Crusaders Face Virginia In Championship Game Tonight

Dec. 29, 2005

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
GAME #11
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - MARRIOTT CAVALIER CLASSIC
Date: Thursday, December 29, 2005
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Location: Charlottesville, Va.
Arena: University Hall
Capacity: 8,394
Team Records:
Holy Cross 4-6 (0-0 Patriot League)
Virginia 8-1 (0-0 ACC)

Series History: Second Meeting; Virginia leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: UVA, 72-71 (1989-90 season)
Series Streak: UVA - 1

Broadcast Information:
Radio: none.

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos.  No.  Name               Ht.   Cl.	PPG	RPG
G      05  Laura Aloisi      5-9    So.	5.0	3.0
G      10  Sarah Placek      5-3    Sr.	7.5	2.7
G      33  Brittany Keil     6-2    Jr.	9.7	6.5
F      13  A. McLaughlin     6-2    So.	4.1 	3.6
C      52  Kaitlin Foley     6-4    Jr.	16.2	6.6

Tonight's game is just the second all-time meeting between Holy Cross and Virginia in the 31 year history of varsity basketball at Holy Cross.

THE SERIES VS. VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers lead the all-time series, 1-0, after a 72-71 win over Holy Cross during the 1989-90 season.

THIS TIME OUT: Holy Cross snapped a two-game skid with a convincing 80-62 win over Boston University in the first round of the Marriott Cavalier Classic yesterday afternoon, and is looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season when it goes up against tournament host, Virginia. The Crusaders are 2-3 in December and have yet to play on a Thursday this season. They are 2-1 in in-season tournament games this year (80-62 win over BU yesterday, 91-66 win over Memphis, and a 72-41 loss to WKU at the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic in Tempe, Ari., Dec. 2-3).

The Cavaliers are coming off a 92-41 victory over Yale in the nightcap of yesterday's first round action. UVA is 8-1 this season. Its other seven wins have come against Marshall, Richmond, Seton Hall, Harvard, Alabama, Wright State and George Washington. The Wahoos' lone set back was a 69-64 loss to #12 Minnesota on Nov. 26 at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas. Virginia has yet to lose a game on their home court this year.

LAST TIME OUT: Four players reached double figures to help propel the Holy Cross women's basketball team to a convincing 80-62 non-conference win over Boston University yesterday afternoon at University Hall on the campus of the University of Virginia in the first round of the Marriott Cavalier Classic.

Junior center Katilin Foley pumped in a game-high 19 points and senior guard Jessica Conte nailed four treys on her way to 18 points, while senior guard Shannon Bush grabbed a career-high seven rebounds to go along with 16 points, three assists and two steals to lead the Crusaders. Junior guard Brittany Keil added 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while senior guard Sarah Placek recorded seven points, five rebounds and four assists.

Keil nailed a three pointer to start the game and the Crusaders led in the early going until Boston University fought back to take an 11-8 lead after a 3-pointer by Cheri Raffo. But a Conte three-ball tied the game at 11-11 with 13:37 to go and the Crusaders did not trail the rest of the game.

Holy Cross led by as many as six points (22-16) with 9:07 left after another Conte trey, but Boston University chipped away at the lead and tied things up again at 22-all following a Rachael Vanderwal fast-break lay-up at the 7:11 mark. But the Crusaders found themselves up by six again (35-29) with 2:45 to go after a Bush jumper, helping them to a 39-35 advantage at the break.

Holy Cross opened the second half on an 11-2 run and took its largest lead of the game up to that point, 50-37, with 14:56 to go. A Vanderwal three-pointer from the top of the key with just under eight minutes to play made it an eight-point contest (60-52), but the Terriers would not get any closer. Bush had a quick answer on the other end, draining her second three-pointer of the second half to jump start a 10-3 run that gave the Crusaders a 15-point lead (70-55) which effectively put the game away with just over four minutes to play.

The Crusaders shot 47.2 percent from the floor and made 21 of 24 free throw attempts, while BU shot 40.4 percent and hit 10 of 18 foul shots.

