Women's Basketball Hosts Saint Peter's

Nov. 24, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

The Teams: Holy Cross (2-2, 0-0 PL) vs. Saint Peter's (0-2, 0-0 MAAC)
Date: November 25, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600) Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; www.sportsjuice.com, internet.
Series Record: Saint Peter's leads, 13-9
Last Meeting: Saint Peter's 56, Holy Cross 41 (January 2, 2008; Jersey City, N.J.)

Pos.  No.  Name                   Ht.     Cl.    PPG    RPG
F       33   Whitney Fremeau  5-10   So.    7.3     4.7
G      14   Briana McFadden    5-10   Jr.   18.3     5.3
F       20  Jessica Merrihue     6-3    Sr.     6.0     0.7
G      21   Meredith Ward       5-8    Fr.     3.3     1.3
G      44   Bethany O'Dell       5-8    Jr.   11.3     5.3


THE SERIES WITH SAINT PETER'S: This will be the 23rd meeting between the Crusaders and the Peahens on the hardwood. Saint Peter's holds a 13-9 advantage in the all-times series, including two wins in the last two meetings. Holy Cross leads the series at the Hart Center with a 7-2 record. Last season, Saint Peter's defeated Holy Cross, 56-41, on Jan. 2, 2008 at the Yanitelli Center. The Crusaders last victory was on Nov. 28, 2005, defeating the Peahens, 65-56, at the Hart Center.

MERRIHUE AND PEARSON NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior forward Jessica Merrihue (Holtsville, N.Y.) and senior guard Jessica Pearson (West Chester, Pa.) have been selected as the Crusaders' captains for the 2008-2009 season. Merrihue is three-year letterwinner for the Holy Cross while Pearson is a two-year letterwinner. Both players will take over the leadership role from Laura Aloisi and Ashley McLaughlin who served as the Crusaders' captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.

THAT'S MINE!!!: Holy Cross has started off strong in forced turnovers, totaling 54 in three games, averaging 18.0 per game. In the Crusaders' season-opener against Yale, Holy Cross forced 24 turnovers, matching last year's season-high. The Crusaders recorded 24 turnovers in three games during the 2007-2008 season at Yale on Jan. 6, 2008, at Navy on Jan. 23, 2008 and hosting Colgate on Jan. 30, 2008. Against Boston College on Nov. 18, the Crusaders had 21 forced turnovers.

HOME SWEET HOME: The 2008-2009 season marks the first time Holy Cross has ever hosted its first four games of the season. Prior to this season, the Crusaders had three seasons in which they hosted the first three games: 1988-1989 (1-2), 2001-2002 (1-2) and 2004-2005 (2-1). Overall, the Holy Cross women's basketball team is 317-93 (.773) at the Hart Center.

THE DYNAMIC DUO RETURNS: Junior guards Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) and Bethany O'Dell (Lincolnd, R.I.) will be the leaders of an experienced and deep Crusader backcourt this year. Both McFadden and O'Dell top the team in rebounds with 16 each, averaging 5.3 per game. McFadden has started out strong on offense this season, leading the Crusaders in scoring in all three games with 24 points against Yale, 21 versus Boston College and 10 against Harvard. McFadden etched her named into the Holy Cross history books last season as she tied the single-game record for free throw percentage (1.000, 11-for-11) and consecutive free throws made (11). Starting in all 32 games, McFadden totaled 431 points, 124 rebounds, 50 assists, 30 steals and 12 blocks. Averaging 13.5 points per game, McFadden led the Crusaders in scoring in 14 games last season, including eight Patriot League games. Versus Boston College, O'Dell tallied 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. Opening the season against Yale, O'Dell finished with 10 points, four rebounds, one block and one steal. O'Dell stayed strong against Harvard, leading the team in rebounds with eight and finishing with six points, three assist and one steal in 38 minutes played. O'Dell is also coming off a stellar sophomore year, starting in all 32 games, and finishing with 364 points, 146 rebounds, 80 assists, 54 steals and four blocks. O'Dell had success from long range last year, as she ranked third in the Patriot League in three-point field goal percentage (.382) and three-point field goals made (1.97 per game).

