Crusaders Round Out First League Home Stand Against Navy On Wednesday

Kaitlin Cole

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (6-12, 2-1 PL) vs. Navy (10-7, 3-0 PL)
Date: January 19, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

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Series Record:
Holy Cross leads, 37-7
Last Meeting: Navy 77, Holy Cross 69 (February 17, 2010, Worcester, Mass.) 

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NAVY: Wednesday's match-up will be the 45th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Navy, with the Crusaders owning a 37-7 advantage over the Midshipmen. The teams first met during the 1992-1993 season, as the Crusaders won 75-62 in Annapolis, Md. Holy Cross continued to win the next seven meetings, outscoring Navy 555-503. The Crusaders compiled their largest win streak of 11 games against the Mids from Feb. 22, 2004 until March 8, 2008 after winning 10 straight from Feb. 9, 1999-Feb. 23, 2003. Out of the seven total losses against Navy, three of them have come on the Hart Center hardwood, including the last two meetings in Worcester. The last time Holy Cross topped Navy at home was on Feb. 20, 2008, winning 56-53. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 37-7 record while Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper holds a 3-1 record against the Crusaders since taking over the reins of the women's basketball program in 2008. The Midshipmen are currently on a two-game win streak against Holy Cross as they came away victorious in both meetings last season. The last time Holy Cross lost back-to-back games against Navy was over the 1994-1995 and 1995-1996 seasons (Feb. 8, 1995 and Jan. 17, 1996).

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After Saturday's win over Bucknell, Holy Cross stands at 2-1 in league play. The last time Holy Cross started 2-1 in league competition was the 2007-2008 season, when they mirrored this season's schedule, winning over Lafayette (77-70), falling to Army (57-41) and then besting Bucknell (48-46). The 2007-2008 squad finished 10-4 in the league, good for a second place finish. Over the last 21 seasons, the team has competed in a total of 291 league match-ups, winning 229 and dropping 62 games total for a .787 winning percentage. 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 squad also recorded its first losing season in Patriot League play in 2009-2010, going 5-9. Holy Cross boasts two unblemished Patriot League seasons, going 12-0 in the inaugural season, 1990-1991, and doing it again in 1996-1997. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 229-62 league record. In all, Holy Cross has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. 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 44-8 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.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who has played in eight home match-ups so far, returned to the Hart Center on Jan. 13 against Army for three games after spending seven contests on the road from Dec. 8 through Jan. 13. The Crusaders are now 4-4 when playing on their home hardwood this season, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine and Bucknell, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College and Army the last time out. The Crusaders currently have a .777 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program as the 2010-2011 season marks the 36th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The program holds an all-time 332-109 advantage at home and has posted 29 winning records at home and just five losing seasons, including last year's 4-9 record. Combined, the Crusaders have won 155 of 194 meetings against this year's home opponents, including a 124-22 record against Patriot League foes (1-1 this season).

ROAD WOES: Holy Cross will return to its traveling schedule starting Jan. 22 and continuing through Jan. 29, traveling to American (Jan. 22) and Colgate (Jan. 26). Road trips have not been too kind to the Crusaders, as they are 2-6 when playing on the road this season. Overall, the team is averaging 54.5 points per road game. Home teams average 66.6 points and are knocking down 40.9 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 33.3 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 Crusaders are also outrebounded by an average of 9.9 rebounds when playing on the road.

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 18 games played, Lepley is averaging 9.5 points, a team-best 5.3 rebounds per game and has the best shooting percentage, 41.1 percent (69-for-198), amongst starters. 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; 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 eight out of the 17 games, including seven rebounds against Army the last time out. She has led the team in points twice (against Yale and North Carolina A&T), in steals four times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks eighth in assists (2.6), seventh in steals (1.6), 12th in rebounding and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 26.9 minutes per game after playing 26 minutes in the last game against Bucknell. Against the Bison, Lepley scored nine points and brought down two rebounds. 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 ranks second on the team with 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 35.9 percent from the floor (69 of 192). Fifty-three of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, which now ranks 10th in the Holy Cross single season records list for three-pointers made in a season. One hundred-forty seven of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, as she is sinking 36.1 percent of her three-point tries. Against Bucknell the last time out, Smith notched 11 points, going three of six from the field and leading the team with four assists. 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 this season. She also marked season-bests with eight field goals made, including six treys, which ranks third amongst the program's single-game records. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in six out of the 18 games played and has also posted double-figures in seven of the last nine games. She has notched 12 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, 22 vs. Northeastern, 16 vs. East Tennessee State, 10 vs. North Carolina A&T, 10 at Dartmouth, 17 at Lafayette, 11 vs. Bucknell). According to the Jan. 13 rankings, Smith sits at 18th in the nation in three-pointers made per game (2.9). She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is also 12th in three-point field goal percentage and 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), was named AT&T Crusader of the Week on Dec. 20 and named to the Cavalier Classic's All-Tournament Team. Smith showed off her versatility against Dartmouth as she led the team in rebounding for the first time this season, bringing down a season-high eight rebounds, while also collecting six steals, another season-high. She is now the team-leader in assists, collecting 57 in all. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (third), steals (fifth) and minutes played (sixth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 31.8 minutes. Her 31 steals and 57 assists are both team-highs.

