December 2, 2005

Women's Basketball Faces Western Kentucky In ASU Tourney

Dec. 2, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
Date: Friday, December 2, 2005
Time: 8:30 p.m. MT/ 10:30 p.m. EST
Location: Tempe, Ariz.
Arena: Wells Fargo Arena
Capacity: 14, 141
Team Records:
Holy Cross 2-3 (0-0 Patriot League)
Western Kentucky 4-0 (0-0 Sun Belt)

Series History: First Meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Series Streak: n/a

Broadcast Information:
Internet: none.
Radio: none.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
Pos. No. Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG G 15 Shannon Bush 5-11 Sr. 12.3 3.5 G 05 Laura Aloisi 5-9 So. 6.3 4.0 G 33 Brittany Keil 6-2 Jr. 10.8 8.5 F 13 A. McLaughlin 6-2 So. 6.0 5.0 C 52 Kaitlin Foley 6-4 Jr. 15.0 7.8

THE SERIES WITH WESTERN KENTUCKY: Tonight's game is the first ever meeting between Holy Cross and Western Kentucky in the 31 seasons of varsity basketball at Holy Cross.

The SERIES VS. ARIZONA STATE: Saturday's game would be just the third-ever meeting between Holy Cross and Arizona State. The Sun Devils lead the all-time series, 2-0, after a 67-49 win over Holy Cross at the Northern Lights Invitational during the 1995-96 season, and most recently, an 81-56 win over the Crusaders at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass., during the 2003-04 campaign.

The SERIES VS. MEMPHIS: Saturday's game would be the first ever meeting between Holy Cross and Memphis.

THIS TIME OUT: The Crusaders are most recently coming off a 67-53 loss to Boston College of the ACC on Wednesday night. Holy Cross is 2-3 this season and has lost two of its last three contests. The Crusaders will try to get back to the .500 mark tonight against an undefeated Western Kentucky team, which is averaging 81 points a game this season.

The Crusaders finished the month of November with a 2-3 mark and are 1-0 when playing on Friday nights this season.

LAST TIME OUT: Kindyll Dorsey scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Boston College women's basketball team to a 67-53 non-conference win over Holy Cross on Wednesday night at Conte Forum.

Junior center Kaitlin Foley tied for team-high honors with 14 points and led the team with six rebounds. Senior guard Shannon Bush also had 14 points for the Crusaders. Senior guard Jessica Conte had nine points, three rebounds and two steals, while sophomore guard Laura Aloisi chipped in seven points and three assists.

The Crusaders were down by just six points (29-23) at the half, despite a lopsided 18-6 points-in-the-paint advantage for Boston College. Both teams were cold to start the game, as it took 2:29 before either team got on the board. The Eagles then scored seven straight points to go up 7-0 in the early going, but Holy Cross cut the lead to two after a Sarah Placek three-ball with 11:56 to go in the half. Just over three minutes later, a Jessica Conte trey tied the game at 14-14, but the deadlock was short-lived as BC answered with a 12-2 run over the next 5:17 to take a 25-16 lead with 3:21 left.

Holy Cross outscored the Eagles 7-4 over the next 1:54 cut the lead to six going into the break.

Boston College jumped out to a 37-25 lead in the first three minutes of the second stanza after opening the half on an 8-2 run. The Crusaders cut the lead to nine (45-36) after a Kaitlin Foley turnaround in the paint at the 11:00 mark, but the Eagles responded with a 14-3 run to take their largest lead of the game (20 points; 59-39) with 6:41 left.

Holy Cross cut the lead to 14 on two different occasions after that, but would not get any closer. The Crusaders shot .380 percent from the floor on the night, while the Eagles converted on .492 percent of their field goal attempts, inlcuding a .556 mark in the second half. BC also had a 40-27 rebounding advantage.

NEXT TIME OUT: Tomorrow, the Crusaders will face either #13 Arizona State or Memphis in the second round of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic at the Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. The consolation game will be held at 6:00 EST and the championship game is slated for 8:30 p.m. EST. The Crusaders have twice lost to Arizona State (2003-04 ASU, 81-56 at the Hart Center; 1995-96 ASU, 67-49 at the Northern Lights Invitational) in the 31 year history of the program. Holy Cross has never played Memphis.