CRUSADERS PICKED FIRST IN PRESEASON POLL: The Holy Cross women's basketball team has been picked to finish first in the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, voted upon by head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 90 total points and eight first-place votes, followed by Lehigh finishing second with 83 points and six first-place votes. American was ranked third with 75 points and two first-place votes. Coming in fourth was Army with 60 points, followed by Bucknell (53 points), Lafayette (38 points), Navy (35 points) and Colgate (14 points).

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

CAMPBELL LOOKING FORWARD: Sophomore forward Elizabeth Campbell (Louisville, Ky.) returns to the Crusaders' frontcourt for the 2008-2009 season, tallying 16 minutes played, six points and three rebounds against Yale. Campbell also played 10 minutes against Harvard, chipping in two points, two blocks, one rebound and one assist. Following an outstanding debut season, she was named to the 2007-2008 Patriot League All-Rookie Team. Appearing in 32 games, she made 11 starts, totaling 664 minutes played, 196 points, 135 rebounds, 36 blocks and 28 steals. Leading the Crusaders in blocks, Campbell ranked fifth in the Patriot League in that category. She also led the league in field goal percentage (.472). In league play, Campbell started in eight of the 13 games she appeared in, averaging 28.8 minutes played, 8.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 assists per game.

FRONT AND CENTER: Senior center Kathy Gruzynski has moved into the starting lineup for the 2008-2009 season, starting against Yale on Nov. 15. She played a season-high 21 minutes versus Boston College on Nov. 18 and tallied five points, five rebounds, three blocks and one assist in 14 minutes played versus Harvard on Nov. 20. Making 30 appearances and three starts last year, Gruzynksi emerged in her role as the first Crusader off the bench. She set several career-highs with 408 minutes played, 134 points, 96 rebounds, 18 assists, 13 blocks and 10 steals. Her season averages included 13.6 minutes played, 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. During league play, she appeared in 12 games and made one start. She averaged 16.0 minutes played, 6.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. In her best performance of the season, Gruzynski scored a career-high 20 points and chipped in six rebounds against regular season champion American.

HITTING NEW HEIGHTS: Since the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, seven members of the Holy Cross women's basketball team have recorded new career-highs. Briana McFadden and Kathy Gruzynski both set new career-highs in blocks with three each. Tayana Carper set a new career-high in blocks with three versus Boston College. Whitney Fremeau recorded new highs in points (nine), rebounds (eight) and minutes played (26) against Yale. Jessica Merrihue set a new career-best in steals with three versus Yale. Meredith Ward's new career-highs include points (seven), rebounds (three), assists (three), steals (two) and minutes played (27) all against Boston College.

VERSATITLY IS FREMEAU'S NEW ROLE: After joining the team last year, sophomore guard Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) looks to make a continued impact on the court in the upcoming season. Fremeau made her first collegiate start on Saturday, Nov. 15 versus Yale and put up a career-high nine points and eight rebounds while chipping in with two steals, one assist and one block in 26 minutes played. Starting against Boston College, Fremeau recorded 19 minutes played, eight points, two rebounds and one steal. During her third start of the season, Fremeau finished with 22 minutes played, five points and four rebounds. She's currently tied for third on the team in scoring with 7.3 points per game and third in rebounds with 4.7 per game. Appearing in 25 games last year, Fremeau totaled 42 points, 20 rebounds, 16 assists, 11 steals and two blocks. This season, Fremeau's versatility will be used in both the frontcourt and the backcourt, as she will play at both foward and guard.

LAST TIME OUT: Briana McFadden and Tayana Carper scored 10 points each but it wasn't enough as the Holy Cross women's basketball dropped a 73-57 decision to Harvard, on Nov. 20 at the Hart Center. Harvard grabbed an early 15-2 lead in the opening five minutes, led by Niki Finelli with eight points, including two three-pointers. Down by 10 with 8:44 left in the first half, Holy Cross rallied back with a 7-2 run, led by McFadden and Bethany O'Dell with three points each, making the score, 26-21. With 1:26 left before the break, Harvard went on a quick 6-2 drive, finishing the first half ahead by eight, 36-28. Early in the second half, Holy Cross went on 10-2 run, but Harvard maintained a slight lead over the Crusaders, 42-38. Holy Cross got within four points of the Crimson at the 12:02 mark (47-43), but Harvard continued to pile on the points. Back-and-forth traffic on the court kept the Crimson ahead, extending the lead to 17 points twice in the remaining five minutes. Harvard finished the game with a 16- point cushion, 73-57. Along with their 10 points, McFadden tallied three rebounds, three assists and two steals while Carper finished with two blocks, two rebounds and an assist. Alyssa May chipped in eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal for the Crusaders. Harvard was led by Finelli who had 15 points and six rebounds.