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 leads the team with a 12.9 points per game average, adds 4.2 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (97-for-246 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. Fremeau has attempted a season-high of 17 field goal attempts in a total of three games (Quinnipiac, North Carolina A&T and Dartmouth) and has attempted at least 10 shots in 16 of the 18 games played. She tied her career-high with eight field goals made against Lafayette on Jan. 8, scoring 19 points to lead the team. She has posted a total of 14 double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last eight 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, 10 vs. North Carolina A&T, 15 at Dartmouth, 13 at Massachusetts, 19 at Lafayette, 12 vs. Army and 15 vs. Bucknell. She has led or tied the team in scoring seven times. She currently averages 15.3 points per game against Patriot League opponents, ranking second among scorers in league play thus far. In all games, Fremeau ranks fifth amongst Patriot League individuals with her 12.9 scoring average. She also averages 30.2 minutes per game (eighth in the league) and is shooting 39.4 percent from the floor (11th in the league). Her 2.6 assists per game ranks eighth in the league as she has a total of 47 assists. She has also led or tied the team-high in rebounding in three of the last four games and posted a season-high seven rebounds against Army on Jan. 13. In her 104 career games played, Fremeau has recorded 898 points, 405 rebounds and 192 assists.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 18 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 462 of the team's 1,099 total points, are bringing down 212 out of 627 rebounds and have added 98 of the 282 assists and 74 of the 162 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds per game and have made 151 of their 433 field goal attempts (34.9 percent). Freshman Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) led the team in scoring for the first time against Army, notching a season-high 15 points and followed with a team-high nine rebounds against Bucknell. In all, the freshman class has led the squad in scoring eight times and in rebounding seven times.

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. After starting 11 games and coming off the bench in seven, Ward averages 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 33.0 percent from the floor (36-for-109) on the season, doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Against Bucknell the last time out, Ward hit two field goals for a total of five points and added two assists. 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 18 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 she has made 44 free throws in 50 attempts (88.0 percent) including a perfect 12-for-12 performance at Quinnipiac. The 12 free throws attempted and made 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 Jan. 13. 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 44 assists this season, averaging 2.4 per game, which also ranks 11th amongst Patriot League leaders. In her 76 career games played, Ward has collected 317 points, 141 rebounds and 122 assists.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season as currently averages 5.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18 games off the bench. She also shoots 41.0 percent (25-for-61) from the floor and averages 15.7 minutes played per game. She recorded her best offensive outing of the season in the big win against Lafayette, tallying season-highs with 15 points on five of nine shooting. She also ranks second on the team with her 4.3 rebounding average. Ganser has a total of three double-digit outings thus far (10 vs. Central Connecticut, 12 vs. North Carolina A&T and 15 at Lafayette) and has at least one rebound in the last nine games. She brought down a season-best eight rebounds three times against Fordham, New Hampshire and Harvard. The Needham, Mass. product is also one of the team's best free-throw shooters, sinking 47 of 63 free throw attempts (74.6 percent), ranking eighth amongst league individuals. 

DEFENSE MAY'S WAY: Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), who is listed as a 6-0 forward/guard, leads the team with 10 blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and ranks 12th amongst Patriot League players with 0.6 blocks-per-game. Her 10 blocks are a career-high, besting her eight blocks from the 2009-2010 season as she has recorded a block in seven games this season. A senior captain, May is averaging 4.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. She scored a career-high 12 points against Boston College on Dec. 8 and posted a season-best nine rebounds against Harvard on Nov. 28. She is quick with her hands too, as she averages 1.5 steals per game (ninth amongst top league performers), collecting a total of 27 steals thus far. In her 71 career games played, May has recorded 412 points, 266 rebounds and 131 assists.

