Women's Basketball Looks For Second Road Win At Dartmouth Sunday

Brisje Malone

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-9, 0-0 PL) vs. Dartmouth (3-8, 0-0 Ivy League)
Date: January 2, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Leede Arena (2,100), Hanover, N.H.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio, www.goholycross.com; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play
Unofficial Live Statistics: www.dartmouthsports.com/liveStats

DartmouthLive Video: www.dartmouthsports.com/liveEvents

Series Record: Dartmouth leads, 5-2
Last Meeting: Dartmouth 67, Holy Cross 62  (January 2, 2010, Worcester, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST DARTMOUTH: Sunday's match-up marks the eighth meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Dartmouth, with the Big Green owning an overall 5-2 all-time record over the Crusaders. The series became an annual event starting with the 2006-2007 season, as the last four contests are split an even 2-2 between the squads. The teams played twice over the 1978-1979 season with Dartmouth taking 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. Darmouth's head coach Chris Wielgus is 3-2 against Holy Cross in her 27 years of coaching while Crusader head coach Bill Gibbons is 2-3 in his 26 years at the helm. The Crusaders, who did not post a win in the first four meetings, have taken two of the last three meetings, falling to the Big Green, 67-62, at the Hart Center last season. The Crusaders are looking for their second win at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H. on Sunday as well, as Dartmouth owns a 2-1 record when playing on their home hardwood.

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. Dartmouth will be the third Ivy League opponent the team has faced this season, as the Crusaders opened the 2010-2011 slate with a 74-71 defeat to the hands of Yale and followed with a dominant 72-53 win over the Harvard Crimson. The squad plays against the Big Green to complete its Ivy League competition this season. Harvard and Yale have been the most frequent Ivy League teams on the Holy Cross schedule, competing against the Crusaders a combined 24 times. Dartmouth will face Holy Cross for the eighth time this season while controlling the all-time series, 5-2. Brown is the fourth and final Ivy League team Holy Cross has competed against, as the Crusaders have won all three meetings. The Crusaders have never faced Columbia, Cornell, Penn or Princeton.

ROADSERIES: Sunday's game is part of a seven-game road series that started in Smithfield, R.I. against Bryant on Dec. 19. After falling to the Bulldogs and Northeastern and then dropping both decisions to East Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T, the Crusaders now head north to Hanover, N.H.., competing against Dartmouth and looking for their second road win of the season. The team then wraps up non-conference action against UMass in Amherst, Mass., on Jan. 5. The seventh and final game in the road series sends the Crusaders to Easton, Pa., for their first Patriot League match-up against Lafayette, held on Jan. 8. On the season, Holy Cross stands at 1-6 when traveling and is averaging 51.4 points per road game. Home teams average 75.8 points and are knocking down 46.8 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 33.2 percent as the visitors. On a neutral floor, as in the Cavalier Classic, Holy Cross posted 65.0 points per game and allowed an average of 82.5 points to be scored. The squad was also out-rebounded by a margin of 15.5 points.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Sophomore starting forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) is continuing to show off her full strength and versatility on all sides of the basketball court this season. Through the 13 games played, Lepley is averaging 10.4 points, a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 43.5 percent (54-for-124) from the floor. She also leads the team with 42 assists and ties the team-high with 23 steals. She has already recorded two double-doubles this season, an 18-point, 11-rebound outing against Yale and a 13-point, 12-rebound effort in the team's first win against Quinnipiac. Her 12 rebounds against Quinnipiac were a career-high while her 17 field goal attempts against Yale were also a career-best. She tied her career-high with nine made field-goals against the Bulldogs as well. Lepley has recorded nine double-digit scoring outings this season, including two in the last three games. Her double-digit performances include; 13 points against Central Connecticut, 10 points against Maine, 10 points against Boston College, 12 points against Bryant, 13 points against East Tennessee State and 14 points against North Carolina A&T. She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in seven out of the 13 games as well. She has also led the team in points twice (against Yale and North Carolina A&T), in steals three times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks third in assists (3.2), sixth in steals (1.8), 11th in rebounds and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 28.1 minutes per game. Lepley was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team last season after playing a full season of basketball for the first time since her junior year in high school, averaging 23.7 minutes, 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Lepley also claimed six Patriot League Rookie of the Week awards. The Massachusetts native also finished the season with a 44.2 field goal percentage, a team-high, and led the team in rebounding in four contests, including a season-high 10 rebounds twice.

