Women's Basketball Aims For First League Win At Bucknell
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-13, 0-2 PL) vs. Bucknell (4-11, 0-2 PL)
Date: January 16, 2010
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Sojka Pavilion (4,000), Lewisburg, Pa.
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM,
Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com,
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, www.all-access.cbssports.com
Series Record: Holy Cross leads,
Last Meeting: Bucknell 58, Holy Cross 44 (February 14, 2009, Lewisburg, Pa.)
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST BUCKNELL: Saturday's match-up will be the 47th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Bucknell, with the Crusaders owning a 34-12 advantage over the Bison. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play (1990-1991), earning two back-to-back victories, a 78-59 road win and then a 94-68 tally at the Hart Center. The Crusaders and Bison split the two meetings over the 1991-1992 season. Holy Cross went on to take the next eight match-ups from Jan. 30, 1993 until Jan. 31, 1996, the longest stretch of wins against Bucknell. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 34-12 record while Bucknell head coach Kathy Fedorjaka holds a 23-11 record against the Crusaders since taking over the reins of the women's basketball program 13 years ago. Sojka Pavilion became the home of the Bison in 2003. Holy Cross spoiled the series opener at the Pavilion, earning a 91-79 victory on Feb. 28. Since then, the teams have played five more times and are currently in an even 3-3 split for wins and losses. Holy Cross has dropped the most amount of games to Bucknell over the last five years, losing seven of 15 meetings since the 2003-2004 season.
HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2009-2010 season marks the 21st year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Since joining the league, Holy Cross has started conference play with two losses just one other time, the 2006-2007 season. This year's team is now following suit with its 0-2 league record against league foes after falling to Lafayette and Army. Over the last 20 seasons, the team has played in a total of 252 league match-ups, dropping only 52 games total, a .810 winning percentage. 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. The Crusaders have been the most successful against American, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy. In all, Holy Cross has collected winning records amongst every Patriot League opponent. Army has tallied the most wins against the Crusaders, picking up 15 wins in 43 contests. Bucknell is the only other squad with over 10 wins against the Crusaders, earning 12 wins in 46 contests.
PLAYING THE BISON: There are a total of eight schools in collegiate athletics that bear the Bison nickname. Two schools with the Bison mascot appear on the Crusader schedule this season, Bucknell and Howard. Out of the six schools, Holy Cross has only faced the Bison of Bucknell and Howard. The other programs include Bethany, Gaulledet, Harding, Nichols, North Dakota State and Oklahoma Baptist. Overall, the Crusaders have compiled a 35-13 record against Bison programs.
O'DELL ON TOP: In just a matter of 30 seconds, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) made two consecutive three-point shots to take hold of the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers against New Hampshire on Dec. 20, 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 two games. The Dec. 29 meeting with La Salle was a rare occurrence as O'Dell did not make a three-point shot for the first time in 11 consecutive contests. She was then held to just two points against league foe Lafayette on Jan. 9, not making a shot in six attempts. Most impressively, the Lafayette games was just the 10th time in O'Dell's 108 career games played that a three-point shot did not fall for her. After not making a three-point shot against La Salle, O'Dell returned with a career-best performance, scoring 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting against Howard. Her 11 total field goals were a career-high and included five three-point shots. In the following game against Rhode Island, O'Dell tallied her best three-point performance of the season, going six-for-seven beyond the arc, a 85.7 percent three-point outing. Her performance is an individual high amongst league players this season as well. Most recently, O'Dell added 11 points in just 13 minutes of playing time against Army on Jan. 13, which included her 49th three-pointer made this season. She now has 264 three-point shots made on her career. O'Dell is a clear team leader in her senior season as she leads the team with an average of 14.5 points per game average, topping out in points (247) and field goals made (86). O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 17th in three-point field goals percentage (47.1) and 14th in three-point shots made per game (3.2) as of Jan. 8.