I'LL TAKE THAT: The Holy Cross squad averages 9.0 steals per game through 18 games this season. That average ranks first amongst Patriot League teams as they have totaled 162 steals in all. American comes in second, averaging 0.3 less (8.7 per game). Alex Smith is the team's top thief, recording 31 steals in all. She notched a single game-high with six steals against Dartmouth. The team as a whole topped out with 16 steals against New Hampshire on Nov. 23 and has made more steals against their opponents in seven games so far.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross also ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 18 games, Holy Cross averages 15.7 assists per game (282 total) as Alex Smith leads the way with 57 assists, leading the team in the category over the last five games. The team ranks second in assist/turnover ratio, averaging 15.7 assists to 19.2 turnovers (0.8 ratio). The team recorded a season-best 26 assists versus Maine on Dec. 4 and also had 24 assists against Harvard on Nov. 28. Amy Lepley and Whitney Fremeau have both recorded seven assists, a single game-high for the Crusaders. Lepley recorded seven assists against New Hampshire while Fremeau recorded her seven in the season-opener against Yale. In all, the Crusaders have recorded more assists than their opponents in 11 games.

TURNOVER TENACITY: Turning the ball over has not been a problem for the Crusaders this season, as they currently own a +0.7 turnover margin through 18 games. The margin is second-best in Patriot League ranks. Altogether, the team has turned the ball over just 345 times while opponents have turned the ball over 358 times. The team is 4-1 in games when they commit fewer turnovers then their opponents while they stand at 0-8 when they commit more turnovers. The team committed a season-low 14 turnovers in the win over Quinnipiac and most recently committed 17 turnovers next to Bucknell's 21 turnovers in the victory on Jan. 15.

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 482-258 record as head coach (.651 winning percentage), including a 6-12 record at the helm this season. He 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: Whitney Fremeau, Alyssa May and Meredith 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. 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 18 games of action, the captains have put up 429 points, 195 rebounds and 124 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. 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. 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. 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 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.

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the sixth round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Jan. 13. Currently, the Crusaders rank 42nd in assists per game (15.7), 99th in assist/turnover ratio (0.81) and 214th in scoring offense (61.1). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 18th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) and 121st in three-point percentage (36.1). Lastly, Meredith Ward ranks seventh on the national scene with her 88.0 free throw percentage.

NEXTUP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross hits the road once again for a trip to Washington, D.C., playing at American on Saturday, Jan. 22. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. at Bender Arena. The Eagles (13-4, 3-0 PL), will match-up with Army, who is also undefeated in the league slate, on Wednesday, Jan. 19 before hosting the Crusaders.

10-7 (3-0 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH: Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper is in her third season at the helm of Midshipmen women's basketball program and her 12th season as a collegiate head coach. Pemper took over the reins at Annapolis in the spring of 2008 and owns a 43-36 record with the Midshipmen, including her 10-7 record in the 2010-2011 season. In her career, Pemper has compiled 278 wins and 84 losses, which includes a 235-48 record over her decade as the head coach of Bowdoin. Her career winning percentage of 83% ranked fourth in NCAA Division III history upon her departure.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's Navy team enters Wednesday's game with a 10-7 record, 3-0 in the Patriot League and is on a four-game win streak, dating back to Jan. 4. The squad is one of three league opponents to start its season with a 3-0 league record, as they topped Bucknell (62-56), Lehigh (63-62) and Lafayette (61-52) the last time out. They went 7-7 in non-conference play, winning against Siena (57-43), NJIT (72-55), Harvard (65-60), Maine (65-43), Mount St. Mary's (63-46), Air Force (63-62) and Howard (58-45). The squad lost to Villanova (54-41), Florida (52-43), Loyola (57-54), Delaware (60-55), Princeton (74-61), Maryland-Baltimore County (65-56) and Seattle (62-50). The Midshipmen are not fazed by road trips, as they have a solid 5-2 away game record. The team returns seven letterwinners, including four of the five starters from last season. Senior guard Angela Myers leads the team offensively with 12.6 points, while shooting 41.9 percent (72 of 172) from the floor and makes 81 percent of her free throw attempts (47-58). Fellow senior center Cassie Consedine follows with 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Last season, Navy finished 17-14 overall in 2009-2010, including an 8-6 mark in Patriot League contests, finishing in third place.