January 4, 2010

Women's Basketball Wraps Up Non-Conference Schedule Against Rhode Island

Full Game Notes in PDF Format
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-11, 0-0 PL) vs. Rhode Island (7-7, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Date: January 5, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Worcester TV: WCTR TV3, Worcester; Kevin Shea; play-by-play, Amy O'Brien; color

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 6-3
Last Meeting: Rhode Island 60, Holy Cross 53 (December 9, 2008, Kingston, R.I.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST RHODE ISLAND: Tuesday's match-up marks the 10th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Rhode Island. The teams first met during the 1988-1989 season, with the Crusaders earning an 87-68 victory at the Hart Center. The series is currently tied 2-2 in games played in Worcester, with Holy Cross taking a 65-56 win in the last home game held on Nov. 20, 2007. Tuesday's game also marks the 10th meeting for head coach Bill Gibbons against the Rams. In all, Gibbons' teams have outscored Rhode Island 611-558. Head coach Cathy Inglese is in her first season at the helm of the Rhode Island women's basketball program but is a familiar face for the Crusaders as she has posted an overall 13-6 record against them in her head coaching stints with Boston College and Vermont. Winning has come in twos for Holy Cross against Rhode Island as it has won in back-to-back seasons twice (1988-1989 and 1989-1990 and then again in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008). The team's were annual competitors from 1988 through 1992, took a 14-year hiatus, and then returned to compete annually since the 2004-2005 season. Rhode Island currently holds a one-game win streak as they topped the Crusaders 60-53 last year. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10: Holy Cross has played against 10 of the 14 teams that compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Holy Cross has already taken on Atlantic 10 opponent La Salle in the Hawk Holiday Classic and rounds out their non-conference schedule against Rhode Island. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 17-11 record against each of those teams after falling to La Salle, 65-51, earlier this season. Against the other eight conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 43 wins and 18 losses throughout program history. Fordham has been the most frequent Atlantic 10 opponent for Holy Cross as they have played in 37 total match-ups against the Rams, earning 31 victories. Holy Cross has an even 8-8 record against in-state opponent Massachusetts and has a losing record against just three A-10 teams, George Washington (0-2), Saint Joseph's (0-1) and Temple (0-1). 

PLAYING THE RAMS: In all of collegiate athletics, there are 18 teams with the nickname Rams. Tuesday's game against the Rhode Island Rams will mark the one and only time the Holy Cross Crusaders meet up with a Rams team this season. The Crusaders have played against a total of three schools out of the 18 that bear the nickname, including Colorado State, Fordham and Rhode Island. All together, the Crusaders hold a 37-10 record against those teams. Fordham has been the most frequent Rams opponent as the team holds a 31-6 record over them. Holy Cross has also posted a 6-3 record against Rhode Island and a 0-1 record against Colorado State.

O'DELL ON TOP: In just a matter of 30 seconds, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) took hold of the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers against New Hampshire on Dec. 20. With a little under five minutes of play in the first half, O'Dell hit two-consecutive three-point shots to earn her 245th and 246th career three-point shots, moving her into the top spot past Navy's Courtney Davidson (2000-2004). On the season, O'Dell has scored in double figures, as well as knocking down a three-point shot, in all but one game. The Dec. 29 meeting with Monmouth was a rare occurrence as O'Dell posted just six points on three-for-seven shooting. The drought did not last long, however, as she returned the following day with a career-best performance, scoring 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Her 11 total field goals were also a career-high and included five three-point shots. In the loss against Dartmouth, O'Dell scored 10 points, including a two-for-five performance from three-point range. She now has 42 three-point shots so far this season and 257 on her career. She leads the team with a 15.0 points per game average and also tops out in points (210), field goal percentage (43.5) and field goals made (73). O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 16th in three-point field goals per game (3.2) as of Dec. 20. 

FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) is continuing to establish herself as a valuable scorer and rebounder for the Crusaders. So far this season, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in 11 of 14 contests, including the last nine games. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 176 points, just 67 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. She earned a career-high 45 minute performance in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5. She has marked a season-high of nine rebounds twice this season, against Maine on Nov. 27 and then again versus Dartmouth on Jan. 2. Her season-high of nine rebounds is just two shy of her career-high (11 against Rhode Island on Dec. 9, 2008). She has been the top-scorer for the team in two contests (18 at Yale and 17 at Bryant) and has also led or tied in the team in top rebounds in seven of 14 performances. She is averaging 33.9 minutes played per game, which is already 15 more minutes played than her career average of 18.7 minutes. She broke up her perfect free throw percentage against Vermont on Dec. 7, but remains the team's top free throw shooter, sinking 34 of 38 attempts. In 14 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (173). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 75 boards, an average of 5.4 rebounds per-game and six blocks. 

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Freshman Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) has come a long way after sitting out her entire high school senior season with a knee injury. On Jan. 2, Lepley peaked as she poured in a season and career-high 13 points on six-for-seven shooting against Dartmouth, leading the team in scoring for the first time this season. After 14 games, Lepley has increasingly become the team's most versatile player so far this season. She has scored in double-digits in four contests and has at least one rebound in the last 13 contests, bringing down a season-high six rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. For her continued impact and improvement, Lepley was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week for the week of Dec. 14-20 after scoring 12 points and leading the team with four assists against New Hampshire. She has played at least 20 minutes in the last seven contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She also earned seven starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last four games. She has already tied for the team-high in rebounds in two contests (four against Boston College and five against Penn State), bringing her total rebounds to 61 in 14 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (75) and scoring average (5.4). She ranks first on the team with a 45.0 three-point field goal percentage and has made at least one three-point shot in the last five contests. She also ties for first on the team in blocks (6).  

QUIET IMPACT: While senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) hasn't put up top numbers so far this season, her statistics are nothing to dismiss. She has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 12 of 14 contests and playing in the most minutes for the Crusaders. She averages 12.6 points-per-game, which ties for second on the team and seventh in the Patriot League. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 89 times, sinking 63 shots. She also remains a valuable team player, dishing out a team-high 34 assists (2.4 per game). Her assists average ranks 10th in the league. She has led or tied for the team's top scoring performance in four contests and has made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. Her 26 offensive and 35 defensive rebounds rank second among the team as well. 

MOTIVATING WARD: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has earned starts in 14 games for the Crusaders at point guard, uses an interesting method as motivation. When not listed as a starter, Ward responds with top career performances. In the Hawk Holiday Classic, Ward scored a season-high nine points against La Salle and then bested that performance with a 15 point outing against Howard, marking her career-high. She also tallied career-highs in field goals made (6), three-point shots made (3) and three-point shots attempted (4) and tied her career-high of 34 minutes played. Against Dartmouth, Ward kept up her solid play, going three-for-seven from the field for nine points. She has currently hit a three-point shot in the last three contests, totaling 10 this season, which is eight more than her two three-point shots from the entire 2008-2009 season. In 14 contests, Ward is averaging 24.4 minutes, 4.5 points-per-game and 1.3 rebounds-per-game. She ranks second on the team with 31 assists, topping her six assists from all of last year.

MAJOR MINUTES: The team's three scoring leaders, junior Whitney Fremeau and seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell also spend the most time on the court for the Crusaders, rightfully so. McFadden is first on the team with an average of 35.9 minutes. O'Dell follows with an average of 34.9 minutes played while Fremeau clocks in closely behind with an average of 33.9 minutes. O'Dell has scored the most points in the amount of minutes played (210 points in 489 total minutes). Fremeau has scored 176 points in 474 minutes while McFadden has 177 points in 502 minutes. The three rank seventh, third and sixth amongst their Patriot League opponents respectively. 

BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have found a new scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot. In 14 contests, the team has attempted 264 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 252 three-point shots. The team needs 70 more three-point shots made to tie their 161 three-point shots from the 2008-2009 season. In all, the team continues to improve their shooting as well, recorded a 34.5 percent three-point average. In the last four contests, the Crusaders have shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc, including a season-high 50 percent performance against New Hampshire. Eight players on the 2009-2010 roster have already made a three-point shot, with senior Bethany O'Dell leading the way with a total of 42 three-pointers made. 

CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 14 games this season. The team averages 70.1 percent from the line, making 183 of 261 attempts. They have shot over 65 percent from the line 10 contests, including a season-high of 85.7 percent against Yale and Central Connecticut. However, the team hit a rough patch, marking a season-low eight-for-15 (53.3 percent) free throws on Dec. 29 against La Salle. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and is second in the Patriot League with a 89.5 free throw percentage. She marked career-highs twice with six makes against Northeastern and New Hampshire. Senior Briana McFadden's perfect eight-for-eight free throw outing against Boston College on Nov. 24 is a Patriot League game high. As a team last year, the Crusaders made 389 of their 524 free-throws attempts. The combined percentage of 74.2 ranks first all-time for a Holy Cross team. It also ranked first in the Patriot League and 28th nationally. McFadden sank 153 of her 191 attempts to rank first on the team in free throw attempts, earning her the third spot among Holy Cross single-season records. Fellow senior O'Dell led the team with an 84.6 free-throw percentage, missing just 10 of her 65 attempts at the line. 

YEAR OF THE GUARD: Six of 12 players on the 2009-2010 roster are listed as a guard, with seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell returning as starters. This year's team boasts the most experience at the position, with four seniors and another returner, sophomore Meredith Ward, owning the role. So far this season, the guards have combined to score 497 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 66 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 110 dishes.

 THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 122 steals in 14 games, an average of 8.7 steals per-contest. The team stole the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high while their steals average ranks third in the league. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 26 steals thus far and her six-steal performance against Northeastern ranks second amongst the league's individual highs.

TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. While opponents outscore Holy Cross in both halves, the team has kept opponents within nine points in the first 20 minutes, taking a lead into the halftime in eight of 14 match-ups.  In all, Holy Cross has scored 413 points in the first half next to opponents 462 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided, with opponents tallying a 486-392 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped the comeback attempts in three contests, while losing the lead to Yale (66-60), Penn State (52-48), Northeastern (89-82), New Hampshire (80-72) and most recently Howard (87-80). The team also has scoring trouble when playing in overtime games, getting outscored 41-27, resulting in two overtime losses (against Northeastern and Howard). 

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has played in just three home games so far this season, collecting a 0-3 record. In program history, however, the Hart Center has traditionally been a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Holy Cross women's basketball team has a 79.4 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program. The 2009-2010 season marks the 35th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The team holds an all-time 324-99 advantage at home. The Crusaders posted 24 straight winning records at home from 1979-1980 through 2002-2003 and have five straight winning records going into 2009-2010. Combined, the Crusaders have won 126 of 154 meetings against this year's home opponents.

POUNDING THE BOARDS: One major downfall for the 2009-2010 squad is the ability to rebound. The Jan. 2 contest against Dartmouth marked the first time this season that the team has not been outrebounded, with each team bringing down 32 boards apiece. With six players listed under 6-0, rebounding has been a struggle. In 14 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 574-421, a margin of 10.9 boards per game. The team started the season with its best rebounding outing, 41 against Yale, but has since decreased its numbers, pulling down a season-low 21 rebounds against No. 1 Connecticut. The team has brought down fewer than 30 rebounds in five games thus far. The team has, however, posted 32 rebounds in the last two contests and currently averages 30.1 rebounds per game. Holy Cross is led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.4 rebounds per contest. 

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 25th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is entering a milestone 25th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program in 2009-2010. He has compiled a 479-256 record as head coach, ranking 25th on the active Division I win leaders list. 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. On April 30, 2009, Gibbons received the prestigious Paul N. Johnson Award, given to a member of the Worcester community who has greatly contributed to Worcester area basketball. With his service, the name Gibbons has become a fixture in the realm of women's basketball. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 24 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 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: This year marks the 21st season for the team as a member of the Patriot League. Over 20 seasons, the team has played in a total of 252 league match-ups, dropping only 52 games total. Combined, Holy Cross has taken home 11 championships, while two other schools (Lehigh and Bucknell) have collected two each to follow. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 200-52 league record. The 1990-1991 and 1996-1997 squads both went undefeated in conference play. Holy Cross also boasts 11 Patriot League Players of the Year and 26 first team All-Patriot League selections, the most in the conference. 

ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center, wrapping up against Harvard and continuing with a trip to Durham, N.H. and to New Jersey for the Hawk Holiday Classic on Dec. 29-30. The team completes the first half of the season with a 3-8 record away from the Hart Center.  The team hosted Connecticut at the DCU Center on Nov. 20, and will host three straight home-contests at the Hart Center from Jan. 2-9. The last time a team began the season with so many away games was the 1991-1992 season when the team played in six road contests. The squad went 3-3 in those contests and finished the season with a 16-13 overall record. 

