Women's Basketball Gears Up For Start Of Patriot League Action

Tayana Carper

Full Game Notes In PDF Format 

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-11, 0-0 PL) vs. Lafayette (2-12, 0-0 PL)
Date: January 9, 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Dick Lutsk
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, all-access.cbssports.com

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 42-7
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 82, Lafayette 64 (February 7, 2009, Worcester, Mass.) 

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST LAFAYETTE: Saturday's match-up marks a milestone 50th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Lafayette, with the Crusaders owning a 42-7 advantage over the Leopards. The teams first met as non-Patriot League opponents during the 1986-1987 season at the Rhode Island Tournament. It was in that game the head coach Bill Gibbons earned his first of 42 victories against the Leopards, winning by a score of 73-67. Both teams became members of the Patriot League during the 1990-1991 season and have met at least two times annually since then. Holy Cross took the first Patriot League win over Lafayette, 92-68, on Jan. 10, 1991. The Crusaders earned 11 consecutive victories over the Leopards from the 1992-1993 season until March 2, 1997 when the Leopards upset the No.1-seeded Holy Cross in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament, 76-60. Holy Cross then went on to win 19 successive contests from 1999-2000 until the 2006-2007 season. The Leopards clawed back for two back-to-back series victories on Feb. 4, 2006 and Jan. 6, 2007, but Holy Cross holds the upper hand currently, collecting a six-game win streak dating back to Feb. 3, 2007. The Crusaders also dominate at the Hart Center, having lost just one match-up in 24 total home competitions. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2009-2010 season marks the 21st year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Over the last 20 seasons, the team has played in a total of 252 league match-ups, dropping only 52 games total, a .810 winning percentage. 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. The Crusaders have been the most successful against American, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy. In all, Holy Cross has collected winning records amongst every Patriot League opponent. Army has tallied the most wins against the Crusaders, picking up 15 wins in 43 contests. Bucknell is the only other squad with over 10 wins against the Crusaders, earning 12 wins in 46 contests.

PLAYING THE LEOPARDS: There are only three colleges with the nickname Leopards. Wentworth Institute in Boston, Mass. and LaVerne in LaVerne, Calif. are the two other schools that bear the Leopard mascot. Lafayette is the only school Holy Cross has faced out of the three with a Leopards nickname. All together, the Crusaders hold a 42-7 record against a Leopards squad. 

STOPPING THE SLIDE: The 80-71 victory over Rhode Island on Jan. 5 was a major uplift for the Crusaders, who had lost the prior eight games. The eight game slide was the worst for the team since becoming a Division I competitor, as it was also the worst losing streak head coach Bill Gibbons had ever encountered. The only other team to lose more games in a row was the first-ever women's basketball team in Holy Cross history. The squad, who played as a Division III institution, lost all 12 of their games in the 1974-1975 season. The second-worst losing streak came during the 1979-1980 season under head coach Kevin McAuley. That year's team dropped nine straight game before going on to win seven of the final nine game played. The 1979-1980 team finished with an overall record of 9-12.

O'DELL ON TOP: In just a matter of 30 seconds, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) made two consecutive three-point shots took hold of the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers against New Hampshire on Dec. 20, 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 did not make a three-point shot for the first time in 11 consecutive contests. Most impressively, the Monmouth game was just the ninth time in O'Dell's 107 career games played that a three-point shot did not fall for her. O'Dell's double-digit scoring drought did not last long. In the overtime game against Howard O'Dell returned with a career-best performance, scoring 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Her 11 total field goals were also a career-high and included five three-point shots. In the following game against Rhode Island, O'Dell tallied her best three-point performance of the season, going six-for-seven beyond the arc, a 85.7 percent three-point outing. She now has 48 three-point shots made so far this season and 263 on her career. O'Dell is a clear team leader in her senior season as she leads the team with a 15.6 points per game average, topping out in points (234), field goal percentage (45.3) and field goals made (81). O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 16th in three-point field goals per game (3.0) as of Jan. 4.

