Women's Basketball Goes For Fourth Straight Win Against Army Wednesday
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (12-8, 3-2 PL) vs. Army (9-11, 3-2 PL)
Date: January 25, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
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Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 30-18
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 57, Army 50, West Point, N.Y., February 9, 2011
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST ARMY: Wednesday's match-up will be the 49th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Army, with the Crusaders owning a 30-18 advantage over the Black Knights. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play. The Crusaders won the first meeting at the Hart Center, 67-57 on Jan. 23, 1991. The Crusaders went on to win the next four meetings, outscoring Army 255-221. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 30-18 record, as he suffered his first career loss against the Black Knights, 54-52, in an away game on Jan. 13, 1993. Army head coach Dave Magarity has been very successful against Holy Cross, collecting a 9-3 record in his six seasons at the helm. Army won the first four contests with Magarity as head coach before the Crusaders broke up the slide on Jan. 14, 2009, 57-41. Holy Cross also ended another four-game slide against the Black Knights on March 6, 2010 in the first round of the Patriot League Championship, topping Army 57-53 at the Hart Center. Holy Cross owns a commanding 17-7 all-time record when playing in Worcester, despite losing last year's meeting, 50-47. The Crusaders won last season's final match-up, 57-50, winning at Christl Arena for the first time in six meetings.
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 333 league match-ups, winning 252 and dropping 81 games total for a 75.7 winning percentage, including a 3-2 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 6-2 at the Hart Center this season, will play in five more home games. The squad has topped Bucknell, Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, UMass, Northeastern and Bryant and lost to Fordham and American. The Crusaders currently have a 77.2 home victory percentage (301 wins, 89 losses) 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 340-114 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 160 of 195 meetings (82 percent) against this year's home opponents.
WINNING WAYS: The Holy Cross women's basketball team earned its 12th win of the season against Bucknell on Jan. 21 and currently stands with a 3-2 record in conference play. The team 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 12 wins are two more than 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 20 games of action. Lepley now leads the team with 13.6 points per game while Smith follows close behind with 12.6 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 14.4 points per game while Army's Jen Hazlett and Anna Simmers separate Lepley and Smith with scoring averages of 13.1 and 12.7 on the season. Combined, the two have led the team in scoring in 15 of the team's 20 games, including four of the five conference games. Lepley leads the team in scoring against Patriot League opponents, averaging 15.4 points.
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 189 of the squad's 356 assists (53 percent) and account for only 126 of the total 335 turnovers. Through the 20 games, Smith leads the Patriot League with a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio (112 assists, 70 turnovers) while Malone is second with a 1.4 ratio (77 assists, 56 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. Combined, the two have led the team in the assist category in 19 of the 20 total games thus far.
OFFENSE ON TOP: The Holy Cross women's basketball team continues to keep up the offensive tempo five games into conference action. When playing non-conference opponents, the Crusaders averaged 64.9 points per game and currently average 63.6 points per game against league foes, second highest next to Lehigh's 66 points per game. In all, the team leads the league by averaging 64.3 points per game, totaling 1,291 points in 20 contests. The second-highest scoring team in the Patriot League through all games is Lehigh, which averages 59.1 points per game, a difference of 5.5 points. The squad's outburst of 82 points against Bryant was a season-high while a season-best 32 field goals were made against Brown, the most field goals made by any Patriot League team this season. The team's overall field goal percentage, 42.0, is a league best as they've combined to make 483 of their 1,149 shot attempts. Against league opponents, the Crusaders hit 43.6 percent of their field goals (127 of 291). Altogether, the team is 9-1 when playing in games where they've scored over 60 points and 10-2 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 20 games this season, averaging 31.3 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 eighth 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 511 points, recorded 244 rebounds and 215 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 eight games on the season, including the 14 points scored against Bucknell the last time out. Highlighting her scoring efforts was a 22-point outburst at Harvard, tying her career-high. She has scored in double-figures in nine of the last 12 games and has 14 double-digit outings on the season. Her double-figure games include 14 points vs. Bucknell, 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 topped out in the assists category against Harvard, collecting 11 to notch a career-high and record her first-ever double-double. She has 112 total assists on the season, notching a career-high, and leads the team and Patriot League with 5.6 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 17 contests, including the last 13 games, and averages 2.7 three-pointers per game, leading the league. She now has 39 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 572 points, 176 rebounds and 210 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 15 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, scoring a team-high 21 points and tying her season and career-high with nine field goals made, which she also registered against the Mountain Hawks. Lepley has hit double figures in the last four games, including 12 points versus Bucknell the last time out. 