Women's Basketball To Play At In-State Rival Boston College On Sunday

Emily Parker

Click here for the full Boston College game notes in PDF format

The Teams: Holy Cross (5-4, 0-0 PL) vs. Boston College (3-6, 0-0 ACC)
Date: December 18, 2011
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: Conte Forum (8,606), Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Dick Lutsk, play-by-play; Click Here to Listen
BC All-Access Video: Click here
Unofficial Live Statistics: Gametracker
Series Record: Boston College leads, 24-9
Last Meeting: Boston College 98, Holy Cross 64 (December 8, 2010; Worcester, Mass.)

Wednesday's contest will be the 34th meeting between the Crusaders and Eagles, with Boston College owning a 24-9 all-time record over Holy Cross. The series dates back to 1978 and has become an annual match-up since the 1978-1979 season. Head coach Bill Gibbons holds a 5-21 record against the Eagles. Boston College head coach Sylvia Crawley, in her fourth season at the helm, has won all three meetings against Holy Cross, including an 82-69 victory in 2008, a 90-57 win in 2010 and a 98-64 victory last season. Winning has come in twos for the Crusaders against the Eagles, as they nabbed their first back-to-back victories in the 1981 and 1982 seasons. The team then earned two consecutive wins in 1990 and 1991, lost the next four meetings and then rallied for two more winning seasons in 1996 and 1997. The Eagles are currently riding a 13-game win streak heading into Sunday, as the Crusaders last beat out Boston College on Dec. 9, 1997, 80-68. When playing at the Conte Forum, the Eagles have won 14 of the 17 match-ups.

PLAYING THE EAGLES: The nickname Eagles is the most frequently used name of four-year college mascots, with a total of 76 institutions holding the title. Holy Cross will play a total of two teams with the Eagles mascot this season, Boston College and American. Out of the other 74 colleges, the Crusaders have played against four schools with the Eagles mascot. Boston College and American have been annual competitors for Holy Cross while two other Eagles opponents, Coppin State and Eastern Michigan, have been on the Holy Cross schedule. The Crusaders traveled to play the Eagles of Eastern Michigan in the first game of head coach Bill Gibbons' career on Nov. 23, 1985, winning 90-58, and then played against the Coppin State Eagles on Dec. 29, 1991 at the St. John's Classic. In all, Holy Cross has collected a 24-36 all-time record against Eagles opponents.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ACC: In program history, Holy Cross has played against eight of the 12 teams that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This season, the squad will face Boston College and Miami as their only ACC competitors. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 9-27 record against the Eagles and Hurricanes. Against the other six conference teams, the Crusaders have notched three wins and eight losses throughout program history. The team boasts a winning record against North Carolina State (1-0), has an even record with Maryland (1-1) and North Carolina (1-1) and has posted losing records against Duke (0-4), Virginia (0-2) and Wake Forest (0-1). The squad has never played Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech.

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and Boston College is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and Boston College are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit 'www.ajcunet.edu'.

WARD AIMS HIGH: 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 and has started at guard in all nine games this season, averaging 33.4 minutes, 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Her average minutes, points and rebounds respectively rank fifth, 16th and 20th in Patriot League standings. Ward has notched three double-digit scoring outings thus far, highlighted by her first career double-double against UMass on Nov. 22. She scored 14 points and tallied a career-best 12 rebounds, almost doubling her previous high of seven rebounds. Ward also scored a season-high 15 points against Quinnipiac and followed with 12 points against Fordham. She now has 13 career games where she's posted double-figures. Ward is also emerging as a big presence on the boards for the team, as she ranks second on the squad in that category. On the season, Ward has collected 15 offensive and 28 defensive rebounds. As a junior, Ward 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, making 84 percent of her attempts. In her career, she has scored 445 points, recorded 208 rebounds and 185 assists.

