Women's Basketball Hosts Rhode Island On Wednesday

Dec. 6, 2005

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The Teams:
Rhode Island (2-4, 0-0 A-10)
Holy Cross (3-4, 0-0 Patriot League)
Date: December 7, 2005
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Broadcast Information:
Internet: www.sportsjuice.com
Radio: WTAG 580 AM
Talent: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Jeremy Lechan, color commentator
Series History: Holy Cross leads 4-1
Last Meeting: Holy Cross, 59-55 (Dec. 7, 2004 at URI)
Series Streak: Holy Cross - 2

Pos.  No.  Name               Ht.   Cl.	PPG	RPG
G      15  Shannon Bush      5-11  Sr.	10.9	2.9
G      05  Laura Aloisi      5-9    So.	5.9	3.4
G      33  Brittany Keil     6-2    Jr.	8.4	7.3
F      13  A. McLaughlin    6-2	  So.	5.5	4.4
C      52  Kaitlin Foley      6-4    Jr.	15.9	6.6

Wednesday night's game is the sixth all-time meeting between Holy Cross and Rhode Island in the 31 year history of varsity basketball at Holy Cross.

THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE: Holy Cross set a number of season records with their 91 point outing against Memphis on Saturday. The Purple and White had an 18 point lead at halftime (previous best was a two point lead at the half against Northeastern), and scored a season-high 49 points in one half (previous high was 39 points against Saint Peter's). They also forced a season-high 27 turnovers, giving them a 2-0 record when forcing 20+ miscues (previous high was 21 against Northeastern).

Additionally, the Crusaders shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the first time this season in their 25 point win over the Tigers. Last year's championship team beat three teams by 25 points or more (31 point win at Navy, 73-48; 43 point win over Iona, 89-46; 31 point win over Buffalo, 73-42).

THE LAST MEETING BETWEEN HC AND URI: Sarah Placek poured in a career-high 23 points, and Shannon Bush added 10 points to lead Holy Cross to a thrilling 59-55 win over the University of Rhode Island on Dec. 7, 2004, at the Ryan Center.

Rhode Island opened the game on an 11-3 run with just under 16:00 remaining in the first, but the Crusaders used an 8-1 run of their own to get within one (12-11) with 13:22 to play. Ashley McLaughlin managed a basket inside to tie the game at 23-all with 4:46 left in the half, and the Crusaders took their first lead of the game less than a minute later on two Bush free throws. But, Peta Kneen put the Rams back in front after a long ball at the 3:08 mark, and URI went into the half up, 31-25.

URI started the second on a 6-0 run, building a 12-point lead with under 17:00 to go. Holy Cross did not score its first hoop of the second stanza until the 16:34 mark, but thanks to seven-straight points by Placek, the Crusaders found themselves within five with under 14:00 to go. Jessica Conte's second three-ball of the night pulled the Crusaders within two (37-35), but the Rams mounted an 11 point lead (53-42) over the next 11 minutes.

Holy Cross fought its way back into the game and went on a 13-0 tear to take a 55-53 lead with 2:00 remaining in the game. During that 2:07 span, Brittany Keil scored five straight points, and Placek added three free-throws before Bush banked a long three from the left wing to give the Crusaders the lead.

Rhode Island's Tanya Rhodes hit a jumper with 1:36 left to tie the game at 55-all, but the Crusaders held the Rams scoreless the rest of the way. Lisa Andrews made good on a rebound and putback with 1:08 left, and Maggie Fontana hit two key free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Kneen led the Rams with 16 points, Rhodes added 14, and Safi Mojidi chipped in 13 for URI.

Andrews finished with eight points and six boards for the Crusaders, who also got six boards and five points from Keil.

LAST TIME OUT: Junior center Kaitlin Foley pumped in a game high 18 points and junior guard Brittany Keil recorded her third double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Holy Cross women's basketball team to a 91-66 non-conference victory over Memphis in the consolation game of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State University. Both Keil and Foley had 10 points at the half. Senior guard Sarah Placek chipped in with a season-high 14 points, while sophomore guard Laura Aloisi had an impressive all-around night, totaling six points, six rebounds and six assists. Freshman guard Jessica Pearson had a career night with nine points, after going 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from behind the arc.

