Crusaders Aim To Keep Momentum With Home Game Against Bucknell Saturday

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams:
Holy Cross (11-8, 2-2 PL) vs. Bucknell (2-17, 0-4 PL)
Date: January 21, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m.
 Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Click Here to Listen
Unofficial Live Stats: Click Here
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 37-13
Last Meeting: Bucknell 68, Holy Cross 52, Lewisburg, Pa., February 12, 2011

CRUSADERS TO HOLD POST-GAME AUTOGRAPH SESSION: On Saturday, the Holy Cross women's basketball program will hold its annual post-game autograph session. Any fan attending the game will have the chance to meet the players and get their autographs after the Bucknell game. The session will be held 10 minutes after the game has ended. 

HOLY CROSS CELBRATES NATIONAL WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY: On Saturday, the Holy Cross Department of Athletics will be celebrating the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. NGWSD is celebrated around the nation with community-based events, award ceremonies and activities honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports.

Saturday's match-up will be the 51st meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Bucknell, with the Crusaders owning a 37-13 advantage over the Bison. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play (1990-1991), with the Crusaders earning two back-to-back victories, a 78-59 road win and then a 94-68 tally at the Hart Center. Holy Cross went on to take eight straight match-ups from Jan. 30, 1993 until Jan. 31, 1996, the longest stretch of wins against Bucknell. Since 2000, Holy Cross has lost just nine games in 30 match-ups. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 37-13 record while Bucknell interim head coach Bill Broderick has never faced the Bison. Former Bucknell head coach Kathy Fedorjaka announced her resignation on Jan. 14. Holy Cross holds a 22-4 advantage over the Bison when playing at the Hart Center, winning last year's meeting 57-47. Bucknell won the last meeting in Lewisburg, topping the Crusaders 68-52 on Feb. 12, 2011. The teams have also met a total of eight times in the post-season, with Holy Cross winning five games and losing three.

PLAYING THE BISON: There are a total of eight schools in collegiate athletics that bear the Bison nickname. Bucknell is the only school with the Bison mascot that appears on the Crusaders schedule this season. Out of the eight total schools, Holy Cross has only faced the Bison of Bucknell and Howard. The other programs include Bethany, Gaulledet, Harding, Nichols, North Dakota State and Oklahoma Baptist. Overall, the Crusaders have compiled a 37-14 record against Bison programs.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2011-2012 season marks the 23rd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Over the last 22 seasons, the Crusaders have competed in a total of 332 league match-ups, winning 251 and dropping 81 games total for a 75.6 winning percentage, including a 2-2 record so far this season. The team was seeded sixth in the tournament last season, its lowest ever, and lost in the quarterfinals against American. The squad has now recorded two consecutive losing seasons for the first time ever in program history, going 5-9 in 2009-2010 and 6-8 last season. 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 250-81 league record. In all, Holy Cross has made 21 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-10 all-time record. 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 46-8 record against Lafayette, winning the last four meetings. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 27 of the 81 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 15 wins against Holy Cross as well, including eight in a row, while the squad just broke a four-game slide against Navy on Jan. 11.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who is now 5-2 at the Hart Center this season, will play in six more home games. The squad has topped Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, UMass, Northeastern and Bryant and lost to Fordham and American. The Crusaders currently have a 77.3 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 win over Dartmouth on Jan. 3 was the program's 300th win as a Division I squad. The program holds an all-time 339-114 advantage in Worcester and has posted 29 winning records 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 159 of 194 meetings against this year's home opponents.

WINNING WAYS: The Holy Cross women's basketball team earned its 11th win of the season at Lafayette on Jan. 18, and finished the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 9-6 record after beating Brown on Jan. 16. The last time the program posted a winning record after non-conference play was over the 2001-2002 season, going 8-4. The team finished 23-8 that season, putting together a 13-2 record in regular season Patriot League play. The 2001-2002 Crusaders lost to Bucknell in the Patriot League championship game, and made the program's sole appearance in the WNIT. The team's 11 wins bested the previous two seasons total of 10 wins.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: Sophomore guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) and junior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) are showing the Patriot League why Holy Cross boasts a winning record after 19 games of action. Lepley now leads the team with 13.6 points per game while Smith follows close behind with 12.5 points per game. Lepley has moved up to second in the league in scoring while Smith ranks fifth. Jhazmine Lynch of Colgate leads the league with 14.6 points per game while Army's Jen Hazlett and Anna Simmers separate Lepley and Smith with scoring averages of 13.1 and 13.0 on the season. Combined, the two have led the team in scoring in 14 of the team's 19 games.

