.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross continues its three-game home stand with a final non-conference match against Rhode Island. The game will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. Tip time is set for 7:00 p.m.