Women's Basketball Resumes Regular Season On Friday At Bryant

Kelly Hamner

Complete release in PDF format

The Teams: Holy Cross (4-5, 0-0 PL) vs. Bryant (4-4, 0-0 NEC)
Date: December 21, 2012
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: Chace Athletic Center (2,600), Smithfield, R.I.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Click here to listen
Live Video Streaming: NEC Front Row, Click here to watch
Unofficial Live Statistics: PrestoSports Primetime
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 5-1
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 82, Bryant 62 (December 21, 2011, Hart Center)

Pos., No., Name, Ht., Cl.
F, 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 BRYANT: This will be the seventh meeting between the Crusaders and the Bulldogs, with Holy Cross holding the 5-1 overall series lead. The Crusaders won the last contest exactly one year ago on December 21, 2011 by a score of 82-62. The Bulldogs currently stand at 4-4 on the season and are riding a four-game winning streak with victories over Brown (81-58), Columbia (68-54), Iona (77-71) and Maine (44-40). The Crusaders are 4-5 after dropping their last two games to Quinnipiac (61-49) on December 8 and Northeastern (70-48) on December 5. Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons is 3-1 versus the Bulldogs, while Bryant head coach Mary Burke is 1-3 versus the Crusaders.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE: In its program history, Holy Cross has played six of the 12 teams currently in the Northeast Conference (Bryant, Central Connecticut, Mt. St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Wagner). The Crusaders hold a 1-1 record against NEC opponents this season with a win over Central Connecticut (57-56) on November 28 and a loss to Quinnipiac in their last game. This game versus Bryant will be the final NEC foe Holy Cross will play this season. The Crusaders hold a 23-8 all-time versus the Northeast Conference with the Crusaders holding a winning record against every team.

CRUSADERS BACK FROM FINAL EXAMS: Holy Cross will play its first game in 13 days versus the Bulldogs after a hiatus due to final exams. The Crusaders will look to end a losing trend in games after finals, as they are 0-5 in contests played after the break over the last five seasons.

SMITH STEPPING UP FOR CRUSADERS: Junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) has been a key offensive leader for the Crusaders during the first part of this season. The 5'8" co-captain leads the team with 14.8 points, while dishing out 4.3 assists, both of which rank second in the Patriot League. She has also collected 4.4 rebounds per contest and has drained 37.0 percent of her three-point attempts (27 of 73). She leads the Patriot League with 3.0 three-pointers made per game. Smith has scored double-digits in eight of the nine contests this season, with her best all-around 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. She also tallied a season-high 20 points and connected on five three-pointers in the comeback win versus Massachusetts. In the win over Central Connecticut, Smith posted 16 points and tied her career-best with six steals. Smith hauled in a career-best 10 rebounds in the loss to Quinnipiac on Dec. 8, 2012. 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 nine games, Parker is third on the squad with 8.9 points, second with 5.6 rebounds and first with 0.9 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. In the win over Manhattan, Parker tallied nine points and a season-best nine rebounds. 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 nine games, Malone is second on the team with 34.8 minutes played per contest and averages 10.2 points and 4.7 assists. She is first in the Patriot League with a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio and is tied with Smith for the squad-lead with 14 steals on the season. Her 1.6 swipes per game is ninth in the Patriot League, while her assist to turnover ratio is tops in the conference. In the season opener versus Yale, Malone scored a career-high 23 points. Malone hit the game-winning bucket to lift Holy Cross over Central Connecticut as she posted a season-best nine assists. 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 nine games, she is fourth on the team with 8.8 points per contest and leads the squad with an average of 6.4 rebounds (ninth in the Patriot League). Her best game of the season came against Harvard, as she posted a season-high 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds. She also tallied 16 points and six rebounds in the win over UMass. Ganser is second on the team with a .682 free-throw percentage and first with 3.2 offensive rebounds per game. Her offensive rebounds mark is third in the Patriot League. 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 nine games, Scott is fifth on the team with 7.2 points and has 5.2 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. Her best game of the season came at Manhattan, as the freshman recorded the first Crusaders double-double of the season with a 10 point and 12 rebound effort with six offensive boards. Over her last three contests, Scott is averaging 9.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in 24.0 minutes of action.