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 also the team and league's best shooter, making 51.4 percent of her field goal attempts (112 of 216). 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 eight 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 767 points, recorded 413 rebounds and 157 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 double-figure outings in four of the last five games. 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 11 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 a total of nine points per game and ranks fourth on the team and 16th 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 5.7 boards per game, second highest on the team and has led the team in rebounding in six games total this season. 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 on Jan. 16. She has posted a total of 25 blocks on the season, an average of 1.4 blocks per game, ranking 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 20 games this season. Malone is producing some of the team's top offense as she has tallied 12 double-digit scoring affairs in the last 16 games. She has hit a season-high of 15 points twice, coming at Lafayette on Jan. 18 and at UNH. Against the Leopards, Malone went to the free throw line a career-best 10 times, sinking seven free throws. She averages 9.9 points per game, ranking third on the team and 13th amongst Patriot League players. She has also scored double-figures against Bucknell (10), 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 113 of her 197 total points in the second half of games (57 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 she ranks fourth on the team with 4.4 rebounds per game. She led the team in rebounding against New Hampshire and Miami. She is also second on the team with 3.9 assists per game. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game. In her career she has scored 389 points, brought down 163 rebounds and dished out 134 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. Ganser is also a big addition for the Crusaders' defense as she posts 5.1 rebounds per game, third on the team and 15th amongst league foes. Ganser is averaging 6.6 rebounds per game against Patriot League opponents, third highest on the team. She added eight rebounds at Lafayette on Jan. 18 and has had at least two rebounds in the last eight contests. She also makes 75.8 percent of her free throws (50 of 66) which ranks third amongst league players. 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 356 assists on the season, an average of 17.8 assists per game. Navy ranks second in the league with 13 assists per game, a difference of 4.8 assists. Sophomore Alex Smith is once again the team's leader in the assists category, as she averages 5.6 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 3.9 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 20 games, Crusader starters have posted 1,034 of the team's 1,291 points (80 percent). They have combined for 2,962 of the 4,025 minutes played (73.6 percent) and are shooting a combined 43.4 percent from the floor (389 of 897). They have also sported 467 rebounds, 307 assists and 120 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 13 of its 20 opponents thus far (Bucknell, Lafayette, Brown, American, Navy, Morgan State, Yale, Fordham, UMass, UNH, Northeastern, Boston College and Bryant). The team boasts an 9-4 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. In all, Holy Cross posts 31 more rebounds than its opponents, a 769-738 difference. The Crusaders have also stepped up their defense on another level, obtaining more blocks than opponents in nine of the 20 games (2-1 vs. Bucknell, 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 25 of the team's 42 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 11th round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Jan. 23. Currently, the Crusaders rank ninth in assists per game (17.8), 15th in assist/turnover ratio (1.06), 55th in field goal percentage (42.0) and 122nd in scoring offense (64.6). Alex Smith ranks within the top-50 in the nation with her 5.6 assists per game (21st). Smith also ranks in the top-50 with her 2.7 three-pointers made per game, currently ranking 29th. She ranks within the top-100 in assist/turnover ratio, sitting in 69th (1.60). Amy Lepley ranks 43rd nationally with her 51.4 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 in Boston, Mass. 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 508-294 as head coach (63.3 winning percentage), including a 12-8 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 returns to the road for a Saturday afternoon contest at Colgate on Saturday, Jan. 28. The game will be broadcast live on local television and begins at 4:00 p.m. in Hamilton, N.Y.
SCOUTING ARMY: Army enters the game with an overall record of 9-11 on the season, including a 3-7 record on the road. The Black Knights are 3-2 in their last five contests, including a 40-39 loss to American the last time out. Junior guard Anna Simmers leads the team and ranks third in the league offensively with an average of 13.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Jen Hazlett leads the team defensively with 7.6 rebounds per game and also posts 12.7 points per game, ranking fourth in the league. The team as a whole is averaging 56.2 points per game while giving up an average of 54.3 points per game. Head coach Dave Magarity is in his sixth season as head coach of the Army program. He owns a career record of 407-409 in 29 years of coaching.