Women's Basketball Heads To Massachusetts For First Road Game

Kate Gillespie

Complete release in PDF format

The Teams: Holy Cross (1-3, 0-0 PL) vs. Massachusetts (1-4, 0-0 A10)
Date: November 25, 2012
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: William D. Mullins Memorial Center (9,943), Amherst, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: GoHolyCross.com, internet, Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
UMass Radio: WMUA 91.1 FM, Amherst, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: UMass All-Access, www.UmassAthletics.com/allaccess/
Unofficial Live Statistics: UMassAthletics.com
Series Record: Series tied, 9-9
In Overtime Games: UMass leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 76, Massachusetts 64 (Hart Center, Worcester, Mass.)

Pos., No., Name, Ht., Cl.
C, 50, Emily Parker, 6-2, So.
F, 34, Christine Ganser, 6-1, Jr.
F, 31, Raquel Scott, 6-0, Fr.
G, 2, Brisje Malone, 5-9, Jr.
G, 22, Alex Smith, 5-8, Jr.

THE SERIES WITH MASSACHUSETTS: This will be the 19th meeting between the Crusaders and the Minutemen. The series between the two squads is tied at nine games apiece, as Holy Cross enters the contest with a one-game winning streak. Last season, the Crusaders defeated the Minutemen by a score of 76-54 on November 22, 2011 at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. Head coach Bill Gibbons is 6-9 all-time versus the Minutemen, while Massachusetts head coach Sharon Dawley is 5-1.

AT THE MULLINS CENTER: Since the Mullins Center opened in 1993, UMass has posted a 5-1 record over the Crusaders when playing in Amherst. The Minutemen have won the last two contests played at the Mullins Center with a 75-50 win on January 5, 2011, and a 64-55 victory on November 20, 2005. The only contest Holy Cross has won at the Mullins Center came on November 23, 2003, when the Crusaders won by a score of 68-63. The only overtime contest between the two teams came in a UMass, 62-57, victory at the Mullins Center.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ATLANTIC-10: In its program history, Holy Cross has played 11 of the 16 teams currently in the Atlantic-10 Conference (Dayton, Fordham, Temple, George Washington, Rhode Island, Xavier, St. Joseph's, La Salle, Massachusetts, Richmond and St. Louis). In addition to the game versus UMass, the Crusaders will also travel to play A-10 opponent Fordham, on Jan. 6. The Crusaders hold an impressive 63-32 record against Atlantic-10 teams. The match-up with Fordham will be the 40th time the two teams square off as the Crusaders hold a 31-8 record.  

SLOW START TO SEASON: After a convincing 87-71 victory over Yale in the season opener on Nov. 9, the Crusaders have dropped three games in a row to Boston College (52-71), New Hampshire (65-68) and Harvard (62-80). Holy Cross has begun the last three seasons with an identical 1-4 record overall as the team finished with a 10-20 record in 2010-2011, and a 19-15 record in 2011-2012.

SMITH STEPPING UP FOR CRUSADERS: Junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) has been the offensive leader for the Crusaders during the first part of this season. The 5'8" co-captain leads the team with 15.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. She has also collected 4.3 rebounds per contest and has drained 33.3 percent of her three-point attempts (10-of-30). She has scored at least 14 points in every contest this season with her best game coming versus Yale, as the junior posted 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to lead Holy Cross to an 87-71 victory over the Bulldogs. For her stellar play a season ago, Smith was named to the first-team All-Patriot League as she averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Prior to this year, she was voted to the 2012-2013 preseason All-Patriot League team. 

PARKER WORKING HARD IN THE POST: Sophomore forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) has been a strong presence in the frontcourt for the Crusaders this season. Through four games, Parker is second on the squad with 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per contest. She scored a season-best 18 points versus Yale in the season opener as she grabbed seven rebounds in the game against Boston College. Parker is coming off a solid freshman campaign in which she took home Patriot League All-Rookie team accolades in 2011-2012. Last year, the 6'2" Parker played the number five position on the floor for the Crusaders as she appeared in 32 contests, starting in 31 of them. A season ago, she averaged 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, while also blocking a team-best 38 shots. Her points mark was third on the squad, while her rebound average was second.

MALONE PLAYS KEY MINUTES IN BACKCOURT: Junior guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) has done well this season both offensively and defensively for Holy Cross. Through four games, Malone leads the team with 34.2 minutes player per contest and averages 11.3 points and 4.3 assists. She is first on the team with a 1.9 assist/turnover ratio and leads the squad with 10 steals on the season. In the season opener versus Yale, Malone scored a career-high 23 points. During the 2011-12 campaign, Malone played in all 34 games in and started in all but one. She averaged 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in just under 30 minutes per contest.

