Women's Basketball Looks To Continue Winning Ways At Navy
Game Day Quick
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-13, 1-2 PL) vs. Navy (9-9, 1-2 PL)
Date: January 20, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Alumni Hall (5,710), Annapolis, Md.
Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre,
play-by-play, www.worcesterpike.com, internet
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, www.all-access.cbssports.com
Record: Holy Cross leads, 37-5
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 67, Navy 58 (February 18, 2009, Annapolis, Md.)
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NAVY: Saturday's match-up will be the 43rd meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Navy, with the Crusaders owning a 37-5 advantage over the Midshipmen. The teams first met in during the 1992-1993 season, as the Crusaders won 75-62 in Annapolis, Md. Holy Cross continued to win the next seven meetings, outscoring Navy 555-503. The Crusaders compiled their largest win streak of 11 games against the Mids from Feb. 22, 2004 until March 8, 2008 after winning 10 straight from Feb. 9, 1999-Feb. 23, 2003. Out of the five total losses against Navy, three of them have come on the road. The Mids won back-to-back meetings at Alumni Hall on Feb. 8 1995 and Jan. 17, 1996 and picked up another win on Jan. 17, 1999. Holy Cross has not lost a game in Annapolis since then. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 37-5 record while Navy head coach Stephanie Pemper holds a 1-1 record against the Crusaders since taking over the reins of the women's basketball program last year. Holy Cross currently holds a one-game win streak after splitting last year's decisions, a 59-50 Hart Center loss on Jan. 21, 2009 and a 67-58 road victory on Feb. 18. 2009.
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. After gaining a victory at Bucknell on Jan. 16, the Crusaders now stand at 1-2 in league play. Over the last 20 seasons and in the three games played this season, the team has competed in a total of 255 league match-ups, dropping only 54 games total, a .788 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.
O'DELL STILL ON TOP: Despite limited playing time due to injury, senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) has made it clear that she remains on top of her game. She played a season-low 13 minutes against Army on Jan. 13, totaling an impressive 11 points (five-of-eight from the field). She then played 19 minutes and was not listed a starter for the first time this season against Bucknell on Jan. 16. O'Dell responded to the limited minutes with a team-high 16 points, going four-of-13 from the field, including three three-point shots made. Her influence is now written in the Patriot League record books as she now holds the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers (267). 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 game 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. She now has 52 three-point shots made this season and 267 for her career. O'Dell is an undeniable team leader in her senior season as she leads the team with an average of 14.6 points per game average, topping out in points (263) and field goals made (90). O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 19th in three-point field goals percentage (45.8) and 20th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) as of Jan. 14.
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. The game against Bucknell on Jan. 16 was the first time in McFadden's four-year career that she did not suit up for the Crusaders due to a concussion from the Army game. Since coming to Holy Cross, McFadden has played in 112 contests, including 109 starts at guard. Through the 18 contests so far this season, McFadden has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 14 contests, including eight of the last 10 games. McFadden averages 13.1 points per game and even after sitting out on Jan. 16, she still ranks second on the team and fifth in the Patriot League in scoring. 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) and 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 set during the 2008-2009 season.
FREMEAU REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: Junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) is continuing to establish herself as a valuable scorer, rebounder and overall team player for the Crusaders. So far this season, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in 12 of 18 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 212 points, just 31 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. Fremeau most recently set a new career-high as she marked eight assists against Bucknell on Jan. 16, topping her prior career-high of five assists, which she tallied twice. 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 value. She has marked a season-high of nine rebounds three times this season, against Maine on Nov. 27, versus Dartmouth on Jan. 2 and 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 18 performances. She is averaging 33.7 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 18 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (215) and is second in field goals made (84). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 93 boards, an average of 5.2 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. With her double-double, Lepley became the only freshman in the league to reach such a feat this season and is also the only member on the 2009-2010 Holy Cross roster to score a double-double as a freshman. After 18 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 17 contests, averaging 3.5 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 11 contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned 11 starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last eight games. She has already led or tied for the team-high in rebounds in four contests (four against Boston College, five against Penn State, 10 against Lafayette and nine against Bucknell), bringing her total rebounds to 63 in 18 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (102) and scoring average (5.7). She ranks second on the team with a .422 field goal percentage and is tied for first with eight blocks.
