Women's Basketball Aims For Road Win At Lehigh Saturday
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (6-15, 2-4 PL) vs. Lehigh (18-3, 5-1 PL)
Date: January 30, 2010
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Stabler Arena (3,600), Bethlehem, Pa.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1, The
Pike; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Lehigh Television: Service Electric 2 Sports, Mike Zambelli; play-by-play Jim Wills; color
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, www.all-access.cbssports.com
Series Record: Holy Cross leads,
Last Meeting: Lehigh 71, Holy Cross 60 (February 28, 2009, Bethlehem, Pa.)
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST LEHIGH: Saturday's match-up will be the 46th meeting between Holy Cross and Lehigh with the Crusaders owning a 37-8 advantage over the Mountain Hawks. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play (1990-1991), earning two back-to-back victories, a 75-55 home victory and then an 87-56 tally on the road. After compiling six consecutive wins against Lehigh from Feb. 1, 1992 until Jan. 15, 1994, the Crusaders were handed their first loss, falling 77-74 in Bethlehem, Pa. on Feb. 9, 1994. Holy Cross avenged the loss with 18 back-to-back wins over the Mountain Hawks, including a 94-68 win in the Patriot League Tournament championship game held at the Hart Center. The teams have traded wins since then, as Lehigh has won seven of the last 11 meetings, including both games from last season. Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 37-8 record while Mountain Hawk head coach, Sue Troyan, is 7-27 against the Crusaders.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2009-2010 season marks the 21st year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Since joining the league, Holy Cross has started conference play with two losses just one other time, the 2006-2007 season. After topping the Colgate Raiders 65-56 at home on Jan. 27, Crusaders now stand at 2-4 in league play, moving up one spot in the conference rankings. Over the last 20 seasons and in the six games played this season, the team has competed in a total of 258 league match-ups, dropping 56 games total for a .783 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 202-56 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 16 wins in 44 contests. Bucknell is the only other squad with over 10 wins against the Crusaders, earning 12 wins in 47 contests. Holy Cross has collected the best winning percentage (.930) against Colgate, winning 40 of 43 games played.
PLAYING THE MOUNTAIN HAWKS: There are three types of nicknames that begin with Mountain amongst all collegiate institutions and include the Mountain Hawks, the Mountain Lions and the Mountain Cats. Lehigh is the only collegiate institution that uses the nickname Mountain Hawks while there is one college (Pittsburgh-Johnstown) that bears the Mountain Cats title. Four schools call themselves the Mountain Lions and include Alliant International in California, Concord in West Virginia, Colorado-Colorado Springs and Young Harris in Georgia. Holy Cross has played two of the six schools that incorporate mountain in to its nickname; Lehigh and Alliant International. The Crusaders topped the Alliant Mountain Lions during the 1988-1989 season, winning 94-84 in California. In all, Holy Cross holds a 38-8 record against "mountain" teams.
CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: The game against Lehigh will be broadcast on the local Service Electric 2 Sports television station and marks the fifth time this season a Holy Cross game has been televised. Currently, the Crusaders stand with a record of 1-3 in televised games after falling to American on Jan. 24 at home. Two more away games will be broadcast live, including the Jan. 30 meeting with Lehigh (Service Electric) and the Feb. 6 match-up with Lafayette (Lafayette Sports Network). All Patriot League games are available for viewing over the internet through Patriot League All-Access. The package, done in association with CBS College Sports Online, is available for a monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Patriot League All-Access, visit "www.patriotleague.org".
O'DELL ON TOP: Senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) remains on top of her game despite limited playing time over the past week. After seeing a combined 46 minutes of playing time, O'Dell has continued to be an offensive threat, as she remains the team's top performer in points per game (13.5), overall points (269) and three-point field goals made (52). O'Dell also continues to rank amongst the nation's best, ranking 20th in three-point field goals percentage (44.8) and 19th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) as of Jan. 17. Her influence is now written in the Patriot League record books as she currently holds the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers (267). So far this season, O'Dell tallied a career-best performance, scoring 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting against Howard. Her 11 total field goals were 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 2009-2010, going six-for-seven beyond the arc, an 85.7 percent three-point outing. In 110 career games played, O'Dell has 267 three-point shots made.