SMOOTH SMITH: 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. Her accolades continue to stack up as she was named the Patriot League Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Dec. 12. Her numbers keep on improving as she has led the team in scoring in three of the last four games, highlighted by a 22-point outburst at Harvard and a season-high of five three-point shots made against Northeastern the last time out. Smith also topped out in the assists category against Harvard, collecting 11 to notch a career-high and record her first-ever double-double. She is the only Patriot League player to record a points and assist double-double on the season. Her other double-figure outings include 20 points versus Northeastern, 15 points at Central Connecticut, 14 points versus UMass, 14 points versus Quinnipiac and 11 points at Yale. She is currently the team's top point performer and ranks third in the Patriot League in scoring average, putting up 13.1 points per game. She also adds a team-high 5.4 assists per game as she has led the team in that category in a total of seven contests. She has 49 on the season. She has hit multiple three-pointers in six contests and averages 2.3 three-pointers per game, leading the league. She now has 28 career games where she's made at least two three-pointers in one game. She also leads the team in minutes played per game (36.1). As a freshman, 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. She has made 21 three-pointers this season.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Junior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) returns for her third-straight season as one of the team's starting forwards. She is at full strength as she currently ranks second on the team and fifth in the Patriot League in scoring average, putting up 12.2 points per game. Lepley's numbers continue to impress as she has notched five double-figure outings in the last seven games, highlighted by a season-high 20-point outburst in the win over New Hampshire on Dec. 3. She also hit a season-high five free throws against the Wildcats, making it to the line a career-best eight times. She has also notched double-figures against UMass (15), Harvard (15), Fordham (14), Quinnipiac (13) and Yale (12). Lepley leads the team in rebounding as well, averaging 5.3 rebounds per game. Her season-high number of rebounds is seven, which she recorded twice (vs. UMass and Northeastern). She has made 49.1 percent of her field goal attempts (44 of 89), ranking first on the team and second amongst Patriot League players. Originally playing as a guard in high school, the converted forward led the team in rebounding (5.6 per game) and blocks (13) in 2010-2011. In her career she has scored 606 points, recorded 341 rebounds and 129 assists.

PICK-ME-UP PARKER: Freshman forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) got her Holy Cross career off to a great start, posting a double-double in her first game in a Crusaders uniform. Her 17-point, 10-rebound performance at Yale became the first time in 15 years of Holy Cross basketball that a freshman posted such high numbers in her first-ever performance. The feat landed her Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors on Nov. 15. She followed a break in action with a 20-point, eight rebound performance in the 80-70 win over Quinnipiac, leading the team in points and tying the team-high in rebounds. She two straight double-figure outings, notching 10 points at UNH and following with 13 points in the last game against Northeastern. Parker hit the go-ahead jumper against the Huskies, finalizing the squad's last minute victory. She is also a presence on the boards, averaging 4.6 rebounds and leading the squad with six blocked shots. On the season, Parker maintains a double-figure scoring average (10.6), which ranks 10th amongst league players.

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 all nine games this season. Malone is producing some of the team's top offense as she has now tallied five straight double-digit scoring affairs, six in all. She hit a season-high 15 points against New Hampshire on Dec. 13 and is averaging 12 points per game over the last five games. She also scored double-figures against Northeastern (11), UMass (10 points), Harvard (13), Central Connecticut (11) and Yale (13). Malone hits her stride in the clutch, notching 38 second half points over the last five games. Through all nine games, Malone has scored 58 of her 91 total points in the second half of games (64 percent). Malone is the fourth player on the team to average in double-figures as she averages 10.1 points per game, ranking 12th amongst league players. She also provides 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game, while adding 29 steals.

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 valuable minutes in all nine games this season and led the team in rebounding for the first time this season with seven boards at Central Connecticut. She also stepped up big in the team's win over Harvard, notching a season-high of 14 points, one shy of her career-high and played in a career-high of 35 minutes. She also scored 10 points against UMass on Nov. 22, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. She was perfect on the line versus the Crimson and has now hit 22 of her 27 free throw attempts, ranking second in the Patriot League with an 81.5 free throw percentage. On the season, Ganser averages 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 188 minutes played. Ganser 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.