TURNOVER TENACITY: Sophomores Alex Smith and Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) are showing off their seasoned skills, leading the team not only with their scoring capabilities, but also their ability to create shots for their teammates. The two have combined for 177 of the squad's 332 assists (53 percent) and account only for 120 of the total 314 turnovers. Through the 19 games, Smith leads the Patriot League with a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio (105 assists, 65 turnovers) while Malone is second with a 1.3 ratio (72 assists, 55 turnovers). The two have also tallied 11 assists in one game, Smith doing so against Harvard and Malone against Morgan State. Their output ranks in a tie for fifth in Holy Cross single-game records. 

OFFENSEONTOP: The Holy Cross women's basketball team continues to keep up the offensive tempo three games into conference action. When playing non-conference opponents, the Crusaders average 64.9 points per game, while they now score an average of 60 points against conference foes, putting up 75 points against Lafayette the last time out. The team continues to lead the league by averaging 64.3 points per game, totaling 1,221 points in 19 contests. The second-highest scoring team in the Patriot League is Lehigh, who averages 58.6 points per game, a difference of 5.7 points. The squad's outburst of 82 points against Bryant was a season-high. The Crusaders also hit a season-best 32 field goals against Brown, the most field goals made by any Patriot League team this season. The team's field goal percentage, 41.4, is also a league best as they've combined to make 454 of their 1,096 shot attempts. Overall, the team is 8-1 when playing in games where they've scored over 60 points and 9-2 when shooting better than 40 percent.

WARD LEADS SQUAD: 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 19 games this season, averaging 31.5 minutes, 7.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Her playing time has increased dramatically during her senior season as she averaged 21.3 minutes over her first three years. She currently ranks seventh amongst Patriot League players in average minutes played. Her point and rebound averages have also improved as she is scoring 3.5 more points and bringing down three more rebounds than her career averages (4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds). She currently ranks 21st in scoring amongst Patriot League leaders. Ward has notched four 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. Against Brown, Ward led the squad with 16 points, knocking down a season-high seven field goals. She followed with a career-high eight assists against Lafayette, leading the team. Her other double-figure games include Quinnipiac (15 points) and Fordham (12). Her free throw shooting remains strong as well, as she hits 80 percent (24 of 30) from the line. As a junior, Ward registered a Holy Cross single-game 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 505 points, recorded 241 rebounds and 213 assists.