SEASONED IMPACT: Senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) has continued to add on to her already stellar career stats so far this season, using her veteran status as a model of inspiration. After the team had lost in the prior eight consecutive contests, McFadden led the charge against Rhode Island on Jan. 5, tallying a season-high 27 points on a season-best 8-for-16 field goal performance to help achieve a much needed 80-71 victory. She also marked career-bests for three-point shooting, making five-of-seven shots beyond the arc. The game against Bucknell on Jan. 16 was the first time in McFadden's four-year career that she did not suit up for the Crusaders due to a concussion from the Army game. She has returned to the starting lineup in the last three games against Navy (Jan. 20), American (Jan. 24) and Colgate (Jan. 27), combining to score 37 points. She tallied a .550 field goal percentage during the week of Jan.17-24 and has shot at least 50 percent from the field in four of the last six games. Since coming to Holy Cross, McFadden has played in 115 contests, including 112 starts at guard. Through 21 contests so far this season, McFadden has scored in double-digits in 16 contests, including 10 of the last 13 games. McFadden averages 13.0 points per game and even after sitting out on Jan. 16, still ranks second on the team and fifth in the Patriot League in scoring. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 118 times, sinking 83 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 six contests, including the most recent 16-point performance against American. She has also made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. She currently averages 4.3 rebounds per game and is 17 rebounds away from tying her career-high of 102 rebounds in a season set last year.
FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) has fully established herself as a valuable scorer, rebounder and overall team player for the Crusaders this season, and has illustrated her importance now that Patriot League play has begun. In the six conference games so far, Fremeau averages 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, leading the team in both categories. She has also accumulated the most playing time, posting 205 minutes on the hardwood against league opponents. In all 21 games, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in 14 of 21 contests, including a six-game streak from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. She has been the team's top-scorer in three of the last four contests. Her offensive production peaked in the last meeting with Colgate, where she tied her top career-mark of 18 points after making a career-high nine field goals. She also posted the team-high of 15 points against Army (Jan. 13) and Navy (Jan. 20). She has now tied her career-high in points three times this season and has scored 251 points topping the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. Fremeau also recently set a career-high with eight assists against Bucknell on Jan. 16, topping her prior career-high of five assists. She played a career-high 45 minutes in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5 and has started every game so far this season, a streak which dates back to the Feb. 25, 2009 game against Colgate last season. She has recorded a season-high of nine rebounds three times so far including the games against Maine on Nov. 27, Dartmouth on Jan. 2 and Army on Jan. 13. Her season-high of nine rebounds is just two shy of her career-high (11 against Rhode Island on Dec. 9, 2008). She has also led or tied the team in top rebounds in 10 of 21 performances. She averages 33.8 minutes played per game, ranking fifth amongst Patriot League players. Fremeau remains the team's top free throw shooter, making 40 of 47 attempts (.851). In 21 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (250) and field goals made (102). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 111 boards, an average of 5.3 rebounds per-game.
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. She hit new heights as she recorded her first career double-double against Lafayette on Jan. 9, leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 12 points and a career and season-high 10 rebounds. With her double-double, Lepley became the only freshman in the league to reach such a feat this season and is also the only member on the 2009-2010 Holy Cross roster to score a double-double as a freshman. After 21 total games, Lepley has increasingly become the team's most versatile player. She has scored in double-digits in six contests, including 11 points against Colgate on Jan. 27. Lepley notched yet another career-high against Colgate as well, tallying a team-high six steals, which also ties senior Bethany O'Dell's top individual performance from the Northeastern game. For her continued impact and improvement, Lepley has been named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week three times, most recently after notching her first career double-double and putting up 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in games from Jan. 4-Jan. 10. She has played at least 20 minutes in 13 of the last 14 contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned 14 starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last 11 games. She has already led or tied for the team-high in rebounds in four contests (four against Boston College, five against Penn State, 10 against Lafayette and nine against Bucknell), bringing her total rebounds to 75 on the season, an average of 3.6 rebounds per game. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (117) and scoring average (5.6). She ranks third on the team with a .406 field goal percentage and is tied for first with eight blocks.