MCFADDEN NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: Senior guard Briana McFadden has been named preseason All-Patriot League in a vote by conference head coaches and sports information directors. Last season, McFadden earned first team All-Patriot League accolades and was also named to the conference's All-Tournament team. In other preseason poll voting a Preseason Player of the Year were selected. Lehigh junior Erica Prosser was tabbed the 2009-2010 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year and as a member of the preseason All-Patriot League Team. Prosser was the Patriot League Player of the Year in 2008-2009 and a First-Team All-Patriot League selection. Also on this year's preseason All-Patriot League squad are American junior Michelle Kirk, Army junior Erin Anthony and Lehigh senior Alex Ross. 

CRUSADERS PICKED IN A TIE FOR SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish in a tie for second place with American in the 2009-2010 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 76 votes. Defending Patriot League champion Lehigh was chosen as the preseason favorite to capture the league title. Lehigh received 13 first-place votes and a total of 97 points. American and Holy Cross followed in a tie for second with 76 points apiece. Filling the final five spots were Navy (fourth, 54 points), Bucknell (fifth, 52 points), Army (sixth, 50 points), Colgate (seventh, 22 points) and Lafayette (eighth, 21 points). 

1,000 POINT UPDATE: Senior captains Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell became just the eighth and ninth juniors to become part of the 24-member Holy Cross 1,000-point club last year. Going into the 2009-2010 season, they ranked 14th (1,195 points) and 19th (1,104 points) on the all-time scoring list respectively. In 10 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least two spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 177 total points this season, now holds the 11th spot with 1,322 career points, having jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. She needs seven more points to rank No. 10. O'Dell, who leads the team with 210 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,314 total career points. She has moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind fellow senior captain McFadden.

RECORD CLIMBING: Seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell have already etched their names into the Holy Cross single-season record books. McFadden currently ranks first with her 37.5 average minutes played during the 2008-2009 season while O'Dell holds the top three spots in three-pointers made (87, 2006-2007, 65, 2008-2009, 63, 2007-2008). O'Dell also holds the top rank in three-pointers attempted (206, 2006-2007) and is sixth in three-point percentage (42.2, 2006-2007). McFadden places third and fifth in free throws made (152, 2008-2009, 137, 2007-2008) and fifth and eighth in free throws attempted (191, 2008-2009, 169, 2007-2008). Both players are tied for sixth with 32 games started in 2007-2008. McFadden moves into a tie for second on the career records list for three-pointers attempted (521) and fourth in three pointers made (153). O'Dell currently ranks third on the Holy Cross career records list for three-point percentage (39.4) and also ranks first all-time at Holy Cross in three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted, continuing to pull ahead.

SCOUTING THE RAMS:
Record: 7-7, 0-0 Atlantic 10
Head Coach: Rams head coach Cathy Inglese picked up her 400th career win against Albany on Jan. 2, 2010 in her first season as head coach at Rhode Island. She was introduced as the head coach of the women's basketball program on April 14, 2009 after spending 15 seasons at Boston College. She has collected a career record of 400 wins and 260 losses. She guided Boston College to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and one trip to the WNIT. Prior to her stint at Boston College, Inglese served as head coach at the University of Vermont for seven seasons, posting a 120-74 (.619) record.

2009-2010 Squad: This year's Rhode Island team enters Tuesday's game with a 7-7 record. After starting off 0-3 against Fairfield, Boston University and Northeastern, the Rams have taken their seven victories in the last 11 games against Seton Hall, NJIT, Central Connecticut, Brown, Towson, Dartmouth and Albany. The squad has also lost to Kent Sate, Providence, St. John's and Vermont. The team returns eight players, including two starters from last season. Freshman guard Ashley Rivera leads the team with 12.2 points per game while senior guard Lindsay Harris leads the defense with 10 rebounds per game. Eleven of 13 players listed on the 2009-2010 roster have seen action so far this season.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross wraps up its home stand with the first Patriot League match-up for the team this season. On Saturday, Jan. 9, the Crusaders will host the Lafayette Leopards for the 23rd time in program history. Tip time is set for 1:00 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.