Following the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic, the Crusaders return home for a 6:00 p.m. match-up with Rhode Island on Wednesday, Dec. 7, before hitting the road again for four straight away games (at Connecticut, vs. Boston University and Yale or UVA at the Cavalier Classic (Charlottesville, Va.), and at Maine).

McLAUGHLIN BACK IN ACTION: Sophomore forward Ashley McLaughlin (Andover, Mass.) saw her first action of the season Monday night after missing the first three games due to injury. McLaughlin started the game and made her presence felt in her 27 minutes of action, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds, to go along with an assist and steal for the Crusaders.

The six-foot-two forward had four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes of playing time at Boston College on Wednesday night.

LEAGUE LEADERS: A number of Crusaders are ranked in the top 3 among Patriot League leaders so far this season. Junior guard Brittany Keil (Sparta, N.J.) leads the league in free throw percentage (1.000 percent; 12-for-12), while senior guard Shannon Bush (Doylestown, Pa.) ranks second in the league with 95.2 percent (20-for-21) accuracy, and sophomore guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) is third at a 90.9 (10-for-11) clip.

Aloisi also leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.44) and ranks third overall in assists (4.40 assists per game). In addition, Keil is second in the league in blocked shots (1.20 blocks per game), while junior center Kaitlin Foley (Albany, N.Y.) ranks third in the league in scoring (14.8 points per game).

Further, Aloisi is tied for third in blocked shots (1.00 blocks per game), while Bush ranks third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio with a +1.67 (15 assists; nine turnovers) ratio.

GETTING TO THE LINE: Holy Cross ranks first in the Patriot League in team free throw percentage, converting 78.9 percent of their foul shots. Coming into Monday's game against Saint Peter's, the Crusaders had been shooting an impressive 92.7 percent (51-of-55). The Purple and White had their worst shooting day from the charity stripe against the Peahens, only making just 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the line. The Crusaders had another tough night at the charity stripe against Boston College on Wednesday, making only 5-of-10 attempts (50.0 percent).

TOUGH `D': The Crusaders are also ranked first in the League in field goal percentage defense and are third in turnover margin. Through five games, Holy Cross is holding its opponents to 39.3 percent shooting from the field. In Monday's game against Saint Peter's, Holy Cross held the Peahens to a season-low 27.5 percent from the floor. In addition, the Crusaders have a +1.40 turnover margin, averaging 14.4 turnovers per game, while forcing 15.8 turnovers per game.

HEATHLY PROPORTIONS: As a team, Holy Cross ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio (+0.96), averaging 13.8 assists per game to its 14.4 turnovers per game. Guards Laura Aloisi and Shannon Bush are ranked first and third, respectively, in the Patriot League in assist-to-turnover ratio. Aloisi has a +2.44 ratio (22 assists to nine turnovers) and Bush has a +1.67 mark (15 assists to nine turnovers).

KEIL STYLE: In addition to leading the league in free throw percentage (1.000 percent), Brittany Keil is also ranked second in the league in blocked shots (1.20 blocks per game), ninth in rebounding (7.2 rebounds per game) and is tied for 22nd in scoring (8.6 points per game).

Keil has recorded two double-doubles through four games this season. She posted her first career double-double at Northeastern (16 points, 11 rebounds), and registered the second double-double of her career after an 11-point, 10-rebound performance against Dartmouth.

Keil is also 12-for-12 (1.000 percent) from the free throw line this season. Last year, Maggie Fontana `05 set a new program record with 26 consecutive free throws (across five games).

PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF: Sophomore point guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) is once again leading the team in assists (22 assists) and assists per game (4.40 apg) this season. The second year playmaker now has 141 career assists, after her rookie campaign in which she led the team and finished second in the Patriot League with 119 helpers.