QUIET IMPACT MAKES NOISE: Senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) finally got the big break she was yearning for in the game against Rhode Island on Jan. 5. In the game, McFadden tallied a season-high 27 points on a season-best 8-for-16 field goal performance. She also marked her best three-point shooting performance, making five-of-seven shots beyond the arc. Her five three-point shots made tied her career high, which she tallied against Lafayette in February of last season. Through the 17 contests so far, McFadden has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 14 of those contests, including eight of the last nine games. She also plays in the most minutes for the Crusaders (606). She averages 13.1 points per game, which ranks second on the team and fifth in the Patriot League. Opponents also view her as a scoring threat, as she has gone to the free-throw line a team-high 110 times, sinking 78 shots. Her perfect six-of-six free throw outing against Rhode Island was the fifth time this season and 33rd time in her career that she has made every one of her free throw attempts. McFadden has led or tied for the team's top scoring performance in five contests and has made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. She is second on the team in rebounding average (4.5 rebounds per game). Her 27 offensive and 49 defensive rebounds also rank second. She is 26 rebounds away from tying her career-high of 102 rebounds in a season from 2008-2009.
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 12 of 17 contests, including a six-game streak from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 204 points, just 39 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. She played a career-high 45 minutes in the double overtime game against Northeastern on Dec. 5 and has started every game so far this season, proving her worth. She has marked a season-high of nine rebounds three times this season, against Maine on Nov. 27 and versus Dartmouth on Jan. 2 and most recently against Army on Jan. 13. 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 three contests (18 at Yale, 17 at Bryant and 15 at Army) and has also led or tied the team in top rebounds in nine of 17 performances. She is averaging 33.8 minutes played per game, which is already 15 more minutes played than her career average of 18.7 minutes. She also remains the team's top free throw shooter, sinking 39 of 45 attempts. In 17 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (201) and is second in field goals made (80). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 91 boards, an average of 5.4 rebounds per-game and eight 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 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. She hit new heights as she recorded her first career double-double against Lafayette on Jan. 9, leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 12 points and a career and season-high 10 rebounds. After 16 total games, Lepley has increasingly become the team's most versatile player. She has scored in double-digits in five contests and has at least two rebounds in the last 16 contests, averaging 3.2 rebounds per game. For her continued impact and improvement, Lepley has been named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week three times, most recently after notching her first career double-double and putting up 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in games from Jan. 4-Jan. 10. She has played at least 20 minutes in the last 10 contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned 10 starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last seven games. She has already tied for the team-high in rebounds in three contests (four against Boston College, five against Penn State and 10 against Lafayette), bringing her total rebounds to 54 in 17 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (96) and scoring average (5.6). She ranks second on the team with a .435 field goal percentage and seven blocks.
MOTIVATING WARD: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has played in all 17 games, including eight starts for the Crusaders at point guard, uses an interesting method as motivation. When not listed as a starter, Ward responds with top career performances and has made herself the team's go-to player off the bench. Most recently, Ward provided a last minute rally that brought the game against Army down to the wire, making a clutch three-point shot and follow-up jumper to get the Crusaders within two points of the Black Knights. She finished the game with eight points (two-of-four from the field). 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), three-point shots attempted (4) and tied her career-high of 34 minutes played. She has made a basket in the last six contests, averaging 8.2. She has also hit a three-point shot in four of the last six contests, totaling 11 this season. She now has nine more three-point shots made than her two three-pointers from the entire 2008-2009 season. She has improved tri-fold in scoring as well, earning a 4.6 points per game average so far, compared to the 1.2 points she averaged last year. In 17 contests, Ward averages 24.8 minutes, a 35.8 field goal percentage and 1.4 rebounds. She ranks second on the team and 15th in the league with 36 assists, tripling her six assists from all of last year.