The Tigers opened the game with a Devin Necaise jumper at the 19:17 mark, but the Crusaders responded with a 29-3 run, in which they forced 10 turnovers, shot 56 percent from the floor, converted on three fast break opportunities and held Memphis without a field goal for almost seven minutes.

The Crusaders went into the break with a 42-24 advantage. Holy Cross' largest lead of the half was 29 points (38-9) following two Foley free throws with 5:18 remaining. But the Tigers outscored Holy Cross 12-4 in the final 4:38, after an 11-0 run in which they cut the lead to 18 points (38-20). Memphis made just eight field goals in the first half, shooting 26 percent from the floor, while HC made 45 percent of its attempts.

Holy Cross continued to dominate in the second stanza, leading by as many as 30 points (75-45). The Purple and White shot 52 percent for the game, and scored 46 points in the paint, to the Tigers' 24. Holy Cross also forced 27 Tiger turnovers, and scored 39 points off of those Memphis miscues.

QUICK HITTERS: Brittany Keil pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds and tied season-highs with 16 points and five assists against Memphis ... Sarah Placek scored a season-high 14 points against Memphis ... Placek scored a career-high 23 points against URI last season ... Laura Aloisi had a season-high three steals to go along with six points, six rebounds and six assists against Memphis ... Jessica Pearson shot 1.000 percent from the floor against Memphis and scored a career-high nine points (3-for-3), inlcuding two triples in a career-high 12 minutes of action ... Jessica Merrihue scored the first points of her career against Memphis after draining a long ball in six minutes of action ... Ashley McLaughlin had season-highs in points (seven) and assists (two), and tied a career-high with three steals.

NEXT TIME OUT: The Crusaders hit the road for the first in a series of four consecutive away games when they travel to Connecticut for a 7:00 p.m. match-up with the sixth-ranked Huskies at the Hartford Civic Center on Monday, December 19. Holy Cross will then play two contests in Virginia at the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Va., Dec. 28-29, before going to Maine for a game with the Black Bears on January 2.

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.

FOLEY EARNS ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: Junior center Kaitlin Foley earned a spot on the Wells Fargo/Arizona State Holiday Classic All Tournament Team after her performances over the weekend, in which she averaged 18.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting .739 (17-for-23) from the floor.

On Friday night against Western Kentucky, Foley pumped in a team-high and a career-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, surpassing her previous career high of 18 points set earlier this season at Northeastern. Then on Saturday, the Albany native scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in 26 minutes of action in Holy Cross' 91-66 blowout win over Memphis.

Foley leads the team in scoring (15.9 points per game) and is second on the HC squad in rebounding (6.6 rebounds per game). She has averaged 17 points per game over her last four outings (18 vs. Memphis; 19 vs. WKU; 14 at Boston College; 17 vs. Saint Peter's), and has scored in double figures in every game so far this season.

Foley recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds at UMass earlier this season. The six-foot-four center is shooting .542 percent (45-for-83) from the floor and .808 percent (21-for-26) from the free throw line.

KEIL BACK ON TRACK: Junior guard Brittany Keil recorded her third double-double of the season after a 16-point, 12-rebound outing against Memphis on Saturday. Keil shot her way out of a two game slump, in which she went 0-for-11 from the field (0-6 vs. WKU; 0-5 at BC). Before her 16 point outing against the Tigers, Keil had been 4-for-22 in the previous three games.

Keil has recorded three double-doubles through seven games this season, a feat only one other player in the Patriot League (Jenny Callan from Lehigh has four) has accomplished this year. In addition to her 16 points and 12 boards against Memphis, 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.

STREAK ENDS: Brittany Keil was 12-for-12 (1.000 percent) from the free throw line going into Saturday's game against Memphis, but made just 6-of-9 foul shots against the Tigers, ending her bid to reach Maggie Fontana `05, who set a program record with 26 consecutive free throws (across five games).