GANSER STEPPING INTO STARTING ROLE: Junior forward Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) has filled in nicely for the Crusaders starting lineup. Through four games, she is fourth on the team with 10.5 points per contest and leads the team with an average of 7.0 rebounds. Her best game of the season came against Harvard, as she posted a season-high 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds. In 2011-2012, she averaged 19.5 minutes of playing time and put up totals of 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Ganser also performed well from the charity stripe last year as she converted on 76.5 percent of her free throws, which was second best on the team.

SCOTT LEARNING QUICKLY FOR CRUSADERS: Freshman forward Raquel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) has begun her first collegiate season as a key contributor for Holy Cross. In the first four games, Scott is fifth on the team with 7.8 points and third with 4.3 rebounds per contest. In her first start versus New Hampshire, Scott posted 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 36 minutes of action. As a starter in the past two games, she has averaged 11.0 points, 5.5 caroms and 2.5 helpers.

FRESHMAN FRENZY: Holy Cross adds five new faces to this year's team with a large freshman class. Guards Lisa Mifsud (Erie, Pa.), Kate Gillespie (Washington, D.C.) and Jenn Walsh (Dallas, Texas) all were league champions for their respective high schools. Gillespie was also named Washington D.C. Gatorade girls basketball player of the year as a senior. In the front court, Raquel Scott and Molly Hourigan (Memphis, N.Y.) add size to an already tall front line. The 6'0" Scott comes from Immaculate Heart Academy, while the 6'4" Hourigan is the team's only center and is from Jordan-Elbridge. All five freshmen have seen action this season. Mifsud is averaging 4.3 points in 18.0 minutes per contest as she scored 11 points in the season opener versus Yale. Gillespie has made two starts for the Crusaders and averages 7.3 minutes per game.

OFF THE BENCH: With some early season injuries, many bench players have stepped up for the Crusaders. Senior forward Kaitlin Cole (Springfield, Pa.) has been a spark on the defensive side of the ball as she averages 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 12.5 minutes per game. In the Yale game, Cole posted career-highs with six rebounds and four steals, while versus Boston College, she also added a career-best three assists. Sophomore forward Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) averages 9.8 minutes per contest with 3.3 points and a team-high 1.0 blocks per game. She saw action in 24 games last year with 35 total rebounds. Alexis Nicholas (Jamaica, N.Y.) has seen playing time in three games this year.

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the 2012-2013 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 70 points and one first place vote. Navy was chosen to finish first, receiving eight first-place votes as junior Jade Geif was voted preseason Patriot League Player of the Year. The Mids earned a league-high 89 points and was followed by American, who received six first place votes and 85 points. Army was picked fourth with 66 points and one first place vote, while Lehigh (58 points) and Lafayette (30 points) were selected fifth and sixth, respectively.  Bucknell and Colgate tied for seventh in the poll with 25 points each. 

LEPLEY AND SMITH NAMED 2012-2013 TEAM CAPTAINS: The two leading scorers for the Crusaders last year, Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) and Alex Smith were named captains for the 2012-2013 season. Smith is coming off first-team All-Patriot League honors last year as she started in all 34 games. She averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Her assist mark was tops in the Patriot League, while her points average was fifth. Lepley was named to the second-team All-Patriot League a season ago as she led the Crusaders with 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. Her points-per-game average was third in the Patriot League, while her field goal percentage of 0.499 was also third-best. In addition, both players were also selected to the 2012-2013 preseason All-Patriot League.     

CAPTAINS NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: After coming off great campaigns a season ago, Lepley and Smith were chosen to the preseason All-Patriot League team in a vote by conference sports information directors and head coaches. The duo joins the team with Army senior forward Anna Simmers, and two juniors, American's Alexis Dobbs and Navy's Jade Geif. Lepley and Smith were key contributors to last-year's Patriot League runner-up finish as they started in all 34 games for the Crusaders. Also, the pair was selected to the Patriot League All-Tournament team last year.