SLIPPERY SLOPE: The 80-71 victory over Rhode Island on Jan. 5 was a major uplift for the Crusaders, who had lost the prior eight games. The eight game slide was the worst for the team since becoming a Division I competitor, as it was also the worst losing streak head coach Bill Gibbons had ever encountered. The only other team to lose more games in a row was the first-ever women's basketball team in Holy Cross history. The squad, who played as a Division III institution, lost all 12 of their games in the 1974-1975 season. The second-worst losing streak came during the 1979-1980 season under head coach Kevin McAuley. That year's team dropped nine straight game before going on to win seven of the final nine game played. The 1979-1980 team finished with an overall record of 9-12. Unfortunately a new slide seems to be evolving, as the team has lost its first two Patriot League games to Lafayette and Army. The two losses are something a Holy Cross team is not familiar with in its 20 seasons of Patriot League competition, as the only other team to start down 0-2 is the 2006-2007 squad. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, as the 2006-2007 team, who posted the worst league record (7-7) in program history, rallied together at the right time. Instead of bowing out, the squad went on to win the Patriot League Tournament as a No. 3 seed, earning the program's last last berth into the NCAAs.
MAJOR MINUTES: The team's three scoring leaders, seniors Briana McFadden and Bethany O'Dell and junior Whitney Fremeau also spend the most time on the court for the Crusaders, rightfully so. McFadden is first on the team with an average of 35.6 minutes. Fremeau follows with an average of 33.8 minutes played while O'Dell clocks in behind with an average of 32.9 minutes. O'Dell has scored the most points in the amount of minutes played (247 points in 560 total minutes) while McFadden has tallied 223 in 606 minutes. Fremeau, who has played in a total of 574 minutes, has scored 204 points. The three rank fourth, seventh and ninth amongst their Patriot League opponents in minutes played respectively.
BEYOND THE ARC: The Crusaders have capitalized on their biggest scoring weapon this season, the three-point shot, after marking their best performance against Rhode Island (13-of-22, .591). The combined 13 three-point shots made ties the team record for a single game, set back on Jan. 29, 1996 against Providence. It also ranks second amongst Patriot League team performances this season. In 17 contests, the team has attempted 317 three-pointers, compared to their opponents who have tried 300 three-point shots. The team needs 52 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots made from the 2008-2009 season. The team has hit a dry spell however, making just five three-point shots in 31 attempts. The Crusaders now have a .344 three-point percentage overall. The team has shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in four of the last six contests, including the season-high 59 percent performance against Rhode Island. 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 49 three-pointers made.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 17 games this season and registered their best performance against Rhode Island, missing just one free throw attempt (17-18 total). The team continued to stay strong, missing just two of 14 free throw attempts in the Patriot League opener against Lafayette. In 17 games, the team averages 71.5 percent from the line, making 223 of 312 tries. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 12 contests, including three of the last four match-ups. The team did hit a rough patch, marking a season-low eight-for-15 (53.3 percent) free throw performance on Dec. 29 against La Salle. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and is third in the Patriot League with a free throw average of .867 percent (39-45). 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.
THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 142 steals in 17 games, an average of 8.4 steals per-contest. The team ranks second amongst Patriot League opponents in the steals category and is averaging 0.7 more steals than the 2008-2009 team. They combined to steal the ball a season-high 16 times against Northeastern on Dec. 5 and have stolen the ball over 10 times in six contests. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 30 steals thus far, fourth highest in the league. Her six-steal performance against Northeastern also ranks amongst the league's individual highs.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been the most troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. However, the 15 total points scored in the first half against Lafayette on Jan. 9 was a season-low and ranks among the fewest points scored in a half in team history. The team scored a record-low 13 points in the second half against Connecticut on Dec. 7, 2000. 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 nine of 17 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 495 points in the first half next to opponents' 536 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided and has proved detrimental for the team. Opponents currently tally a 591-490 second half scoring advantage. Luckily, the team has escaped second-half comeback attempts in four 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 and resulting in two overtime losses (against Northeastern and Howard).