NEXT TIME OUT: The Crusaders conclude their lenghty four-game road trip at Maine on Monday Jan. 2. The match-up with the Black Bears is scheduled to be played at the Portland Civic Center at 2:00 p.m., not on the Orono campus. Holy Cross has a 5-2 series advantage over Maine. The last time the two teams met was during the 2002-03 season (a 75-74 Holy Cross win at the LaSalle Tournament). Following the Maine game, Holy Cross will be back at the Hart Center on Saturday, Jan. 7, to begin Patriot League play against Lafayette.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:Senior Shannon Bush scored her 500th career point yesterday (16 points against BU) and now has 515 career points. Senior Jessica Conte played in her 100th career game yesterday against BU and fellow senior Sarah Placek is expected to hit the 100 career game mark tonight against Virginia. Junior Brittany Keil scored the 500th point of her career two games ago at UConn. With her 14 points yesterday against BU, she currently has 516 career points.

QUICK HITTERS: Shannon Bush pulled down a career-high seven rebounds against Boston University yesterday afternoon ... Jessica Conte tied a career-high with 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range against BU ... Sarah Placek grabbed a season-high five rebounds and tied a season-high with four assists against BU ... Kaitlin Foley had a career-high 20 points, played a career-high 38 minutes and tied for career highs in assists and steals vs. URI ... Jessica Conte had a season-high seven rebounds and five steals vs. URI ... 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 ... 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 against Memphis.

BACK IN THE LINE UP: Sophomore point guard Laura Aloisi was back in the Holy Cross line up after missing the UConn game and almost two weeks of practice with a case of plantar fasciitis. In yesterday's game against Boston University, Aloisi recorded two assists, one block and a steal in her first start since the Dec. 7 Rhode Island game. The five-foot-nine Aloisi is listed as day-to-day with the injury.

FOLEY POSTS ANOTHER CAREER HIGH: Junior center Kaitlin Foley hit for another career-high when she pumped in a team-high and career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor against URI on Dec. 7. Foley has set and surpassed career highs in points three times this season (18 at Northeastern, 19 vs. Western Kentucky, 20 vs. URI).

Foley leads the team in scoring (16.2 points per game) and is second in the Patriot League in that same category. She has averaged 17.6 points per game over her last five outings (19 vs. BU; 12 at UConn; 20 vs. URI; 18 vs. Memphis; 19 vs. WKU), and has scored in double figures in every game so far this season.

Additionally, Foley leads the conference in field goal percentage (56.0 percent), is fifth in the league in free throw percentage (78.0 percent) and sixth in the league in blocks (0.78 blocks per game).

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 55.3 percent (52-for-94) from the floor and 81.8 percent (27-for-33) from the free throw line.

LIGHTS OUT: Holy Cross set a number of season records with their 91 point outing against Memphis earlier this season. 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).

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 that 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.

In the first round against Western Kentucky, Foley pumped in a team-high and a then-career high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, surpassing her previous career high of 18 points set earlier this season at Northeastern. Then in the consolation game, 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.

KEIL BACK ON TRACK: Junior guard Brittany Keil has reached double figures in the last four games and is just shy of averaging 10 points (9.7 points per game) a game this season. Yesterday, Keil had a stellar all-around game with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal. At UConn, Keil totaled 11 points, five rebounds and three assists after a 13-point, five-rebound night against URI and a 16-point, 12-rebound outing against Memphis at the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic. Keil appears to have 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) prior to the Memphis game. Before her 16 point outing against the Tigers, Keil had been 4-for-22 in the previous three games.

Keil recorded three double-doubles in the first seven games of the season, a feat only one other player in the Patriot League (Jenny Callan from Lehigh has six) 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.

PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF: Sophomore point guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) is once again leading the team in assists (36 assists) and assists per game (4.00 apg) this season. The second year playmaker now has 155 career assists, after her rookie campaign in which she led the team and finished second in the Patriot League with 119 helpers.

Aloisi currently leads the Patriot League in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.57; 36 assists, 23 turnovers), ranks third in assists (4.00 apg) and seventh in blocked shots (0.67 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 is second on the team in scoring this season with an 11.9 points per game average. The five-foot-11 Bush recorded 16 points, a career-high seven rebounds, three assists and two steals against BU, after totaling 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals at UConn. She totaled 17 points against URI, had 14 points at BC, and turned in fine all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 24 minutes of action against Saint Peter's. She is also averaging 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 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.) tied a career-high with 18 points yesterday against Boston University. The five-foot-eight shooting guard was 4-for-5 from long range and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. She is currently fourth on the team in scoring with an 8.8 points per game average and is second on the team in three-pointers made (13), just one trey behind team leader, Shannon Bush.