Aloisi also leads the Patriot League in assist-to-turnover ratio, is tied for third in the conference in blocked shots (1.00 blocks per game) and ranks third in free throw percentage (10-for-11; 90.9 percent)

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Coming off a 17 point game against Saint Peter's, junior center Kaitlin Foley had another impressive night at BC, tying for team-high honors with 14 points. The Albany, N.Y., native also grabbed six caroms and came up with three steals and two assists in 36 minutes of playing time.

Foley recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds at UMass ten days ago. Through four games this season, Foley is averaging team-best 15.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

In the season-opener at Northeastern on Friday, Foley had career-highs in points (18), rebounds (then, nine), and minutes played (33). After backing up All-League performer and since-graduated Lisa Andrews the past three seasons, Foley has come into her own, and is currently averaging almost five times as many points and rebounds than her career averages coming into the season (3.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg).

The six-foot-four center is shooting .467 percent (28-for-60) from the floor and .818 percent (18-for-22) from the free throw line.

BUSH HEATS UP: Senior guard Shannon Bush had 14 points at BC on Wednesday after another fine all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 24 minutes of action on Monday night against Saint Peter's. Her 12.6 points per game average is second best on the team. She is also averaging 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals.

Bush scored a career-high 20 points in the second game of the season at UMass. The five-foot-11 shooting guard was 6-for-14 from the floor and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

SHARPSHOOTER: Senior guard Jessica Conte (New Canaan, Conn.) had a perfect shooting night on Wednesday at Boston College, going 3-for-3 from the floor, inlcuding a 2-for-2 night from behind the arc and a 1-for-1 showing at the free throw line for nine points, after a 3-for-6 night (nine points) on Monday against Saint Peter's. Conte scored perhaps the most important hoop of the night against the Peahens, when she nailed a three-ball to cut the Saint Peter's lead to one (41-40) with just over 11 minutes remaining. Conte's three-ball then triggered what would be a 14-0 Crusader run, which essentially gave Holy Cross the lead for good.

Conte has reached double-figures in three out of five games this season. She is currently third on the team with a 9.2 points per game average and fourth on the team with 4.2 rebounds per game.

GRUZ GETS HER FEET WET: Freshman forward Kathy Gruzynski (Elk Grove, Ill.) continues to contribute in the paint for the Crusaders. The six-foot-two post player scored four points and grabbed two rebounds in eight minutes of action against Saint Peter's on Monday night. Gruzynski was coming off a career day against Dartmouth in which she scored five points and added her first block in nine minutes of action.

At UMass, Gruzynski grabbed a career-high five rebounds in nine minutes of action.

COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Sarah Placek came into the season with 810 career points and she is now just 156 points away from being the program's 22nd 1,000 point scorer. Should Placek reach the 1,000 point plateau, it would mark the third consecutive season a Holy Cross women's basketball player joined the 1,000 point club (Lisa Andrews in 2004-05, Maggie Fontana in 2003-04). Placek would also be the sixth Holy Cross player in the last four years (Andrews in 2004-05, Fontana in 2003-04, and Katie O'Keefe, Jeanette Paukert and Amanda Abraham in 2001-02) to score 1,000 career points.

Placek needs to average 7.0 points per game this year to reach the 1,000 point mark in the regular season. She is currently averaging 6.8 points per game.

In her three years in a Holy Cross uniform, the five-foot-three guard has never finished a season with an average below 8.5 points per game. Her sophomore season, she averaged a career-best 10.5 points per game. Placek's career high in a single game is 23 points (Dec. 7, 2004 at Rhode Island).

BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Holy Cross has been outrebounded 90-61 in the last two games, and has been outrebounded 217-177 (-40) overall this season, including a 92-62 (-30) disadvantage on the offensive glass. The Crusaders, are, however 2-2 on the year when outrebounded.

SCOUTING THE HILLTOPPERS: Western Kentucky comes into tonight's game undefeated at 4-0 after wins over Louisiana Tech (80-59), Charlotte (87-80), Murray State (86-59), and most recently, Louisville (71-61).