WARD IN THE CLUTCH: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has played in all 21 games, including 12 starts for the Crusaders at point guard, has turned herself into a clutch player. Ward has been the spark of two last minute rallies, bringing the game against Army on Jan. 13 down to the wire after making a crucial three-point shot and follow-up jumper to get the Crusaders within two points of the Black Knights. At Bucknell on Jan. 16, Ward again hit a last-minute shot towards the end of the first half, bringing the score to a one-point Bison lead heading in to the locker room. She finished that game with eight points, going three-of-six from the field and played a career-high 38 minutes. Her scoring continues to improve as she recently posted double-digits in the last three games, tallying 11 points in three consecutive contests against Navy (Jan. 20), American (Jan. 24) and Colgate (Jan. 27). She recorded the best free-throw performance of her career (six-of-six from the line) against Navy and then proved her defensive prowess as she led the team with seven rebounds against American, notching her career-high. She tied her career-high with three three-point shots made against Colgate as well. Ward is averaging 8.5 points against Patriot League opponents, third-best on the team. Also highlighting her sophomore season was a career-high 15-point outing against Howard, as she also tallied career-highs in field goals made (6); three-point shots made (3) and three-point shots attempted (4). She has also hit a three-point shot in eight of the last 10 contests, totaling 20 this season. She now has 18 more three-point shots made than her two three-pointers recorded last year. She has improved tri-fold in scoring as well, earning a 5.6 points per game average so far, compared to the 1.2 points she averaged last season. In 21 contests, Ward averages 26.8 minutes, a .354 field goal percentage and 1.7 rebounds.
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 on Jan. 5 (13-of-22, .591). The combined 13 three-point shots made ties the team record for a single game, set back on Jan. 29, 1996 against Providence. It also ranks second amongst Patriot League team performances this season. In 21 contests, the team has attempted 405 three-pointers, making 137 of them (.338 percent). The .338 percentage ranks second amongst Patriot League foes. Opponents have tried 386 three-point shots, making 120 of them (.311 percent). Holy Cross' three-point field goal defense percentage ranks fourth in the league. The team needs 24 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots made from the 2008-2009 season after they collected six additional three-point shots made against Colgate on Jan. 27. Over the last six contests, the team has made 31 three-point shots in 113 attempts (.274 percent) and has shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in five of the last 10 contests. 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 52 three-pointers made.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 21 games. The team has missed just one free-throw attempt in four contests this season, including their best performance against Rhode Island on Jan. 5 (17-18 total, .944). The team has continued to stay strong, making 13 of 14 free throw attempts (.929) on Jan. 27 against Colgate. Through all games so far, the Crusaders have shot more free throws then their opponents in 12 contests, winning five of those games. In all, the team averages 73.3 percent from the line, making 264 of 360 tries and ranks second in the Patriot League. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 16 contests, including seven of the last eight match-ups. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team with a free throw average of .851 percent (40-47). She marked career-highs three times with six makes against Northeastern, New Hampshire and Dartmouth. 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.
THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 176 steals in 21 games, an average of 8.4 steals per-contest. The team ranks second amongst Patriot League opponents in the steals category and is averaging 0.7 more steals than the 2008-2009 team (7.7 average). They combined to steal the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5, also marking a conference-high. They have stolen the ball over 10 times in eight contests, including 13 steals against Colgate last game, and have marked more steals then their opponents in nine games. Senior Bethany O'Dell and freshman Amy Lepley lead the team with 31 steals each thus far, ranking seventh and eighth in the league. Both have recorded six steals in a single game, marking a team high.
CHANGING THE LINE: Through 21 games so far, the Holy Cross starting lineup has changed on nine separate occasions. Two starting lineups have been used a game-high five times. The squad has used four different starting lineups over the last five games, combining for a 2-4 record. The most successful starting lineup, registering a 2-3 record, consisted of seniors Briana McFadden, Bethany O'Dell, Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.), sophomore Meredith Ward and junior Whitney Fremeau. They picked up wins against Central Connecticut and Bryant while dropping decisions to Yale, Connecticut and Boston College.
HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross is currently averaging 13.5 assists per game, ranking second in the Patriot League. On the season, the team has collected a total of 284 assists, which include senior Briana McFadden's team-high of 49 assists. The team has combined for more than 10 assists in 16 contests, including the last four meetings with Bucknell, Navy, American and Colgate. They tallied a season-high of 20 assists twice, including the two overtime games against Howard and Northeastern. The team has also either tied or led opponents in assists in nine games. McFadden currently ranks seventh with a 2.5 assist per game average amongst conference individuals.