SMOOTH SMITH: Freshman Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) has completely emerged into her role as a starting guard for the Crusaders. On the season, Smith is averaging a team-best 12.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 36.5 percent from the floor (54 of 148). Forty-two of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, while 114 of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, as she is sinking 37.5 percent of her three-point tries. Smith reached new heights in the game against Northeastern, as she poured in a season-best 22 points, the most points a Holy Cross player has put up so far this year. She also marked season-bests with eight field goals made, including six treys which ranks third amongst the program's single-game records. She has also posted double-figures in the last four games. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in six out of the 13 games played thus far, including her 16 points scored against East Tennessee State at the Cavalier Classic. She has notched nine double-digit scoring affairs in all (12 vs. UConn, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 14 vs. Harvard, 15 vs. Central Connecticut, 21 vs. Maine, 14 vs. Bryant and 22 vs. Northeastern, 16 vs. East Tennessee State and 10 vs. North Carolina A&T). According to last week's rankings, Smith ranks 27th in the nation in three-pointers made per game, which is now 3.2. She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is also ninth in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in scoring average amidst league leaders. She also has two Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors under her belt (11/29 and 12/6), named AT&T Crusader of the Week on Dec. 20 and most recently voted to the Cavalier Classic's All-Tournament Team. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (ninth), steals (sixth) and minutes played (fifth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 31.8 minutes. Her 23 total steals also tie the team-high.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Senior forward Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) continues to be one of the team's biggest offensive threats and defensive presences so far this season. Currently, Fremeau ranks second on the team with a 12.2 points per game average, adds 3.6 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (66-for-169 from the floor). She poured in a career-high 20 points in the team's 72-60 win over Quinnipiac on Nov. 17, finishing the game making seven of her 17 field goal attempts, both season-highs. Her 20 points bested her previous career-high of 18 points, which she collected four times over her career. Fremeau attempted a season-high of 17 field goal attempts again, making five, against North Carolina A&T the last time out. She has posted a total of nine double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last three games. Her double-digit outings comprise of; 13 vs. Yale, 20 at Quinnipiac, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 15 vs. Harvard, 13 vs. Maine, 16 vs. Boston College, 19 vs. Northeastern, 10 vs. East Tennessee State and 10 vs. North Carolina A&T. She has led or tied the team in scoring three times as well. Fremeau currently ranks 11th amongst Patriot League individuals with her 12.2 scoring average after combining for 20 points in the last two games. She also averages 30.5 minutes per game (ninth in the league) and is shooting 39.1 percent from the floor (12th in the league). Her 2.9 assists per game ranks fifth in the league as she has a total of 38 assists thus far. She collected seven assists against Yale in the season opener, one shy of her career-high set against Bucknell on Jan. 16, 2010.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 13 games played so far this season, the five-member freshman class is showing why head coach Bill Gibbons has so much faith in their immediate impact on the program. So far, the newcomers have scored 345 of the team's 816 total points, are bringing down 146 out of 446 rebounds and have added 63 of the 216 assists and 51 of the 118 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds per game and have made 112 of their 316 field goal attempts (35.4 percent).

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who began the season as the team's sixth-man off the bench, moved in to the starting role at guard against New Hampshire on Nov. 23. Ward is now the team's third starting guard, averaging 7.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 34.6 percent from the floor (27-for-78) on the season. In her second consecutive start against Harvard, Ward broke out for a career-best 17-point outing, sinking seven of her 11 field goal attempts. Her seven field goals made were a career-high as she also posted six assists, a season-best. Ward now has five double-digit scoring outings in 13 games played (14 vs. Quinnipiac, 10 at Fordham, 11 vs. New Hampshire, 17 vs. Harvard and 12 vs. East Tennessee State). In the first day of action at the Cavalier Classic, Ward attempted a season and career-high with 12 field goal attempts against East Tennessee State, making four of them. She is extremely calm and collected at the free throw line this season as well, as she has made 35 free throws in 37 attempts (94.6 percent) including a perfect 12-for-12 performance at Quinnipiac. The 12 free throw performance set a new single-game record for the program. Her free throw percentage is amidst the nation's best, as she ranks seventh amongst all NCAA leaders as of last week. She also ranks first amongst Patriot League leaders. In all, Ward has led the squad in scoring twice (Fordham, Harvard) and has led or tied the team in assists six times (Harvard, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Bryant, Northeastern and North Carolina A&T). She has a total of 37 assists this season, averaging 2.8 per game, which also ranks sixth amongst Patriot League leaders.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING: With no player on the roster listed taller than 6-1, the Holy Cross women's basketball team knew that height may be a challenge in terms of team defense. However, the Crusaders showed that height has not been an issue in almost all of the games played thus far. They pounded Yale on the boards in the first game of the season, collecting 40 rebounds next to the Bulldogs' 28 and then picked up a 51-45 rebounding edge against Quinnipiac, who had four of its five starters listed over 5-8. Its 51 rebounds were a team-high so far this season. Holy Cross also topped Harvard with a 44-34 rebound advantage, out-rebounded Central Connecticut 45-41 and Northeastern 29-28. To date, the team has 446 rebounds, including 158 offensive and 288 defensive boards. As a team, Holy Cross ranks sixth amongst Patriot League leaders with its average of 12.2 offensive boards per game. Sophomore Amy Lepley leads all rebounders with 72 rebounds (21 offensive, 51 defensive) while the team as a whole has 69 rebounds. Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) leads the team with 22 offensive rebounds and eight blocks. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and ranks 13th amongst Patriot League players with 0.6 blocks-per-game. Opponents have tallied 511 rebounds, including 164 offensive and 347 defensive. The squad has been out-rebounded by Connecticut (48-16), Fordham (45-29), New Hampshire (39-36), Maine (33-32), Boston College (36-29), Bryant (39-31), East Tennessee State (44-35) and North Carolina A&T (52-30).

STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: So far this season, a number of Holy Cross team and player performances have been at the top of the league's individual player and team game-highs. Meredith Ward's 12-for-12 free throw performance against Quinnipiac is an individual best, while Alex Smith's 14 three-point shot attempts against Maine and six three-pointers made against Northeastern are also a high. Smith has also tallied the third-highest number of steals (five against New Hampshire and Bryant). As a squad, the Crusaders have collected team-highs with 26 total assists versus Maine and rank second with 16 steals against New Hampshire. They rank second in conference team-highs with 28 free throws made against New Hampshire and 11 three-point field goals made against Northeastern.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 26th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 26th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 30th as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2010-2011. He has compiled a 480-254 record as head coach (65.4 winning percentage), including a 4-9 record at the helm this season. Her ranks 28th on the active Division I win leaders list as well. 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. 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 FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth in the 2010-2011 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 42 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving nine first-place votes as senior forward Michelle Kirk was also voted Preseason Player of the Year. The Eagles earned a league-high 93 points and was followed closely behind by reigning Patriot League Champion, Lehigh, who received seven first place votes and 91 points. Navy was picked third with 70 points, while Army (59 points) and Holy Cross (42) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Colgate and Lafayette tied for sixth place with 40 votes and Bucknell wrapped up the standings in eighth place with 31 points.

FREMEAU, MAY AND WARD NAMED 2010-2011 TEAM CAPTAINS: Fremeau, senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) and Ward were named captains for the 2010-2011 season. Fremeau topped the team in rebounding last year, ranking 10th in the league as well with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game. She is also a threat not only on defense but on offense as well as she also posted a 12.3 scoring average, ranking seventh amongst league individuals and third on the team last season. She was named to the second team All-Patriot League for her efforts. May is the veteran starting in the backcourt, as she returns as the team's best defensive player. As a junior, she averaged 22.1 minutes, 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Her 4.1 rebound average was second highest on the team. Ward is also listed among the veterans in the backcourt, as she moves from the point guard position to the shooting guard in her junior season. Ward saw action in all 31 games last season, averaging 26.8 minutes, 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. She ranked second on the team and ninth in the Patriot League with 72 assists, averaging 2.3 assists per game. Combined, the three scored 661 out of the 899 points posted by the team's returning letterwinners. They also pulled down 348 out of the 502 rebounds collected by this year's returners. Through the 13 games of action, the captains have put up 316 points, 138 rebounds and 101 assists.