The Hilltoppers have three players averaging double-figures, with Crystal Kelly's 26.5 points per game average leading the squad. Kelly also leads the team in rebounding with a 12.0 rebounds per game average. Tiffany Porter-Talbert is second on the team in scoring with 20.0 points per game, and Charlotte Marshall is third with a 10.0 points per game average.

HOLY CROSS VERSUS THE SUN BELT: Western Kentucky is the only team from the Sun Belt conference that Holy Cross is scheduled to play this season. The only other Sun Belt teams Holy Cross has played in its history are Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

Holy Cross has an all-time record of 1-3 (.333) against Sun Belt teams. Bill Gibbons is also 1-3 against Sun Belt competition.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has an all-time record of 293-77 (.791) at the Hart Center, and is just seven home wins away from its 300th victory in the 30-year old building.

The program's 100th win at the Hart Center came on January 9, 1988 when the Crusaders defeated the University of New Hampshire, 86-67. It's 200th win at the Hart Center came on February 5, 1997 when the Crusaders defeated Army, 92-59. Holy Cross has played 114 home games since then, winning 92 of them (.807). The Crusaders' best home single-season record since its 200th win was a 15-1 mark (.937) during the 1999-00 season. Last year, the Crusaders went 12-3 at the Hart Center.

Holy Cross has posted a record of 51-17 (.750) at home over the course of the last six seasons, including its 1-1 mark this season.

CRUSADERS PICKED TO REPEAT: Holy Cross was recently picked first in the Patriot League preseason poll for the second consecutive season. The Crusaders received 94 total votes, inlcuding 11 first place nods. Holy Cross is coming off its 16th 20-win season under the direction of head coach Bill Gibbons and its 10th Patriot League Tournament Title.

KEIL NAMED PRESEASON ALL-LEAGUE: Junior guard/forward Brittany Keil (Sparta, N.J.) was named to the Patriot League Preseason All-League Team. Keil returns to the Holy Cross line-up as the team's top scorer (9.6 ppg) and rebounder (5.3 rpg). She is also the team's top three-point (.420 percent) and free throw (.810 percent) shooter from a year ago.

WELCOME TO WORCESTER: Morgan Valley is in her first season as assistant coach on the Holy Cross staff. Valley graduated from Connecticut in May and won three national titles with the Huskies under head coach Geno Auriemma. 2005-06 CAPTAINS: Senior guards Shannon Bush (Doylestown, Pa.), Jessica Conte (New Canaan, Conn.) and Sarah Placek (Alexandria, Va.), have been named team captains for the 2005-06 season.

SIXTEEN 20-WIN SEASONS: The Holy Cross women's basketball program has totaled 18 twenty-win seasons its 31 years of existence, and has amassed 16 twenty-win seasons while a NCAA Divsion I member. The past 16 twenty-win seasons have also come under the direction of head coach Bill Gibbons. Gibbons has led the Crusaders to more victories than any other coach in Holy Cross history during his 20-year tenure. He has won 20 or more games in 10 of the last 11 seasons and in 16 seasons overall.

400-CLUB: Bill Gibbons currently ranks 34th on the list of winningest active Division I coaches (by percent) and 36th by number of wins, according to the 2005 NCAA Women's Basketball Record Book. He is the winningest head basketball coach in Holy Cross history and is the second-winningest coach - of any sport - in school history, behind former baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.

2004-2005 HONORS: Four players from the Holy Cross women's basketball team were named to the 2005 Patriot League All-Conference Team at the end of last season. Since graduated seniors Lisa Andrews (Concord, Mass.) and Maggie Fontana (Barrington, Ill.) earned First Team All-League accolades, and current sophomores Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) and Ashley McLaughlin (Andover, Mass.) were selected to the All-Rookie Team.

Andrews, who was also voted as the 2005 Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player, was named the 2005 Patriot League Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The six-foot-three center started all 31 games for the Crusaders last season and led the team in points (396), points per game (12.8), field goal percent (.471), field goals made (162) and blocks (55). She tied for first in rebounds (168) and was second on the team in rebounds per game (5.4). Andrews also shot .727 percent from the free throw line, which was third-best on the HC squad.