TURNOVER TENACITY: Turning the ball over has not been a problem for the Crusaders this season, as they currently own a +1.4 turnover margin through 21 games. The margin is second-best in Patriot League ranks as the team has turned the ball over just 342 times while opponents have turned the ball over 372 times. The team is 5-6 in games where they turn the ball over less than opponents while they stand at 1-7 when they commit more turnovers. This theory proved true against American, as Holy Cross notched 13 turnovers next to American's seven turnovers, falling by the final 64-51 score. The team then marked 11 turnovers against Colgate's 19 turnovers on Jan. 27, winning by the final score of 65-56. The 11 turnovers made by the team against Colgate marked the season-low.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been the most troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. For the first time since the Dartmouth game on Jan. 2 and the third time this season, the Crusaders scored more points than their opponent in the second half, outscoring Bucknell 31-17 on Jan. 16. 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 10 of 21 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 619 points in the first half next to opponents' 667 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided and has proved detrimental for the team. Opponents currently tally a 697-597 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped second-half comeback attempts in five contests, while losing the halftime lead to Yale (66-60), Penn State (52-48), Northeastern (89-82), New Hampshire (80-72) and Howard (87-80). The Jan. 16 game against Bucknell marked the first time Holy Cross has come back from a halftime deficit to win this season. The team has also never gone in to the halftime break with a tie, as they are 1-10 after trailing at halftime and 5-5 when leading.
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, as each team brought down 32 boards apiece. The Jan. 24 game against American was also a milestone this season, as Holy Cross outrebounded the Eagles 38-36, marking the first game Holy Cross had a positive rebounding margin. With six players listed under 6-0 and no real post player, rebounding has continued to be a struggle. In 21 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 843-652, a margin of 9.1 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 six games thus far. Holy Cross has, however, posted at least 30 rebounds in right of the last nine contests and currently averages 31.0 rebounds per game. The Crusaders are led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.3 rebounds per contest.
ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center, completing its non-conference portion of the season with a 3-8 away record. Looking to improve on the road, the Crusaders played in three-consecutive road games against conference foes Army, Bucknell and Navy, posting a 1-2 record. Two more road games against Lehigh and Lafayette come next, as the Crusaders currently stand at 30-8 when playing in Bethlehem, Pa. and Easton, Pa. in program history. 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.
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 482-260 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.
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 723 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 88 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 161 dishes.
SENIOR EXPERIENCE LEADS THE WAY: The 2009-2010 women's basketball squad boasts a wealth of experience, with five seniors leading the way. The senior class includes Tayana Carper, Christy Cushnie (Vienna, Va.), Briana McFadden, Bethany O'Dell and Jessica Pearson (West Chester, Pa.). The seniors were the last class to compete in the NCAA Tournament after they won the 2007 Patriot League Championship as freshmen. That year they were seeded as a No. 16 seed and played No.1 Duke in the Greensboro region. The five players have combined for 418 games played, having won 53 games, including 37 Patriot League match-ups. The 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 squads posted the most three-pointers made in single-season team history and also marked the most three-pointers attempted. The senior class also contributed to teams that rank among the best in school history in free throws attempted, free throw percentage and most games played.
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 20 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least three spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 260 total points this season, just moved past Ann Lambiotte (1,354 career points) to take full grasp of the No. 10 spot with 1,455 career points. McFadden has also jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. O'Dell, who leads the team with 269 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,373 total career points and now holds the 11th spot, passing Ann Lambiotte. She has also moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAIN
Record: 13-7, 4-1 Patriot League
Head Coach: Sue Troyan is in her 15th season at the helm of the Lehigh women's basketball program, carrying a career record of 224-202. No other coach in Lehigh's history has won as many overall games or Patriot League contests as Troyan. She received her second Patriot League Coach of the Year honor in 2009 after she guided the team to 26 overall wins, and a Lehigh-record 12 wins against league opponents. Troyan also won her second Patriot League title in 2009, capping off a historic season in which the Mountain Hawks broke school records in wins (26), league wins (12) and home wins (17). Lehigh won its first-ever Patriot League regular season title by rolling through the league with a 12-2 record to earn the top seed in the tournament. Prior to her latest coaching endeavor, Troyan served five years as an assistant basketball coach at Lehigh and two years as the Director of Athletic Program Budgets.
2009-2010 Squad: The 2009-2010 Lehigh squad enters Saturday's game with an 18-3 record, having won five of its last six Patriot League match-ups (5-1). After losing to American in overtime on Jan. 9, the Mountain Hawks have won the last five games against Navy, Army, Colgate, Lafayette and Bucknell. They are also currently riding a 28-game home win streak. Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year Erica Prosser leads the team with a 15.1 points per game average while sophomore Emily Gratch and senior Alex Ross follow with 11.4 and 11.3 points per game respectively.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will have the school-week off before traveling to Easton, Pa., for the second meeting of the season against Lafayette on Feb. 6. The game will be held at the Kirby Sports Center with a tip time set for 1:00 p.m. The Crusaders look to avenge their 43-39 home loss from early January as they have won the last two meetings in Easton.