HELPING HANDS: For the second season in a row, the Holy Cross women's basketball team is leading the Patriot League in assists. The squad has combined for 147 assists on the season, an average of 16.3 assists per game. Navy ranks second in the league with 13.2 assists per game, a difference of 3.1 assists. Sophomore Alex Smith is once again the team's leader in the assists category, as she averages 5.4 assists per game, also leading the Patriot League.

STARTERS SHINE: The starting five for Holy Cross this season have earned their roles for a reason. Through the nine games, Crusader starters have posted 478 of the team's 565 points (84.6 percent). They have combined for 1,379 of the 1,800 minutes played and are shooting a combined 42.2 percent from the floor (171 of 409). They have also sported 200 rebounds, 127 assists and 52 steals. Against Fordham, the team's starters scored 37 of the team's 43 points. In the game against Harvard, the starters boasted 71 of 73 points. Forty-five of the team's 53 points were scored by the starting five at CCSU and 59 of the team's 61 points versus UNH were put up by starters as well. Four of the five regular starters are averaging in double-figures (Amy Lepley, Parker, Alex Smith and Brisje Malone), the most of any team in the Patriot League. The starters are also a huge part of Holy Cross' league-leading scoring offense as the Crusaders average 62.8 points per game.

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. The team has outrebounded a total of five opponents thus far (Yale, Fordham, UMass, UNH and Northeastern) and is now 3-2 in games when they outrebound their opponent. They have equaled their opponents in number of rebounds, collecting 334 rebounds in all (37.1 rebounds per game). The Crusaders have also stepped up their defense on another level, obtaining more blocks than opponents in three of the eight games (4-1 versus Quinnipiac, 3-1 at Harvard, 3-2 at UNH). Last season, the team was outrebounded by a margin of 1,186-1,023, a 123 rebound difference and finished last in the Patriot League in blocks. 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 team finished with a 24-8 overall record and won the 2003 Patriot League Championship.

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the third round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Dec. 12. Currently, the Crusaders rank 29th in assists per game (16.3), 26th in assist/turnover ratio (1.01), 199th in field goal percentage (40.0) and 163rd in scoring offense (62.8). Alex Smith ranks within the top-50 in the nation with her 5.4 assists per game (24th). Her 11 assists versus Harvard rank 13th in individual game-highs. Smith also ranks in the top-100 with her 2.3 three-pointers made per game, currently rankling 70th.

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: Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons began the season with 496 career wins and now boasts a career record of 501-290 as head coach (.633 winning percentage), including a 5-4 record at the helm this season. He 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 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. He holds sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt and is the sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, enjoying 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 500 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: The Crusaders host Bryant before the Christmas holiday on Wednesday, Dec 21. The game will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the Hart Center and serves as Holy Cross' "Get Fit Day" where local Worcester Public schools will come out and support the team after learning about the importance of health and fitness. 

Record: 3-6 Affiliation: ACC
HEAD COACH: Boston College head coachSylvia Crawley is in her fourth season as the head coach at the helm of the Eagles program. She arrived at the Heights in the spring of 2008. Crawley's record at Boston College is 81-40, while her overall career record is 101-65. Crawley, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, was the head coach at Ohio University for two seasons prior to BC. She led the Bobcats to a 20-13 record in 2007-2008, which was the first time the program earned 20 wins since 1994-95.

2011-2012 SQUAD: The Boston College women's basketball team stands at 3-6 on the season. The squad has wins against Fairleigh Dickinson and common opponents UMass and Bryant and has lost to Rutgers, Arizona State, Wisconsin, Dayton, Hartford and Boston University. Sophomore Shayra Brown leads the team in scoring with 9.3 points per game while sophomore Katie Zenevitch leads the defense with 6.3 rebounds per game.