In addition, Fontana was named the Samantha Vellaccio Award winner, which is presented annually to the varsity women's basketball player who best exemplifies the mission of Holy Cross both on and off the court. Fontana finished her career with 1,556 points (sixth all-time at Holy Cross, 10th all-time in Patriot League), 767 rebounds (fourth all-time at Holy Cross, 11th all-time PL), 420 assists (seventh all-time at Holy Cross, eighth all-time PL) and 251 steals (third all-time at Holy Cross, 10th all-time PL). She is one of only five players in Holy Cross women's basketball history to collect more than 1,500 points and 750 rebounds in their career.

Further, seven players on the team were named to the 2005 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll last season. Since-graduated senior Caitlin Agostinacchio (Bellmore, N.Y.) and current junior Brittany Keil (Sparta, N.J.) were among just four women's basketball players throughout the League to earn 4.0 grade point averages during the Spring semester. Andrews, Fontana, Jessica Conte, Kaitlin Foley and Sarah Placek were the other Crusaders who earned all-academic league accolades.

HC SIGNS FOUR TO NATIONAL LETTERS OF INTENT: Four student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to attend Holy Cross in the fall of 2006. Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.) of Shrewsbury High School, Christy Cushnie (Vienna, Va.) of James Madison High School, Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) of Good Counsel High School, and Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) of Lincoln High School, will all be donning the purple and white next season.

WHERE TO FIND HOLY CROSS BASKETBALL:

ON TELEVISION: WCTR-TV3 will broadcast the January 16 game against Duke and the January 24 game against Colgate live from the Hart Center this season. Available in more than 20 communities in Central Massachusetts, WCTR-TV3 reaches more than 129,000 homes in the area.

ON THE RADIO: Tonight's game will not have a local broadcast.

ON THE INTERNET: Any information on Holy Cross basketball or the 26 other varsity sports at HC is available through the Holy Cross Athletics website at: www.goholycross.com.

THE HOLY CROSS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SHOW: Tune in to WCTR TV-3 Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. and Friday nights at 10:30 p.m. for the Holy Cross Women's Basketball Show with Head Coach Bill Gibbons. Each week, WCTR TV-3 Sports Director Kevin Shea will sit down with Gibbons and members of this year's coaching staff and team and talk about all things Holy Cross basketball, and the Crusaders quest for the 2005-2006 Patriot League Championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

MEDIA POLICIES:

INFORMATION AND CREDENTIALS: Media personnel wishing to cover Holy Cross home games should contact Brianne Mallaghan in the Holy Cross Athletic Media Relations Office at 508-792-2780 or via email at bmallagh@holycross.edu at least one week in advance. Working press and photo passes will be left at the will-call window located near the main entrance of the Hart Recreation Center.

INTERVIEWS: Interviews with Head Coach Bill Gibbons, his staff and Holy Cross players can be set up by contacting Brianne Mallaghan in the Holy Cross Athletic Media Relations Office at (508) 793-2780 or via email at bmallagh@holycross.edu. Arrangements for interviews should be made atleast 24 hours in advance. Coach Gibbons is generally available each weekday morning during the season, as well as before and after practices. Player interviews will be arranged subject to the individual student-athlete's academic responsibilities.

PRESS SERVICES: Game notes and programs are available in the press room one hour before each game. Halftime and final statistics and a running play-by-play will be available about 15 minutes following the game.

POSTGAME PROCEDURES: The Holy Cross women's basketball locker room is closed to the media. Members of the media should submit player interview requests to Brianne Mallaghan, the Holy Cross women's basketball contact, by the five-minute mark of the second half. Players and Coaches will be available for postgame interviews following a 10-minute cooling off period after the game.

RADIO AND TRANSMITTING: Holy Cross has installed phone lines which can be rented by a visiting radio station. The cost for rental is $75.00 for commercial stations and $50.00 for student stations.

HOLY CROSS ON THE INTERNET: For the most updated information on the Crusaders, check out the Holy Cross website. The site contains statistics for every Crusader basketball game, as well as cumulative stats, rosters, schedules, weekly notes and photo archives. Log on to www.goholycross.com.