GETTING TO THE LINE: Three of the top five free throw shooters in the League are Holy Cross Crusaders. Senior guard Shannon Bush leads the league in free throw percentage, making .889 percent (24-for-27) of her attempts, while Brittany Keil is tied for second (.857 percent; 18-for-21) and Katilin Foley is fourth (.808 percent; 21-for-26). As a team, Holy Cross ranks third in the conference in free throw percentage (.709; 100-for-141).

TOUGH `D': The Crusaders are ranked in the top 3 in the Patriot League in a number of defensive categories this season. They are ranked first in the League in three-point field goal percentage defense (.232 percent), second in both field goal percent defense (.393 percent) and blocked shots (3.29 blocks per game), and third in steals (9.57 steals per game). In Saturday's game against Memphis, Holy Cross held the Tiger;s to 34.3 percent from the floor, and in last Monday's game against Saint Peter's, Holy Cross held the Peahens to a season-low 27.5 percent from the floor.

PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF: Sophomore point guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) is once again leading the team in assists (30 assists) and assists per game (4.3 apg) this season. The second year playmaker now has 149 career assists, after her rookie campaign in which she led the team and finished second in the Patriot League with 119 helpers.

Aloisi currently ranks second in the Patriot League in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.62), third in assists (4.3 apg) and sixth in blocked shots (0.71 bpg). In addition, the New Hampshire native is an impressive .923 percent (12-for-13) from the free throw line.

BUSH HEATS UP: Senior guard Shannon Bush had 14 points at BC last Wednesday after another fine all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 24 minutes of action against Saint Peter's. Her 10.9 points per game average is second best on the team. She is also averaging 3.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 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 last 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) last 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 scored nine or more points in four out of seven games this season. She is currently fourth on the team in both scoring (8.0 points per game) and rebounding (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 three rebounds in a career-high 11 minutes of action against Memphis over the weekend. Gruzynski scored a career-high five points against Dartmouth in nine minutes of action earlier this season, and pulled down a career-high five rebounds in nine minutes of action at UMass.

COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Sarah Placek came into the season with 810 career points and she is now just 137 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 7.6 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).

SCOUTING THE RAMS: Rhode Island comes into tonight's game after a 64-49 loss at Marquette on Sunday. The Rams opened the season with back-to-back losses to Hartford (45-58) and Harvard (48-77), and then hosted their own tournament (URI Invitational), where they met up with Brown (75-71 win) and Villanova (44-65 loss), before traveling to Maine (65-48 win).

URI (2-4 overall) is currently on a three-game road trip after opening the season with four straight home games.

The Rams are led by senior forward Tanya Rhodes, who is averaging 16.3 points per game and five-foot-six sophomore guard Safi Mojidi, who is close behind with a 13.2 points per game average. The five-foot-nine Rhodes is also the team's leading rebounder, grabbing 9.0 caroms per game so far this season. Six-foot-three sophomore center Whitney Hollis is second on the team in rebouding with an 8.2 rebounds per game average.

Freshman forward Jessica Magley has enjoyed much success in the early going this season, averaging 9.0 points per game (third on team) and 5.0 rebounds per gane, while shooting 45 percent from the floor.

HOLY CROSS VERSUS THE ATLANTIC-10: The Crusaders are 0-1 this season against Atlantic-10 teams, after a 64-55 loss at Massachusetts earlier this season. Rhode Island will be the last A-10 team Holy Cross is scheduled to play this season. Holy Cross has an all-time record of 59-24 against Atlantic-10 competition. Bill Gibbons is 47-22 in his 21-year career against the A-10.

*NOTE: Holy Cross' all-time record against Fordham is 31-6, but 34 of those games were played when Fordham was a member of the Patriot League. Holy Cross is 3-0 against Fordham as an A-10 team.

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.

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 be broadcast on WTAG 580 AM. Bob Fouracre will call all of the play-by-play action and Jeremy Lechan will serve as the color commentator. The game will also be broadcast on WCHC 88.1 FM, the Holy Cross studet station.

ON THE INTERNET: Tonight's game can also be heard on www.sportsjuice.com. The webcast of tonight's HC/URI game, and any other information on Holy Cross basketball or the 26 other varsity sports at HC is also 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.

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.