Conte had a perfect shooting night at Boston College, going 3-for-3 from the floor, including 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) 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 five out of ten games this season. Additionally, she currently ranks third on the team in rebounding (4.0 rebounds per game), and ranks second in the league in steals (2.30 spg).

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 at the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic. 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.

STREAK ENDS: Brittany Keil was 12-for-12 (1.000 percent) from the free throw line going into the Memphis game, 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). For the season, Keil is now 19-for-23 from the line (82.6 percent), which is third best in the Patriot League.

GETTING TO THE LINE: Three of the top five free throw shooters in the League are Holy Cross Crusaders. Senior guard Shannon Bush ranks second in the league in free throw percentage (87.9 percent; 29-for-33), Brittany Keil is fourth (80.8 percent; 21-for-26) and Katilin Foley is fifth (78.0 percent; 32-for-41). As a team, Holy Cross ranks third in the conference in free throw percentage (71.4 percent; 137-for-192).

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 second in the League in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.3 percent), blocks (2.70 bpg), and steals (9.80 spg). Against Memphis, Holy Cross held the Tiger's to 34.3 percent from the floor, and against Saint Peter's, Holy Cross held the Peahens to a season-low 27.5 percent from the floor.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has an all-time record of 293-78 (.789) 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 posted a record of 51-18 (.739) at home over the course of the last six seasons, including its 1-2 mark this season.

COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Sarah Placek came into the season with 810 career points and she is now just 115 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 7.5 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 CAVALIERS: Virginia comes into tonight's game after a 92-41 thrashing of Yale in the first round of the Cavalier Classic last night. Freshman forward Lyndra Littles (Washington, D.C.) hit career highs in both points (19) and rebounds (15) to notch her second consecutive double-double while sophomore point guard Sharneé Zoll (Marlboro, N.J.) added eight assists, six steals, and 13 points to help lift the Cavaliers to victory.

The 51-point margin of victory was the largest for the Cavaliers since Virginia defeated St. Francis (PA) 116-63 (+53) in 2000, and the 92 points is the most for Virginia since a 98-52 win over JMU in 2004. With the win, the Cavaliers improved to 8-1 overall, while Yale fell to 0-9.

The Cavaliers opened the game with a 23-0 run, led by Zoll's three assists, three steals, and three points. Junior forward Siedah Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) added 10 points, a steal, and an offensive board in the run as the Cavaliers held Yale to 0-4 from the floor. The Cavaliers shot a blistering 55.6% from the floor in the first half and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 22-12, including 12-3 on the offensive glass. The `Hoos led 40-19 at halftime.

In the second half, Virginia kept the pressure on and continually built the lead throughout the 20 minutes, punctuating the win with the 23rd steal of the game for the Cavaliers, notched by freshman guard Britnee Millner (Martinsville, Va.). Millner was fouled and her free throw with five seconds remaining provided the largest margin in the game at +51 for the `Hoos. Littles scored 13 points in the second half and pulled down 10 boards as Virginia never let the margin drop below 20 in the second half of the game. The Cavaliers recorded 13 steals in the second half, with three each from Zoll and sophomore guard Denesha Kenion (Oxon, Md.).

For the fifth time this season, four Cavaliers netted double-figure scoring. Williams finished with 15 points and Kenion added 10. All 11 Virginia players that saw action in the game scratched the scoreboard, including freshman guard Enongé Stovall (Philadelphia, Pa.) who had a career-high eight points.

Overall, Virginia out-rebounded Yale, 42-27. UVa forced 35 turnovers, including a season-high 23 steals.

The Cavaliers are led by Williams' 11.9 points per game average. She also leads the team with eight blocks this season, seven more than any other player on the roster. Littles is not far behind with a 10.8 points per game average, while leading the team in rebounding with 8.1 boards per game. Sardin, Zoll and Granberry are all averaging between 9.1 and 9.4 points per game, while combining to grab 14 rebounds per contest.

HOLY CROSS VERSUS THE ACC: Tonight's game is the second of Holy Cross' three contests this season against ACC opponents. The Crusaders lost to Boston College, 67-53 earlier this season and play host to #2 Duke on Jan. 16 at the Hart Center. Holy Cross has an all-time record of 2-10 (.166) against ACC competition. HC is 10-28 (.263) against ACC teams under Bill Gibbons.

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.

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.

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.