Women's Basketball Hosts Quinnipiac For Home Opener On Wednesday

Meredith Ward

Complete Quinnipiac game notes in PDF format

Game Day Quick Facts:
The Teams: Holy Cross (0-2, 0-0 Patriot) vs. Quinnipiac (0-1, 0-0 NEC)
Date: November 16, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio, Bob Fouracre; play-by-play; Listen here
Unofficial Live Stats: Click here
Quinnipiac Radio: WQUN-AM1220; Bob Tipson and Bill Schweizer
Series Record:
Holy Cross leads, 3-2
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 72, Quinnipiac 60 (November 17, 2010, Hamnder, Conn.)

THE SERIES WITH QUINNIPIAC: Wednesday's match-up marks the sixth meeting all-time between the Crusaders and Bobcats, as Holy Cross now owns a 3-2 edge after winning last year's decision, 72-60. The first meeting between the two teams occurred during the 1980-1981 season in Hamden, Conn., with Holy Cross earning a 88-70 victory. Holy Cross nabbed its second victory the following season, tallying a 75-63 win in Worcester, Mass. The two teams did not meet again until the 2006-2007 season. On Nov. 14 and then again on Dec. 1, 2007, the two matched up for a home-and-home series, with Quinnipiac taking both games by the respective 72-69 and 85-66 tallies. This is the third meeting in Worcester, as both teams have won one game each. Head coach Bill Gibbons picked up his first win against the Bobcats last season and now stands at 1-2 all-time. Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri, who is currently in her 17th season at the helm of the program, boasts a 2-1 record when playing the Crusaders.

FOR HOME OPENERS: Holy Cross returns home for its third game of the season on Wednesday, looking for the first win. The Crusaders are 22-16 all-time in home openers, dating back to the 1974-1975 season. The game serves as Holy Cross' third game of the season. The last time the Crusaders opened up with two road games was the 2005-2006 season. They played Dartmouth in the first home game that year and lost 74-63.  Over the last 10 years, Holy Cross stands at 4-5 in the first home game of the season  over the past nine years, defeating Massachusetts (68-42 in 2001-2002), St. Peter's (70-64, 2002-2003), Providence (68-48, 2004-2005) and Yale (68-56, 2006-2007), while falling to St. John's (87-76, 2003-2004), Dartmouth (74-63, 2005-2006), Vermont (54-45, 2007-2008) and most recently to Yale (65-63, 2008-2009 and 74-71, 2010-2011). The team comes into the contest having lost its last four openers at the Hart Center, two against Yale and once against Northeastern and Vermont.

PLAYING THE BOBCATS: The nickname Bobcats is used by a total of 15 collegiate institutions, including Quinnipiac. The 14 other schools that own the Bobcats title are Bates (Lewiston, Maine), College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, Missouri), Frostburg State (Frostburg, Md.), Georgia College and State University, Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk, N.C.), Montana State, New York University, Paul Smith's College (Paul Smith, N.Y.), Peru State (Peru, Neb.), St. Thomas (Miami, Fla.), Texas State, Pittsburgh-Greenburg and West Virginia Wesleyan. Quinnipiac is the only Bobcats school that Holy Cross has played against in program history. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE: In program history, Holy Cross has played against six of the 11 teams that make up the Northeast conference. This season, Holy Cross will face three NEC opponents, including Bryant, who will be instated in to the conference in 2012-2013, Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut. The Crusaders have played in a total of 26 games against Northeast foes, winning 19 in all (.731 percent). Holy Cross boasts a winning percentage in series against Bryant (4-1), Central Connecticut (8-2), Long Island (3-1), Mount St. Mary's (2-0), Quinnipiac (3-2), Sacred Heart (1-0) and Wagner (2-1). They do not post a losing record against any NEC member. The squad has not played against Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Robert Morris and St. Francis (N.Y. and Pa.).

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross will play in 13 home games this season. Last season, the Crusaders went 6-7 when playing on the Hart Center hardwood, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine, Bucknell, Lafayette and Colgate, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Army, Navy, Lehigh and American. The Crusaders currently have a .772 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program as the 2011-2012 season marks the 38th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The program holds an all-time 334-112 advantage at home and has posted 29 winning records at home and six losing seasons, including last year's 6-7 record. A total of 47 teams have never won at the Hart Center. Combined, the Crusaders have won 155 of 189 meetings against this year's home opponents.

WARD NAMED 2011-2012 TEAM CAPTAIN: The lone senior on the roster, Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), was named captain for the 2011-2012 season. Ward was also named a tri-captain for the 2010-2011 season. She is the veteran leader in the backcourt has started this season as one of the team's three starting guards. In her season debut at Yale, Ward went 3-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-3 from the free throw line, finishing with nine points. She posted five points and four rebounds in the following game against nationally-ranked Connecticut. She saw action in all 30 games last season while starting 13. She averaged 23.2 minutes, 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. She registered a Holy Cross single-season record when she went 12-for-12 from the free throw line against Quinnipiac and finished the season as the team's top free throw performer. Her 84.0 free throw percentage was also first amongst league players as well.

