Women's Basketball Ready For Patriot League Round Two

Christine Ganser

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Game Day Quick Facts

The Teams: Holy Cross (7-15, 3-4 PL) vs. Lafayette (9-13, 2-5 PL)
Date: February 5, 2011
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Listen Here
Unofficial Live Statistics: http://livestats.prestosports.com/holycross/
Patriot League All-Access: www.patriotleague.org/allaccess/

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 44-8
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 72, Lafayette 67 (January 8, 2011, Easton, Pa.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST LAFAYETTE: Saturday's match-up marks the 53rd meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Lafayette, with the Crusaders owning a 44-8 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 that head coach Bill Gibbons earned his first of 43 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. Holy Cross held the upper hand until the Jan. 9, 2010 game, having collected a six-game win streak dating back to Feb. 3, 2007. The Leopards, who had never won at the Hart Center in 21 straight contests, topped the Crusaders by the final score of 43-39. The Crusaders rallied back, however, taking the last two wins on the road, including the 72-67 win from earlier this season. When playing in Worcester, Holy Cross has just one loss in the 23 total match-ups. This will also be the 25th time Lafayette's first-year head coach Dianne Nolan has faced the Crusaders, as she is 9-16 against Holy Cross in her Fairfield coaching days.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After Saturday's victory loss to Lehigh, Holy Cross stands at 3-4 in league play, remaining in fourth place. Holy Cross has never posted a 3-4 record over the first half of Patriot League play, dating back to the inaugural season in 1990-1991. Over the last 21 seasons, the team has competed in a total of 295 league match-ups, winning 230 and dropping 65 games total for a .780 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 possesses two unblemished Patriot League seasons, going 12-0 in 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 230-65 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 42-3 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 12 wins against Holy Cross as well.

CRUSADERS HOLD PINK ZONE DAY: On Saturday, the Holy Cross women's basketball program will host "Pink Zone Day" at the Hart Center during its game versus Lafayette at 1:00 p.m. The team will be donning special edition pink and black "Sader Nation" t-shirts during warm-ups for breast cancer awareness. The t-shirts will also be sold throughout the game, with all proceeds going to the Pink Revolution and McInerneu-Zona Children's Fund. Pink Revolution is an alliance of dedicated individuals with a unified commitment to those touched by breast cancer at UMass Memorial and UMass Medical School here in Worcester while the Zona Children's Fund is a trust fund set up for the children of Mary McInerney-Zona, beloved sister of women's basketball associate head coach Ann McInerney. The game against Lafayette will also feature a halftime performance by the McInerney School of Irish Step Dance and an auction of pink shooting shirts, to be held 10 minutes after the end of the game.

REV. GEORGE L. O'BRIEN AWARD ON THE LINE AGAINST LEOPARDS: The Rev. George L. O'Brien Award will be presented to the most outstanding player in Holy Cross' Winter Homecoming game, held Saturday. The honor went to senior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) last year after she hit eight of her 13 shot attempts to tally a team-high 16 points as the squad rallied past Bucknell 65-60. The award is named after Rev. George L. O'Brien, the former Director of Development at Holy Cross. O'Brien also served as the Athletic Department chaplain for many years.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who has played in 10 home match-ups so far, wraps up a short two-game home stretch against Lafayette on Saturday. The Crusaders are now 4-6 when playing on their home hardwood this season, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine and Bucknell, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Army, Navy and Lehigh. The Crusaders currently have a .773 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 332-111 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 196 meetings against this year's home opponents, including a 124-24 record against Patriot League foes (1-3 this season).