QUIET IMPACT MAKES NOISE: Senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.)  finally got the big break she was yearning for in the game against Rhode Island on Jan. 5. In the game, McFadden tallied a season-high 27 points on a season-best 8-for-16 field goal performance. She also marked her best three-point shooting performance, making five-of-seven shots beyond the arc. Her five three-point shots made tied her career high, which she tallied against Lafayette in February last season. Through the 15 contests so far, McFadden has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 13 of 15 contests and playing in the most minutes for the Crusaders. She averages 13.6 points-per-game, which ranks second on the team and fifth in the Patriot League. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 95 times, sinking 69 shots. Her perfect six-of-six free throw outing against Rhode Island was the fifth time this season and 33rd time in her career that she has made every one of her free throw attempts. McFadden has led or tied for the team's top scoring performance in five contests and has made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. Her 27 offensive and 39 defensive rebounds rank second among the team.

 

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 11 of 14 contests, including a six-game streak from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 182 points, just 61 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. She played a career-high 45 minutes in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She has marked a season-high of nine rebounds twice this season, against Maine on Nov. 27 and then again versus Dartmouth on Jan. 2. Her season-high of nine rebounds is just two shy of her career-high (11 against Rhode Island on Dec. 9, 2008). 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 the team in top rebounds in eight of 15 performances. She is averaging 33.7 minutes played per game, which is already 15 more minutes played than her career average of 18.7 minutes and has started in every contest so far. She broke up her perfect free throw percentage against Vermont on Dec. 7, but remains the team's top free throw shooter, sinking 36 of 40 attempts. In 15 games played, she tied for the team lead in field goal attempts (179) and is second in field goals made (71). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 80 boards, an average of 5.3 rebounds per-game and seven blocks.

 

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) has come a long way after sitting out her entire high school senior season with a knee injury. On Jan. 2, Lepley poured in a season and career-high 13 points on six-for-seven shooting against Dartmouth, leading the team in scoring for the first time this season. After 15 total games, Lepley has increasingly become the team's most versatile player so far this season. She has scored in double-digits in four contests and has at least one rebound in the last 14 contests, bringing down a season-high six rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. For her continued impact and improvement, Lepley was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week for the second time in three weeks on Jan. 4 after averaging 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in three contests against La Salle, Howard and Dartmouth. She has played at least 20 minutes in the last eight contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned eight starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last five games. 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 64 in 15 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (84) and scoring average (5.6). She ranks second on the team with a 45.5 three-point field goal percentage and has made at least one three-point shot in the last six contests. 

MOTIVATING WARD: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has played in all 15 games, including eight starts, for the Crusaders at point guard, uses an interesting method as motivation. When not listed as a starter, Ward responds with top career performances. In the Hawk Holiday Classic, Ward scored a season-high nine points against La Salle 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) and tied her career-high of 34 minutes played. Against Dartmouth, Ward kept up her solid play, going three-for-seven from the field for nine points. She has currently hit a three-point shot in the last four contests, totaling 11 this season, which is nine more than her two three-point shots from the entire 2008-2009 season. In 15 contests, Ward is averaging 24.8 minutes, 4.6 points-per-game and 1.4 rebounds-per-game. She ranks first on the team with 35 assists, topping her six assists from all of last year.

OFFENSE COMES ALIVE: The Holy Cross women's basketball team, who came into the Jan. 5 contest against Rhode Island averaging under 60 points per-game and a 36.5 percent field goal average, combined all forces to put forth its best offensive performance of the season. After 40 minutes of play, the team came away with its best overall field goal performance of the season, making 51 percent of its shots, second-highest among all Patriot League teams this season. The team also marked its top three-point performance, 13 of 22 three-point shots (59 percent). Its 13 three-point shots made now lead the league in team highs. The Crusaders added a 17-of-18 free throw outing (94 percent), another season-high.

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 35.9 minutes. O'Dell follows with an average of 34.9 minutes played while Fremeau clocks in behind with an average of 33.7 minutes. O'Dell has scored the most points in the amount of minutes played (234 points in 523 total minutes). Fremeau has scored 182 points in 505 minutes while McFadden has 204 points in 538 minutes. The three rank seventh, third and sixth amongst their Patriot League opponents in minutes played respectively. 

BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have capitalized on their biggest scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot, after marking their best performance against Rhode Island. In 15 contests, the team has attempted 286 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 264 three-point shots. The team needs 57 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots madefrom the 2008-2009 season after recording 13 three-point shots against the Rams. In all, the team continues to improve their shooting as well, recording a 36.4 percent three-point average. In the last four contests, the Crusaders have shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc, including a season-high 59 percent performance against Rhode Island. 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 48 three-pointers made. 

CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 15 games this season and registered their best performance against Rhode Island, missing just one free throw attempt (17-18 total) The team averages 71.7 percent from the line, making 200 of 279 attempts. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 11 contests. The team did hit a rough patch, marking a season-low eight-for-15 (53.3 percent) free throws on Dec. 29 against La Salle but has quickly recovered. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and is second in the Patriot League with a free throw average of 90 percent. She marked career-highs twice with six makes against Northeastern and New Hampshire. Senior Briana McFadden's perfect eight-for-eight 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 the position, with four seniors and another returner, sophomore Meredith Ward, owning the role. So far this season, the guards have combined to score 556 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 69 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 116 dishes.

THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 127 steals in 14 games, an average of 8.5 steals per-contest, which ranks third amongst Patriot League opponents. The team stole the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 28 steals thus far, third highest in the league. 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 nine of 15 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 455 points in the first half next to opponents' 493 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided, with opponents tallying a 526-430 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped second-half comeback attempts in four 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). The team also has scoring trouble when playing in overtime games, getting outscored 41-27, resulting in two overtime losses (against Northeastern and Howard).

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has played in just four home games so far this season, earning their first win on Jan. 5 after dropping the three prior home contests. In program history, however, the Hart Center has traditionally been a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Holy Cross women's basketball team has a 79.4 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 325-99 advantage at home. 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 154 meetings against this year's home opponents.

ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center. The team completes the first half of the season with a 3-8 record away from their home court.  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 the 2009-2010 squad is the ability to rebound. The Jan. 2 contest against Dartmouth marked the first time this season that the team has not been outrebounded, with each team bringing down 32 boards apiece. With six players listed under 6-0, rebounding has been a struggle. In 15 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 608-451, a margin of 9.9 boards per game. The team started the season with its best rebounding outing, 41 against Yale, but then 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 thus far. The team has, however, posted at least 30 rebounds in the last three contests and currently averages 30.1 rebounds per game. Holy Cross is led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.3 rebounds per contest. 

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 480-256 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.

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 204 total points this season, just moved past Ann Lambiotte (1,354 career points) to take full grasp of the No. 10 spot with 1,399 career points, McFadden has also jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. O'Dell, who leads the team with 234 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,338 total career points. She has moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind Ann Lambiotte. She needs 16 points to take hole of the 11th spot. 

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 ranks third on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (515) and fourth in three pointers made (162), one behind Anna Kinne's 163. 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 LEOPARDS:
Record: 2-12, 0-0 Patriot League
Head Coach: Lafayette head coach Tammy Smith is in her ninth season at the helm of the women's basketball program. Since becoming a Division I coach, Smith has collected an overall record of 55-204. She has been a head coach for 15 complete seasons, recording 168 wins and 172 losses in all. She led her squad to a historic run in the Patriot League Tournament last season, earning a bid to the conference championship after entering the tournament as a No. 7 seed. Prior to Lafayette, Smith was the head coach at Muhlenberg, a Division III school. She compiled a record of 113-68 in her tenure, leading the team to five straight Centennial Conference East Division championship appearances.

2009-2010 Squad: This year's Lafayette team enters Saturday's game with a 2-12 record. The team started the 2009-2010 season with a 1-1 record, topping Monmouth and falling to St. Peter's. Five consecutive losses followed, as the Leopards fell to Fairfield, Bryant, St. Bonaventure, Liberty and Mount St. Mary's. The team picked up its second victory at Penn, 62-56, but has again fallen in the last six games. They most recently fell to Iowa State on Jan. 3, 67-25. The team returns 11 players, including two starters from last season. Junior guard Lauren Jackson leads the team with 12.4 points per game while senior forward LaKeisha Wright leads the defense with 3.9 rebounds per game and also averages 11.2 points per game. All 13 players listed on the 2009-2010 roster have seen action so far this season.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross continues Patriot League play with a trip to West Point, N.Y. to take on the Army Black Knights. The game will be held at the Christl Arena beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 13. Army currently holds a two-game win streak against the Crusaders.