HAMNER ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL: After missing the first six games of the season due to injury, junior guard Kelly Hamner (Manassas ,Va.) has slowly worked herself back into the Crusaders playing rotation. In the game versus Manhattan on Dec. 1, Hamner saw five minutes of action as she scored two points. On Dec. 5 against Northeastern, she played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points to go along with career-bests four assists and six rebounds. This season, Hamner is averaging 2.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per contest. In 2011-12, Hamner saw 16.4 minutes of playing time per game and averaged 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds.

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 4.1 points in 19.8 minutes per contest as she scored 11 points twice this season, versus Yale and Quinnipiac. Gillespie has made two starts for the Crusaders and averages 4.6 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 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 12.0 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. She registered a career-high 28 minutes of action versus UMass to go along with four swipes. Sophomore forward Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) has averaged 9.0 minutes per contest with 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. In the game versus Central Connecticut, Sullivan scored 13 points in the first half on six-of-six shooting, which was a career-high. She also connected on her first collegiate three-pointer in the game versus the Blue Devils. Sullivan made her first career start versus Manhattan and scored six points. Alexis Nicholas (Jamaica, N.Y.) has seen an average of 1.6 minutes of playing time this season and scored her first points of the season at Manhattan.

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 81 of Holy Cross' 147 assists with a combined average of 9.0 per game. Malone is first in the Patriot League with 4.7 assists per game, while Smith is just behind her with 4.3 helpers per contest. In the game versus Central Connecticut, the pair combined for 14 assists on the team's 22 made field goals.

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 122 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 second in career three-pointers made with 194, with Bethany O'Dell holding the record of 277 from 2006-2010. In the Central Connecticut game, Smith moved into the Patriot League's top-10 in made three-pointers. The conference's all-time leader, Alex Ross of Lehigh, made 286 three-pointers in her career. Another mark in the record book is Smith's 520 three-pointers attempted, which is fourth all-time behind O'Dell's 700 shots. In the game versus UMass, Smith jumped from sixth to fourth on the list. She is two three-point attempts away from passing the third place mark of 521 held by Anna Kinne. 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 fourth in the Patriot League with 60.3 points per contest.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked in the top 150 in the NCAA Division I leaders in fice statistical categories. In addition, Alex Smith and Brisje Malone are in the top 125 in the nation in several individual statistics. The rankings through games on Dec. 17:


Category    Rank    Player/Team        Avg./Pct.
Personal Fouls 14   Holy Cross 12.6
Three-Pointers Made 17   Alex Smith 3.0
Assists 28   Holy Cross 16.3
  69   Brisje Malone 4.7
  90   Alex Smith 4.3
Field-Goal Percentage 72
Holy Cross 41.4
Three-Point Percentage 88   Alex Smith 37.0
Assist/Turnover Ratio 96   Brisje Malone 1.56
  104   Holy Cross 0.82
Rebound Margin 103   Holy Cross 3.2


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 0.750 when playing their games at home (345-120). Since Holy Cross went to Division I during the 1982-83 season, they hold an even better 0.763 winning percentage with a record of 306-95 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: Holy Cross will enjoy the holiday break before returning to action on Friday, Dec. 28 as it travels to SEC-opponent Florida for a 7:00 p.m. start.

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 year as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2012-2013. He has compiled a 519-306 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, New England Sports Network
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'.

SCOUTING BRYANT: Bryant has a 4-4 record overall as it is currently on a four-game winning streak. The Bulldogs are currently tied for fourth in the Northeast Conference in overall record. Bryant was voted ninth in the NEC pre-season poll after coming off a 14-15 campaign in 2011-2012. Junior forward Naana Ankoma-Mensa leads the team with 12.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest. Third-year guard Courtney Schissler is second on the squad with 11.8 points and 7.5 boards per game. Junior guard Jenniqua Bailey averages 6.5 points and a team-best 3.6 assists per game. Bryant head coach Mary Burke enters her 22nd season at the helm of the Bulldogs. Entering the fifth season at the Division I level, Burke has a 52-72 record with the Bulldogs, and a 301-301 record overall.