HELP ME HELP YOU: Last season, Holy Cross was ranked ninth in the country and first in the Patriot League with 16.9 assists per contest and that largely had to do with junior guards Alex Smith and Brisje Malone. This year, the pair has combined for 35 of Holy Cross' 68 assists with a combined average of 8.8 per game. Smith is first in the Patriot League in helpers, while Malone is tied for second. A season ago, Smith was tops in the conference with 5.5 helpers per game, while Malone was just behind her with 3.6 assists. The 1-2 combo of Smith and Malone at the guard position will help create many great shot opportunities for the Crusader shooters.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The Crusaders are approaching this season with the theme of "unfinished business," as it is looking to capture the Patriot League crown for the 12th time in the program's history. Last season, the Crusaders made it to the Patriot League championship game for the first time since 2008, after knocking off top-seeded American in the semifinals. However, the team fell to Navy in the title game, 57-48, one win shy of going to the NCAA Tournament. The goal is to get back into the Patriot League Championship game and claim their first NCAA tournament automatic bid since the 2006-2007 season.

1,000 POINTS MILESTONE IN REACH FOR PAIR: Lepley and Smith are on pace to reach the 1,000 career points milestone this season. Lepley is only 48 points shy from the historic mark and would become the 28th player to score 1,000 points. She is also in reach to finish her career in the top-15 on the all-time career points list. Smith is 210 points away from the 1,000 point milestone and would the 11th player to reach the mark during their junior season. Smith also has a chance to get into the top-20 on the all-time scoring list by season's end.

"SMITH"-SONIAN LEAVING MARK IN RECORD BOOK: Alex Smith is currently in the top-10 in three categories in the Holy Cross record book. Smith is fourth in career three-pointers made with 177, with Bethany O'Dell holding the record of 277 from 2006-2010. She needs three treys for the third spot on the list, and 8 from being second in the record book.  Another mark in the record book is Smith's 477 three-pointers attempted, which is sixth all-time behind O'Dell's 700 shots. She is three away from passing the fifth place mark of 479. Smith is also fifth on the list in three-point percentage as she connects on 37.4 percent of her shots from behind the arc. She currently holds the Crusader single-season mark for three-pointers attempted with 227, which was accomplished last year. Also in 2011-12, Smith posted the second-best mark in the record book for three pointers converted with 85 treys. Smith is also the record holder with the most minutes played in a season with 1199 in 2011-12 and is tied for most games played in a season with 34, also accomplished last year.

HOLY CROSS' HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE: The Crusaders are coming off one of their best offensive seasons in recent years, as the team led the Patriot League in many shooting categories. Holy Cross led the conference with 2144 total points, which averaged to 63.1 points per contest. The Crusaders also held the best field goal percentage in the league as they connected on 41.3 percent of their shots. Holy Cross' three-point mark in the Patriot League was second only to Navy, as they hit 178 treys and converted on 32.6 percent of their shots from downtown. In the season opener against Yale, the Crusaders scored 87 points which was the most in an opening game since the 1988-89 season. The Crusaders are currently tops in the Patriot League with 66.5 points per contest.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders finished the 2011-2012 season ranked among the top 125 in the NCAA Division I leaders for five statistical categories. In addition, several players ended the year among the top 200 in the nation in individual statistics. The rankings:

Assists Rank    Player/Team Avg./Pct.
Assists 9   Holy Cross 16.9
  18   Alex Smith 5.5
  164   Brisje Malone 3.6
Assist-Turnover Ratio 22   Holy Cross 1.01

90   Alex Smith 1.48
  188   Brisje Malone 1.14
Field Goal Percentage 36   Amy Lepley 49.9
  63   Holy Cross 41.3
Three-Pointers Made 36   Alex Smith 2.5
  123   Holy Cross 5.2
Three-Point Percentage 38   Alex Smith 37.1
  68   Holy Cross 32.6
Free-Throw Percentage 167   Christine Ganser 76.5
Steals 168   Alex Smith 2.06
Blocks 188   Emily Parker 1.19


FOR OPENERS:  With the win over Yale, Holy Cross owns a 22-17 record in its opening game of the season. This year was the 23rd time the Crusaders opened the regular season at the Hart Center. In season openers at the Hart Center, Holy Cross is now 13-10 and ended its three-game losing streak. The team won its first season-opener under the guidance of Bill Gibbons on Nov. 23, 1985 away at Eastern Michigan. Since Gibbons took over as head coach, the Crusaders stand at 17-11 in openers. Over the past 10 years, Holy Cross is 4-6 on opening day, defeating Providence (68-48, 2004-2005), Northeastern (76-60, 2005-2006) and most recently Yale (68-56, 2006-2007, 87-71, 2012-2013), while falling to St. Peter's (87-76, 2003-2004), Vermont (54-45, 2007-2008) and Yale (65-63, 2008-2009, 66-60, 2009-2010, 74-71, 2010-2011, 77-71, 2011-2012).