WELCOME TO WORCESTER: There are two new faces handling front office duties for the 2010-2011 Crusader basketball squad, assistant coaches Chante Bonds and Kristin Drabyn. Bonds spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Fairleigh Dickinson University women's basketball team. In addition to her assistant coaching responsibilities at FDU, Bonds scheduled the team's travel arrangements, worked with the strength and conditioning program and recruited on the east coast and Canada. She was a four-year letter winner on the Bentley women's basketball team, graduating in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Informational Design and Corporate Communication. Drabyn spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Texas Tech. While at Texas Tech, Drabyn assisted in the everyday operations of the women's basketball program, including serving as the video coordinator. Drabyn was also a four-year member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County women's basketball team. She graduated as the school's all-time record holder in free throw percentage (90%) and in made three pointers (169). She co-captained the squad as a senior and was an All-Conference selection in 2008. In 2007, UMBC was the America East Tournament champions, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Drabyn was also named the America East Sportsmanship winner in 2007. A 2008 graduate of UMBC with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Communications and Exercise Physiology, Drabyn earned her Master's degree in Sports Management from Texas Tech in 2010.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2010-2011 season is the first instance under Gibbons' tutelage that a player on the roster has not participated in the NCAA Tournament. The last time a Holy Cross team made the NCAA Tournament was at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Holy Cross has played in the Big Dance 12 times, posting a 1-12 all-time record. It received a team-best seventh seeding in 1985 and played as the 16th seed in its last appearance, 2007. The Crusaders have also participated in the WNIT, playing in the 2002 season.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: Despite its preseason ranking, the Holy Cross women's basketball team has its eyes set back on the top spot amongst the Patriot League's eight teams. Since its inaugural season back in 1991, the team has posted 237 league victories and just 63 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. The team was seeded fifth in the tournament last season, a program low, but proved that it could not be counted out, topping Army, 57-53 in the quarterfinal round before falling to the 2010 champion, Lehigh, in the semifinals. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 41-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 43-8 record against Lafayette. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 24 of the 63 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 11 wins against Holy Cross as well. 

RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES: Fordham, a former Patriot League foe, Massachusetts, an in-state rival, and Quinnipiac reenter the Crusaders' slate this season. The Crusaders and Rams have played in a total 38 contests, dating back to the 1983 season. Holy Cross holds the 31-7 all-time edge over Fordham, falling to the Rams on Nov. 20. Massachusetts and Holy Cross have faced off 16 times in program history and will vie for the lead in the all-time series as it is tied at 8-8. The Minutewomen own a three game win-streak against Holy Cross, however, winning the last meeting 77-46 in 2007. The Crusaders also topped Quinnipiac on Nov. 17, taking a 3-2 edge in the all-time series. 

AND STARTING NEW ONES: Holy Cross also faced two brand new opponents this season, East Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T at the Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia. Against their new rivals, the Crusaders fell in both match-ups, first to East Tennessee State, 90-68, and then to North Carolina A&T, 75-62. Last season, ETSU boasted an overall record of 23-9 last season and an 18-2 Atlantic Sun record. North Carolina A&T went 23-11 overall, but was also dominant in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finishing with a 14-2 league record. 

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the second round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released last week. Currently, the Crusaders rank 33rd in assists per game (16.2), 96th in assist/turnover ratio (0.82) and 197th in scoring offense. Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 27th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) and 139th in three-point percentage (34.1). Lastly, Meredith Ward ranks seventh on the national scene with her 96.3 free throw percentage.

NEXTUP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will complete non-conference action with a trip to nearby Amherst, Mass. The squad will play UMass for the first time since the 2006-2007 season on Wednesday, Jan. 5. The game will be start at 7:00 p.m. at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center. The Minutewomen currently stand at 3-10 on the 2010-2011 season and will play at Harvard on Jan. 2 before hosting the Crusaders.

3-8 (0-0 Ivy League)

HEAD COACH: Entering her 25th year at the helm, Dartmouth head coach Chris Wielgus has not fallen out of step, recently leading the Big Green to four of the last six Ivy League Championships (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009) and five straight postseason appearances from 2005-2009. Wielgus is entering her 26th season and 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, amassing a record of 374-277 in 25 seasons. Including her two years as a head coach with Fordham, Wielgus sports a 414-306 overall record, including her three wins and eight losses this season as head coach.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Big Green stand at 3-8 so far this year, opening up with four straight losses against Northwestern (66-37), New Hampshire (65-52), Boston College (87-61) and Marist (77-46). The squad rallied for three straight wins over Vermont (66-51), Bryant (75-72) and Northeastern (60-54) but has lost its last four games against Hartford (74-43), Oakland (65-52), Michigan State (88-33) and Kansas (69-48). Dartmouth will play in one more tournament game against Wagner before playing Holy Cross. Senior forward Brittney Smith, who has been out of the lineup recently, leads the team with 13.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, while hitting 48.6 percent (36 of 74) of her field goals and 50.0 percent (20 of 40) of her free throws. Sophomore guard Faziah Steen has averaged 9.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, while freshman guard Nicola Zimmer has added 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest. Dartmouth is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 11-17, placing fifth in the Ivy League with a 6-8 mark in league games.