MAY BACK FOR MORE: Sophomore guard Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) had a stellar start to her career with the Crusaders during the 2007-2008 season, appearing in 31 games and making 14 starts. Versus Harvard on Nov. 20, she had eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal in 25 minutes played. To start this year, May had seven rebounds, five assists, three points and one steal in 28 minutes played against Yale. She finished with 570 minutes played, 107 points, 103 rebounds, 34 assists, 23 steals and seven blocks. May's debut season was highlighted by leading Holy Cross in scoring with 11 points and chipping in seven rebounds in the league championship game versus Bucknell.

ROOKIE NOTES: Freshman guard Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) has started in all three games so far for the Crusaders, highlighted by her performance against Boston College, tallying seven points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 27 minutes played. Freshman center Marygrace Jay (Vienna, Va.) made her second collegiate appearance against Harvard on No. 20.

CARPER ADDS DEPTH FOR CRUSADER BENCH: Junior forward/guard Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.) had a strong 2007-2008 season off the bench, appearing in 23 games and earning a spot in the starting lineup in four. So far this year, she tied leading the Crusaders in scoring against Harvard with 10 points while chipping in two rebounds, two blocks and one assist in 18 minutes played. Versus Boston College, she had nine points, three blocks, two rebounds two steals and one assist in 21 minutes played. Last year, she tallied 80 points, 51 rebounds, eight blocks and four steals. She also finished the season with a free-throw percentage of .625, after sinking 20 of 32 attempts. Carper's season was highlighted by her career-high 14 points and seven field goals, to go along with two blocks and two steals against Colgate. In league play, Carper appeared in nine games.

NEWS ON COACH GIBBONS: Bill Gibbons enters his 24th season as head coach of the Holy Cross women's basketball team with a overall career record of 463-231 and a 192-52 mark in the Patriot League. Last season, Gibbons led his team to its 10th consectutive appearance and 15th overall appearance in the Patriot League Championship game. Gibbons has led the Crusaders to more victories than any other coach in Holy Cross history during his 23-tenure. Gibbons also ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in coaching victories, for all sports, only behind former baseball coach Jack Berry (616 wins, 1921-1960). He has won 20 or more game in 10 of his last 14 seasons. Gibbons is also ranked 26th on the active NCAA Division I win leaders. He has also been named the Patriot League Coach of the Year six times in his career. In 2007, Coach Gibbons was selected to be an assistant coach at the Pan-American Games, where he helped lead the team to the gold medal.

CLEANING THE GLASS: Holy Cross has grabbed 99 rebounds in its first three games, averaging 33.0 per game. Bethany O'Dell and Briana McFadden both lead the team with 16 each, while Alyssa May currently has 15 and Whitney Fremeau with 14 boards.

THE LEADER OF THE PACK: Holy Cross holds the record for the most Patriot League tournament titles won, winning 11 in the 18 league titles. During its 18 seasons in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has finished in first place 11 times. The Crusaders have also been greatly recognized for their efforts by the league, having eight players named the Patriot League Player of the Year. This list includes: Mary Helen (90-91), Norinne Powers (91-92, 92-93), Laurie Carson (93-94), Lauren Maney (94-95, 95-96), Kathy Courtney (96-97), Amy O'Brien (97-98, 98-99), and Anna Kinne (99-00) and Briana McFadden (07-08). Holy Cross has also had two players named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year: Maggie Fontana (01-02) and Bethany O'Dell (06-07).

MERRIHUE STARTS FOR CRUSADERS: Senior forward Jessica Merrihue (Holtsville, N.Y.) has started in the last two game sfor Holy Cross. Versus Boston College on Nov. 18. She finished the game with six points, three blocks and one rebound in nine minutes played. Against Harvard on Nov. 20, she saw 13 minutes of time on the court and had six points.

WELCOME TO WORCESTER: Ann McInerney is entering her first season as an assistant coach on the Holy Cross staff.

NEXT UP FOR THE LADY `SADERS: Holy Cross will compete in the Mildred & Rogers L. White Invitational on Nov. 29-30, hosted by Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.