HOME SWEET HOME: Holy Cross boasts a very strong record when playing at the Hart Center. In the 37 years of the women's program, the Crusaders have an all-time record winning percentage of 0.744 when playing their games at home (344-120). Since Holy Cross went to Division I during the 1982-83 season, they hold an even better 0.766 winning percentage with a record of 305-95 at the Hart Center.

CRUSADERS HAVE 11 PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWNS: Five years ago, the Crusaders captured their 11th Patriot League Tournament Crown with a 56-48 victory over American on March 7, 2007. Holy Cross has won half of the 22 Patriot League Championships since the conference's inception during the 1990-91 season. The Crusaders' previous tournament titles came in 2005, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1993 and 1991. Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game 11 times over the past 15 years. Overall the Crusaders have made a conference-record 16 appearances in the Patriot League championship game.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: On Wednesday, November 28, Holy Cross will play its final home game during the 2012 calendar year, as it will host Central Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center. After the game, the Crusaders will play eight games in a row on the road.

GIBBONS AT THE HELM FOR 28TH SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 28th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 32nd as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2012-2013. He has compiled a 516-304 record as head coach (.629 winning percentage), including a 19-15 record at the helm last season. He ranks 20th on the active Division I win leaders list after winning his 500th game on December 3, 2011. 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 11 Patriot League Championships in the last 22 years. He has also made 13 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments, one WNIT and one WBI) in his 27 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 515 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.

ON THE RADIO: Most of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2012-2013 season will be carried live over the internet. The games will be streamed by Stretch Internet free of charge, will links to the broadcasts available at 'www.GoHolyCross.com'. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre will be in his 26th season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their ninth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. WCHC 88.1 FM, the Holy Cross student station, will also carry a number of games this year.

ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross will have at least four games shown on live television during the 2012-2013 season. The Crusaders had seven television appearances last year, while appearing on television five times in 2010-11 and six times in 2009-10. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2012-2013 season:

Date, Opponent, Television Outlet

Dec. 8, at Quinnipiac, NESN

Jan. 16, vs. Navy, Charter TV3

Feb. 10, at Lehigh, CBS Sports Network

Feb. 27, vs. Army, Charter TV3

PATRIOT LEAGUE ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of most Patriot League regular season games during the 2012-2013 season will be available over the internet through Patriot League All-Access. The package, done in association with CBS College Sports Online, is available for a monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Patriot League All-Access, visit "www.patriotleague.org".

CRUSADER VISION: Live video streaming of most 2012-2013 Holy Cross home non-conference games will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available for $8.95 per game. Season packages are also available for men's basketball only ($29.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, visit 'www.GoHolyCross.com'.

ON THE INTERNET: Information on Crusader basketball and all 26 other varsity sports is available through the Holy Cross Athletics home page at "www.GoHolyCross.com". In addition, links to Holy Cross basketball audio broadcasts and live video streaming can be found on the home page. Updates on Holy Cross Athletics can also be found at "www.facebook.com/HolyCrossAthletics" and "www.twitter.com/GoHolyCross".

EMAIL ALERTS: Get all the latest news and results on the Holy Cross women's basketball team sent directly to your e-mail. To sign up for e-mail alerts, visit 'www.GoHolyCross.com/list-signup'.


2012-2013 SQUAD:
Massachusetts has a record of 1-4 overall and is on a four-game losing streak, dropping games to Central Connecticut (69-78), Quinnipiac (72-81), Notre Dame (50-94), and Hartford (65-71). Their one win this season was in the opener versus Kent State as the Minutemen won by a score of 83-53. UMass was selected 15th in the Atlantic-10 preseason poll, while senior center Jasmine Watson earned a spot on the preseason A-10 All-Conference second team. Watson leads the team with 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest. Emily Mital is second on the squad with 14.8 points per game, while Rashida Tambilla averages 10.0 points and 7.8 caroms per game. Last season, UMass finished 8-21 overall and 3-11 in conference play. 

Head coach Sharon Dawley enters her third season at the helm of the Minutemen. She holds a 15-44 record as the coach of Massachusetts with one appearance in the first round of the A-10 tournament in 2010-11. Prior to UMass, Dawley was the head coach at Vermont, where she captured two America East Championship and two postseason victories (one NCAA, one WNIT). She holds a 5-1 record in games versus Holy Cross, with four wins as the head coach of the Catamounts. Her overall record as a Division I head coach is 143-130.