SMITH NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: Sophomore guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) was chosen to the preseason All-League Team after being named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team last season. She joins the team with two other sophomores, Navy's Jade Geif and Bucknell's Shelby Romine and three seniors, American's Strack and Lehigh's Alexa Williams and Emily Gratch. In her season debut at Yale, Smith returned to form from the three-point line, making three of her six attempts and finished the game with 11 points and a career-best eight assists. She sank two more three point shots against UConn the last time out and now has 24 games in her career where she's made at least two three-pointers. Last season, Smith ranked second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 point per game. She also ranked first on the team in minutes played per game (32.0) and assists (98). She finished the season with 82 three-pointers made, ranking second-highest in the Holy Cross single-season records.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Junior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) returns for her third-straight season as one of the team's starting forwards. Lepley is at full strength after recovering from a tweaked knee late last season. She scored 12 points, brought down five rebounds and tallied five assists in her 2011-2012 season debut against Yale. She then tied the team-high with eight point while attempting a team-high 12 shots against the Connecticut Huskies. Originally playing as a guard in high school, the converted forward led the team in rebounding and blocks in 2010-2011. Her team-high of 5.6 rebounds per game also ranked ninth amongst Patriot League players as she led the team in rebounding in 12 of the 30 games. She is a threat not only on defense but on offense as well as she posted a 9.6 scoring average, third-highest on the team. Her 40.9 field goal percentage ranked second on the team.

COMEBACK MALONE: Sophomore guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.), who did not start the two exhibition games for Holy Cross this fall, has come back to earn the third starting guard spot in both games this season. She shined in her season debut at Yale, playing 34 minutes and scoring 13 points on a 4-for-9 shooting effort. Two of her baskets made it a one-possession contest against the Bulldogs, including a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the game. Against UConn on Sunday, Malone made it to the free throw line eight times, tying her career-high with six free throws made. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game, while also adding 29 steals. Her scoring average and steals ranked fourth on the squad and she started in a total of 18 games.

HAMNER TIME: Sophomore guard Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.) has emerged from the preseason as one of the team's top shooting guards. Against Yale in the season opener, Hamner scored six points, going 3-for-5 from the floor and added five rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. Hamner returns to the court after averaging 12.3 minutes in the 28 games she played as a freshman. She tallied 3.0 points per game and scored in double-figures twice and finished the season with a 29.7 field goal percentage.

GAINS FOR GANSER: The third sophomore to earn a starting role for the 2011-2012 season is Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.). The 6-1 forward has played a total of 30 minutes this season, bringing down a total of five rebounds and scoring five points. She adds spark to the Crusaders' frontcourt, as she appeared in all 30 games in her freshman campaign. She ranked fourth on the team in rebounding, averaging 3.8 rebounds per game and was solid from the free throw line, making 74.7 percent of her free throws. She led or tied the team-high in rebounding in seven games and shot a season total of 35.5 percent from the field, going 38-107.

MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE: Ever since Kaitlin Foley graduated from Holy Cross in 2007, the Crusaders have not had a true center on their roster. This year's team will turn to two new faces, freshmen Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) and Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) for that frontcourt presence. The two are listed at 6-3 and 6-2 respectively and were McDonald's All-America nominees and named to their respective All-Conference teams at least twice. Parker, who played in 20 minutes for the Crusaders in the season opener against Yale, sank eight of her 11 shot attempts, leading the squad with 17 points. She posted 10 rebounds as well, recording a double-double in her first career game. Sullivan saw 18 minutes of action against nationally-ranked UConn and went 2-for-8 from inside the paint. She brought down three rebounds as well. On the season, the two have combined for 21 points and 13 rebounds.