SMOOTH SMITH: Sophomore guard Alex Smith 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 to the Miami Classic All-Tournament team and the Patriot League Player of the Week on Dec. 12. Her numbers are impressive, as she has led the team in scoring in seven games on the season. Highlighting her scoring efforts was a 22-point outburst at Harvard, tying her career-high. She has scored in double-figures in eight of the last 11 games and has 13 double-digit outings on the season. Her double-figure games include 15 points at Brown, 11 points at Lehigh, 10 points vs. Dartmouth, 19 points vs. Morgan State, 11 points at Miami, 11 points vs. Bryant, 17 points at Boston College, 20 points vs. Northeastern, 15 points at Central Connecticut, 14 points versus UMass, 14 points versus Quinnipiac and 11 points at Yale. 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 has 105 total assists on the season, notching a career-high, and leads the team and Patriot League with 5.5 assists per game. She is once again a three-point threat, hitting a season-high of five three-point shots made in a game three times so far (vs. Northeastern, Boston College and Morgan State). She has hit multiple three-pointers in 16 contests, including the last 12 games, and averages 2.7 three-pointers per game, leading the league. She now has 38 career games where she's made at least two three-pointers. 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. In her career, Smith has recorded 558 points, 173 rebounds and 203 assists.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Junior forward Amy Lepley returns for her third-straight season as one of the team's starting forwards. She is at full strength as she currently ranks first on the team and second in the Patriot League in scoring average, putting up 13.6 points per game. Lepley's numbers continue to impress as she has notched 14 double-figure outings this season, highlighted by a season and career-high 22 point outburst against Lehigh on Jan. 7. She registered her third 20-point effort of the season against Lafayette the last time out, scoring a team-high 21 points and tying her season and career-high with nine field goals made, which she also registered against Lehigh earlier. Lepley has hit double figures in six of the last seven games, including the last three games. She has also recorded double-figures against Brown (14), Dartmouth (13) Morgan State (19), Bryant (18) Boston College (11), UMass (15), Harvard (15), Fordham (14), Quinnipiac (13) and Yale (12). She has led the team in scoring in eight total games. Lepley is the team and league's best shooter, making 51.2 percent of her field goal attempts (106 of 205). She is a true double-threat, as she leads the team and ranks eighth in the league in rebounding, averaging six rebounds per game. She has led the team in rebounding in five of the last seven contests. Her season-high number of rebounds is 10, which she recorded against Morgan State on Dec. 29. Against the Bears, Lepley secured her fourth career double-double, scoring 19 points and tallying the 10 rebounds. 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 755 points, recorded 407 rebounds and 154 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 marked 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 also received Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 27 after scoring 11 points and tallying six rebounds against Bryant on Dec. 21, becoming the first repeat rookie award winner this season. Parker led the team with 15 points against American and has recorded four straight double-figure outings. She registered a season and team-high 20-points against Quinnipiac and has led the team in scoring three times this season. She has seven double-figure outings in the last 10 games, notching 10 points at Lafayette, 10 points at Brown, 15 points vs. American, 12 points at Navy, 10 points at UNH, 13 points against Northeastern and 11 points over Bryant. She averages 9.2 points per game. She ranks fourth on the team and 15th in the Patriot League in the scoring category. She also continues to be one of the team's top rebounders as she earned her second double-double with 12 rebounds along with the 12 points at Navy, leading the team in rebounding. She averages 5.6 boards per game, second highest on the team. She is also the team's top shot-blocker as she notched a season-high four blocks against the Midshipmen and three rejections at Brown. She has posted a total of 24 blocks on the season, an average of 1.4 blocks per game, and ranks sixth amongst Patriot League players. She has registered seven games with multiple blocks, the most by any other Crusader this season.

COMEBACK MALONE: Sophomore guard Brisje Malone, 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 19 games this season. Malone is producing some of the team's top offense as she has tallied 11 double-digit scoring affairs in the last 15 games. She has hit a season-high 15 points twice, coming at Lafayette the last time out and at UNH. Against the Leopards, Malone went to the free throw line a career-best 10 times, sinking seven free throws. She averaged 9.8 points per game, ranking third on the team and 13th amongst Patriot League players. She has also scored double-figures against American (12), Dartmouth (11), Morgan State (10), Bryant (14), Boston College (10), Northeastern (11), UMass (10), Harvard (13), Central Connecticut (11) and Yale (13). Malone hits her stride in the clutch, scoring 109 of her 187 total points in the second half of games (58 percent). Malone notched two season-highs in the game against Morgan State, tallying eight rebounds and 11 assists. She became the second player on the team to notch a points, assist double-double this season, as her 11 assists were a career-best. Her versatility stretches to the defensive side of the ball as well as she ranks fourth on the team with a 4.5 rebounding average. She led the team in rebounding against New Hampshire and Miami. She is also second on the team with 3.6 assists per game. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game. In her career she has scored 379 points, brought down 161 rebounds and dished out 129 assists.  