ROADWOES: Holy Cross will hit the road once again for a three-game stretch starting Wednesday, Feb. 9 against Army. Road trips have not been too kind to the Crusaders, as they are 3-7 when playing on the road this season after topping Colgate the last time out. Overall, the team is averaging 55.1 points per road game. Home teams average 72.2 points and are knocking down 43.7 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 34.1 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 out-rebounded by an average of 8.8 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 22 games played, Lepley is averaging 9.1 points, a team-best 5.6 rebounds per game and has one of the best shooting percentages, 40.1 percent (81-for-202), 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, 14 points against North Carolina A&T and 10 points versus Navy. She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in 11 out of the 22 games, including three of the last four games, highlighted by her 10 rebounds in the win over Colgate on Jan. 26. She has led the team in points twice (against Yale and North Carolina A&T), in steals five times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks 11th in assists (2.4), 11th in steals (1.5), ninth in rebounding and 16th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 26.4 minutes per game after playing 17 minutes against Lehigh the last time out. 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 11.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 36.2 percent from the floor (76 of 210). Fifty-nine of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, which now ties for sixth in the Holy Cross single season records list for three-pointers made in a season. One hundred-sixty two of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, as she is sinking 36.4 percent of her three-point tries. In her last performance against Lehigh, Smith scored six points off the bench, making two of her three three-point shot attempts. Smith reached new heights in the game against Northeastern, as she poured in a season-best 22 points. 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 22 games played. 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. 30 NCAA rankings, Smith sits at 25th in the nation in the three-pointers made per-game category (2.8). She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is 11th in three-point field goal percentage and 14th 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 65 in all. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (fourth), steals (seventh) and minutes played (sixth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 31.5 minutes per game.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Whitney Fremeau 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 13.9 points per game average, adds 4.4 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (124-for-304 from the floor). She followed her 24 point performance in the team's win over Colgate on Jan. 26 with a career-best 26 point outing against Lehigh on Jan. 29, recording career-bests with nine field goals made in 19 attempts, including seven three-point shots made in nine tries. Fremeau has attempted at least 10 shots in 20 of the 22 games played. She has posted a total of 18 double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last 12 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, 15 vs. Bucknell, 12 vs. Navy, 12 at American, 24 at Colgate and 26 vs. Lehigh. She has also led or tied the team in scoring 11 times. She currently averages 17.1 points per game against Patriot League opponents, ranking first in that category. In all games, Fremeau ranks third amongst Patriot League individuals with her 13.9 scoring average. She also averages 30.5 minutes per game (10th in the league) and is shooting 40.8 percent from the floor (ninth in the league). Her 2.5 assists per game ranks ninth in the league as she has a total of 54 assists. She has also led or tied the team-high in rebounding in four of the last eight games and posted a season-high nine rebounds against Lehigh on Jan. 29. In her 108 career games played, Fremeau has recorded 972 career points, 28 shy of becoming Holy Cross' 27th 1,000 point scorer, 425 rebounds and 199 assists.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 22 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 529 of the team's 1,320 total points, are bringing down 243 out of 766 rebounds and add 122 of the 335 assists and 79 of the 185 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while making 172 of their 503 field goal attempts (34.2 percent). 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 13 games and coming off the bench in nine, Ward averages 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 32.0 percent from the floor (40-for-125) on the season, almost doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Against Lehigh the last time out, Ward scored five points, including two free throws made, and added five rebounds. 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 22 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 52 free throws in 62 attempts (83.9 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. She also ranks first amongst Patriot League leaders in the free throw percentage category. 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 51 assists this season, averaging 2.3 per game, which ranks 12th amongst Patriot League leaders. In her 80 career games played, Ward has collected 333 points, 154 rebounds and 129 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 she currently averages 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22 games off the bench. She also shoots 36.6 percent (30-for-82) from the floor and averages 15.3 minutes played per game. She recorded her best offensive outing of the season in the win against Lafayette on Jan. 8, tallying season-highs with 15 points on five of nine shooting. She also ranks third on the team with her 3.9 rebounding average. Ganser has a total of four double-digit outings thus far (10 vs. Central Connecticut, 12 vs. North Carolina A&T, 15 at Lafayette and 13 vs. Lehigh) and has at least one rebound in the last 13 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 seventh 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 11 blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and averages 0.5 blocks-per-game, ranking 15th amongst the top Patriot League performers. Her 11 blocks are a career-high, besting her eight blocks from the 2009-2010 season as she has recorded at least one block in eight games this season. Through 22 games, May is averaging 4.2 points and 3.8 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. May had her best overall game in the win over Colgate on Jan. 26, scoring 11 points, recording eight rebounds and tying her career-high with five steals, leading the team in that category. She followed with eight rebounds against Lehigh on Jan. 29, notching four points. She is generally quick with her hands too, as she now averages 1.5 steals per game (ninth amongst top league performers), collecting a total of 34 steals thus far. In her 75 career games played, May has recorded 429 points, 286 rebounds and 136 assists.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 22 games, Holy Cross averages 15.2 assists per game (335 total) as Alex Smith leads the way with 65 assists, leading the team in the category in six of the last nine games. The team ranks third in assist/turnover ratio, averaging 15.2 assists to 18.9 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 12 games.

I'LL TAKE THAT: The Holy Cross squad averages 8.4 steals per game through 22 games this season. After recording six steals against Lehigh on Jan. 29, the Crusaders now rank third in the league behind American and Lehigh. Alyssa May is the team's top thief, recording 34 steals in all. Alex Smith 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 eight games so far.

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 493-281 record as head coach (.637 winning percentage), including a 7-15 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 25 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, 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 22 games of action, the captains have put up 537 points, 248 rebounds and 143 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. 30. Currently, the Crusaders rank 51st in assists per game (15.2), 101st in assist/turnover ratio (0.82) and 228th in scoring offense (60.0). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 25th in three-point shots made per game (2.8) and 99th in three-point percentage (36.4). Lastly, Whitney Fremeau ranks 170th on the national scene with her 40.8 field goal percentage.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross hits the road for a three-game stretch, starting with a trip to play Army on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Crusaders visit the Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y. for a 7:00 p.m. match-up with the Black Knights.

9-13 (2-5 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH : Dianne Nolan became the fifth head coach in Lafayette women's basketball history on April 20, 2010. Nolan joins the Leopards following a three-year stint at Yale University and 28 years as head coach at Fairfield. Now in her 34th season of coaching, she has career record of 526-429, including a 9-13 record in her first season with Lafayette. Nolan spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Yale University, including her final campaign in 2009-10 as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's Lafayette team enters Saturday's game with a 9-13 record, 2-5 in the Patriot League. The squad most recently lost to American at home on Jan. 29, and is tied for seventh place in conference standings. The Leopards started conference play with losses to Holy Cross (72-67), Colgate (64-60), Navy (61-52) and Bucknell (57-49) before advancing past Lehigh (57-54) and going 1-1 in the last two games, topping Army (54-42) and falling to American (66-51). They went 7-8 in non-conference play and are 3-8 when playing on the road, including a 1-2 record against conference foes. Senior forward LaKeisha Wright leads the team with 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while hitting 36.4 percent (102 of 280) of her field goals and 64 percent (57 of 89) of her free throws. Fellow senior guard Lauren Jackson follows with an average of 8.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Lafayette is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 6-23, placing seventh in the Patriot League with a 4-10 mark in league games.