OFF THE BENCH: The Crusaders' bench will have a big impact on the court this season. The team, who is looking to have a more balanced approach to scoring, will turn to its bench as major factors in this. Against Yale on Friday, the Holy Cross bench outscored the Bulldogs' bench 25-11. Seventeen of those points came from Emily Parker, while Kelly Hamner added six more. Junior forward Kaitlin Cole (Springfield, Pa.) tallied three rebounds and two rebounds. On the season, the Holy Cross bench has scored 29 points. Junior guard Alexis Nicholas (Jamaica, N.Y.) and freshman guard Ashley Cooper (Colts Neck, N.J.) will increase the bench's depth, accounting for more scoring options as they played a combined nine minutes on Sunday.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Another goal of the 2011-2012 season is to step up on all aspects of the defense. One of the main ways the team will accomplish that goal is to win the rebounding battle. Despite the loss in Friday's season opener, the team did step up the defense, outrebounding Yale 43-33. UConn outrebounded Holy Cross 49-32 on Sunday as the team is now being outrebounded by 3.5 boards per game. Last season, the team was outrebounded by a margin of 1,186-1,023, a 123 rebound difference. The year prior, the team was outrebounded 1,197-960. The last Holy Cross team to outrebound all of its opponents during a season was in 2002-2003. That season, the squad put up 1,216 rebounds compared to 1,124 rebounds by their opponents. The squad finished with a 24-8 overall record and won the 2003 Patriot League Championship.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth for the second straight season in the 2011-2012 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 52 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving 11 first-place votes as senior Lisa Strack was voted preseason All-Patriot League. The Eagles earned a league-high 94 points and was followed by Lehigh, who received three first place votes and 83 points. Reigning Patriot League champion Navy was picked third with 74 points and two first place votes, while Bucknell (58 points) and Holy Cross (52) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Lafayette, Army and Colgate followed in order, earning 38, 26 and 23 points respectively.

WELCOME TO WORCESTER: There will be one new face handling front office duties for the 2011-2012 Crusader basketball squad, assistant coach Sahar Nusseibeh. Nusseibeh was a former player for American, a Patriot League opponent, and was part of two squads that won the conference's regular season championship. Nusseibeh joins the Crusaders' hoops staff after spending the last two years as a graduate assistant at Cincinnati. While there, she provided on-road recruiting, video coordinating, served as the team's post coach and was the academic liaison between the players, academics department and coaches.

BOWL FOR BONDS: Assistant coach Chante Bonds knows what it's like to be a champion. This past summer, Bonds was a major part of the Boston Militia, a team in the Women's Football Alliance. Her squad went 7-1 during the regular season and finished with a 3-0 record in the national conference playoffs, earning them a spot in the world championship. Facing the San Diego Surge, Bonds' Militia won the game 35-19 and was crowned the 2011 Women's Football Alliance National Champions. Bonds, who was in her third year in the women's league, earned second team All-America honors as a wide receiver. Playing as a cornerback in the championship game, Bonds stopped a San Diego drive with an interception and an 11-yard return. Bonds, born and raised in Brockton, Mass., played Division II basketball at Bentley. A combo guard, Bonds' favorite tasks on the basketball court were diving for loose balls and setting screens for post players. On the football field, she caught on to contact and tackling quickly.

SUMMER SHAPE-UP: The Crusaders went through a tough and rigorous summer off season, working with assistant coach Chante Bonds and strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil. In addition to the normal training regimen of strength, power, core stability and knee injury prevention, Keil and Bonds implemented a conditioning sprint test. The sprint test simulated game-like conditions, and when they ran it together as a team, they competed to see who can stay on top of the 'speed ladder'; slowest person is last in line, fastest person is at the top, and they fight to move up or keep their position on every sprint rep. Both Bonds and Keil felt that this new training segment changed the squad's mentality of being on the team and kept them training with consistency and intensity throughout the summer.

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 243 league victories and just 71 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-10 all-time record. The team was seeded sixth in the tournament last season, a program low and lost to American in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 43-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 45-8 record against Lafayette. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 28 of the 71 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 13 wins against Holy Cross as well.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2011-2012 season is the second 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.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 27th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 27th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 31st as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2011-2012. He has compiled a 496-288 record as head coach (.633 winning percentage), including a 0-2 record at the helm this season. He ranks 24th on the active Division I win leaders list and is four shy wins of his 500th victory. 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 16 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 26 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 495 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.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: On Saturday, Nov. 19, Holy Cross will host Fordham at the Hart Center. The contest will begin at 1:00 p.m. and serves as the Crusaders' first Saturday game of the season. The Rams opened up their season with a 59-42 loss on Saturday against Albany and will host Cleveland State before coming to Worcester.

Record: 0-1 Affiliation: NEC
HEAD COACH: Head coach Tricia Fabbri enters her 17th season at the helm of the Quinnipiac women's basketball team. She has totaled 221 career victories. She was named the 2000-2001 and 2005-2006 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year and, in 2007-2008, led the Bobcats to a berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The WNIT bid marked the first national postseason tournament appearance in Quinnipiac women's basketball Division I history.

2011-2012 SQUAD: The Quinnipiac women's basketball team stands at 0-1 on the season after losing its season opener against James Madison, 81-73. Three players posted double-digit scoring games, including a team-high of 20 points by freshman guard Jasmine Martin. Sophomore forward Camryn Warner posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The team was selected sixth in the NEC preseason poll and returns four of their top five scorers from last season.