GAINS FOR GANSER: Sophomore Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.), who has been a solid presence off the bench for Holy Cross this season, broke out for a career-best 21-point, four steal performance in the team's win over Dartmouth. Ganser, whose previous high was 15 points, made 11 free throws and five field goals made. Ganser is also a big addition for the Crusaders' defense as she posts 5.2 rebounds per game, third on the team and 14th amongst league foes. She also makes 75.8 percent of her free throws (47 of 62) which ranks fifth amongst league players. Ganser is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game against Patriot League opponents, second highest on the team. She added eight rebounds at Lafayette the last time out and has had at least two rebounds in the last seven contests. Ganser played in all 30 games as a freshman, averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds.

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 332 assists on the season, an average of 17.5 assists per game. American ranks second in the league with 12.8 assists per game, a difference of 4.7 assists. Sophomore Alex Smith is once again the team's leader in the assists category, as she averages 5.5 assists per game, also leading the Patriot League. Holy Cross' 27 assists over Bryant tallied a league-high on the season. Sophomore Brisje Malone also adds 3.6 assists per game, second in the league and on the team.

STARTERS SHINE: The starting five for Holy Cross this season have earned their roles for a reason. Through the 19 games, Crusader starters have posted 987 of the team's 1,221 points (81 percent). They have combined for 2,831 of the 3,825 minutes played (74 percent) and are shooting a combined 42.8 percent from the floor (369 of 862). They have also sported 446 rebounds, 289 assists and 112 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. Fifty of the squad's 60 points were scored by starters in the Patriot League opener at Lehigh while 46 of the 55 points were posted by starters at Navy.

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 12 of its 19 opponents thus far (Lafayette, Brown, American, Navy, Morgan State, Yale, Fordham, UMass, UNH, Northeastern, Boston College and Bryant). The team boasts an 8-4 record when outrebounding its opponent. Highlighting the teams rebounding efforts was a 52-33 margin against Bryant, a difference of 19 boards, a +13 difference against Navy (46-33) and a 43-29 advantage against American (+14). The 52 rebounds against Bryant were a single-game high and tied the most rebounds tallied by any Patriot League team so far this season. In all, Holy Cross posts 27 more rebounds than its opponents, a 734-707 difference. The Crusaders have also stepped up their defense on another level, obtaining more blocks than opponents in eight of the 19 games (2-1 at Lafayette, 5-3 at Brown, 3-0 versus American, 4-2 at Navy, 4-1 versus Quinnipiac, 3-1 at Harvard, 3-2 at UNH, 4-1 versus Bryant). Emily Parker has collected 24 of the team's 4\0 blocks. Last season, the team was outrebounded by a margin of 1,186-1,023, a 123 rebound difference. 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.

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. 

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the ninth round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Jan. 16. Currently, the Crusaders rank 17th in assists per game (17.1), 18th in assist/turnover ratio (1.02), 107th in field goal percentage (40.1) and 155th in scoring offense (62.6). Alex Smith ranks within the top-50 in the nation with her 5.5 assists per game (25th). Smith also ranks in the top-50 with her 2.7 three-pointers made per game, currently ranking 27th. She ranks within the top-100 in assist/turnover ratio, sitting in 73rd (1.62). Amy Lepley ranks 56th nationally with her 50.3 field goal percentage.

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. 

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 507-294 as head coach (63.3 winning percentage), including a 11-8 record at the helm this season. He became the 24th active Division I coach to have 500 career wins on Dec. 3 at New Hampshire. 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: Holy Cross continues its homestand with a Wednesday night contest against Army on Jan. 25. The Crusaders welcome the Black Knights to the Hart Center for a 7:00 p.m. tip.

SCOUTING BUCKNELL: Bucknell enters the game with an overall record of 2-17 on the season, including a 0-9 record on the road. The Bison are 0-5 in their last five contests, including a 53-38 loss to Lehigh the last time out. The team has lost a total of nine straight contests. Sophomore guard Shelby Romine leads the team offensively with an average of 8.9 points per game. Junior forward Lindsay Horbatuck leads the team defensively with 7.6 rebounds per game. The team, as a whole, is averaging 49.8 points per game while giving up an average of 59.7 points per game. Bucknell is led by interim head coach Bill Broderick who is in his first stint as a head coach.