ROLLER COASTER RIDE: The Holy Cross women's basketball team, who came into the Jan. 5 contest against Rhode Island averaging under 60 points per-game and a 36.5 percent field goal average, combined all forces to put forth its best offensive performance of the season. After 40 minutes of play, the team came away with its best overall field goal performance of the season, making 51 percent of its shots, second-highest among all Patriot League teams this season. The team also marked its top three-point performance, 13 of 22 three-point shots (59 percent). The Crusaders added a 17-of-18 free throw outing (94 percent), another season-high. Fast forward to the Jan. 9 game against Lafayette. Instead of continuing to put up top numbers, the team registered its worst offensive performance of the season. The first half saw just three of 24 field goal attempts fall for 15 points, one of the least amount of points scored in a half in Holy Cross team history. The team finished with .250 field goal percentage, its lowest this season. The Crusaders also made just one of 16 three-point shot attempts (6.3 percent). The 39 points scored in the game was the second-lowest point production this season, as Holy Cross mustered 34 points against No. 1 Connecticut on Dec. 2.
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, as each team brought down 32 boards apiece. With six players listed under 6-0, rebounding has been a struggle. In 17 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 692-521, a margin of 10.1 boards per game. The team started the season with its best rebounding outing, 41 against Yale, but then 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 at least 30 rebounds in the last five contests and currently averages 30.6 rebounds per game. Holy Cross is led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.4 rebounds per contest.
ROAD WARRIORS: The 2009-2010 season began with eight contests away from the Hart Center and completes its non-conference portion of the season with a 3-8 away record. Looking to improve on the road, the Crusaders play in three consecutive road games against conference foes Army, Bucknell and Navy. Amongst those three teams, Holy Cross has won 37 and lost 18 road match-ups all-time. The team hosted Connecticut at the DCU Center on Nov. 20 and then hosted 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.
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 480-258 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.
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 16 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least three spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 223 total points this season, just moved past Ann Lambiotte (1,354 career points) to take full grasp of the No. 10 spot with 1,418 career points. McFadden has also jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. O'Dell, who leads the team with 247 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,351 total career points. She has moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne for 12th place, just behind Ann Lambiotte. She needs three points to take hold of the 11th spot.
SCOUTING THE BISON:
Record: 4-11, 0-2 Patriot League
Head Coach: Kathy Fedorjaka became the longest-tenured head coach in the 37-year history of the Bucknell women's basketball program with the start of the 2004-2005 season. Now in her 13th season at the helm of the Bison, Fedorjaka has amassed 193 wins and just 169 losses during her tenure in Lewisburg, including a 4-11 record so far this season. Since taking over the Bison, Fedorjaka has climbed the charts and is now among the veterans of the Patriot League coaching ranks. She ranks second among conference coaches in career wins with 256, while her 98 league victories ranks third.
2009-2010 Squad: This year's Bucknell team enters Saturday's game with a 4-11 record, 0-2 in the Patriot League. Holy Cross and Bucknell are the only league teams to have not won a game so far this season, as the Bison have lost decisions to Navy (70-40) and most recently American (63-51). They have earned non-conference wins against Fordham, Loyola (Md.), Lycoming, and Cornell while dropping decisions to Maryland-Baltimore County, Miami, Iona, Penn State, Niagara, Yale, Towson, Drexel and Buffalo. The Bison stand at 3-3 at Sojka Pavilion on the season. The team returns eight letter winners, including three starters. Sophomore guard Trisha Krewson leads the team offensively with 11.3 points per game while sophomore forward Joyce Novacek leads the team defensively with 7.5 rebounds per game. Getting off to a good start has been crucial for the Bison this season, as they are 4-1 when leading after the first half.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross rounds out its three-game road stretch with a visit to Annapolis, Md. to take on Navy. The game will be held at Alumni Hall beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 20. The Crusaders hold a 37-5 all-time record against the Midshipmen.