WARD IN THE CLUTCH: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has played in all 18 games, including nine starts for the Crusaders at point guard, has turned herself into a clutch player down the stretch for her team. In the last two contests against Army and Bucknell, Ward has sparked two scoring runs to get her team back in to the game. 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). At Bucknell, Ward again hit a last-minute shot towards the end of the first half, bringing the game to a one-possession Bison leading heading in to the locker room. She finished that game with eight points as well, going three-of-six from the field and played a career-high 38 minutes on the floor. 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), three-point shots attempted (4). She has made a basket in the last six contests, averaging 8.2. She has also hit a three-point shot in five of the last seven contests, totaling 13 this season. She now has 11 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 4.8 points per game average so far, compared to the 1.2 points she averaged last year. In 18 contests, Ward averages 25.5 minutes, a 37.0 field goal percentage and 1.3 rebounds.
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 games before going on to win seven of the final nine game played. The 1979-1980 team finished with an overall record of 9-12. A new slide was halted once again with the win against Bucknell, 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: Two of the team's top scoring leaders, senior Briana McFadden 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 33.7 minutes played. McFadden has tallied 223 points in 606 minutes. Fremeau, who has played in a total of 607 minutes to lead the team, has scored 212 points. The two rank in a tie for third and sixth amongst their Patriot League opponents in minutes played respectively. Senior Bethany O'Dell, who has limited her playing time in the last two games, is third on the team list with an average of 32.2 minutes per game. Most impressively, she has tallied the most points, scoring 263 points in 579 total minutes played.
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 18 contests, the team has attempted 338 three-pointers, making 116 of them (.343 percent). Opponents have tried 317 three-point shots and have sunk 98 (.307 percent). The team needs 45 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots made from the 2008-2009 season after they collected seven more three-point shots made against Bucknell on Jan. 16. Over the last three contests, the team has made 12 three-point shots in 52 attempts (.231 percent). The team has shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in four of the last seven 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 52 three-pointers made.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: The Crusaders have remained strong from the free throw line through 18 games this season. The team has missed just one free-throw attempt in three contests this season, including their best performance against Rhode Island on Jan. 5, missing just one free throw attempt (17-18 total, .944). The team continued to stay strong, making 12 of 13 free throw attempts on Jan. 16 against Bucknell. In 18 games, the Crusaders have shot more free throws then their opponents in 11 contests, winning five of those games. In all, the team averages 72.3 percent from the line, making 235 of 325 tries. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 13 contests, including four of the last five 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 three times with six makes against Northeastern, New Hampshire and Dartmouth. 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.
THIEVES IN THE NIGHT: The 2009-2010 Crusaders have been quick on their feet, collecting 154 steals in 18 games, an average of 8.6 steals per-contest. The team ranks second amongst Patriot League opponents in the steals category and is averaging 0.9 more steals than the 2008-2009 team (7.7 average). 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 seven contests. They have marked more steals then their opponents in eight games. Their 16-steal performance ranks as a conference-high. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 31 steals thus far, sixth highest in the league. Her six-steal performance against Northeastern also ranks amongst the league's individual highs.
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 602 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 78 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 126 dishes.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been the most troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. For the first time since the Dartmouth game on Jan. 2 and the third time this season, the Crusaders scored more points than their opponent in the second half, outscoring Bucknell 31-17 on Jan. 16. Also of note, 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 18 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 519 points in the first half next to opponents' 561 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided and has proved detrimental for the team. Opponents currently tally a 608-521 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 Jan. 16 game against Bucknell also marked the first time Holy Cross has come back from a halftime deficit to win this season.
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 38 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 481-258 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 18 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 263 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,367 total career points and now holds the 11th spot, passing Ann Lambiotte. She has also moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne.
Record: 9-9, 1-2 Patriot League
Head Coach: Stephanie Pemper is in her sophomore season as head coach of the Navy Midshipmen, having compiled a 16-15 record, including an 8-6 Patriot League record last year. She had led this year's squad to a 9-9 overall record and is 1-2 in league play. The 16 wins attained by the 2008-2009 squad was an improvement of nine wins over the 2007-2008 season and ranked as the most improved team in Navy women's basketball history. Pemper arrived in Annapolis after compiling a 235-48 record over her decade as the head coach of Bowdoin, a Division III school.
2009-2010 Squad: This year's Navy team enters Wednesday's game with a 9-9 record, 1-2 in the Patriot League. Holy Cross and Navy currently rank third in league standings with the 1-2 mark. The squad has dropped its last two decisions, 64-56 at Lehigh and 46-43 at Lafayette. They won their first league meeting with Bucknell, 70-40, on Jan. 8. They have also earned non-conference wins against High Point, Elon, Ohio, Loyola (Md.), Delaware State, Western Illinois, Penn and Air Force while falling to Liberty, Maryland-Baltimore County, Texas-San Antonio, Delaware, Towson, Harvard and Dayton. The team returns six letter winners, including three starters. Junior Cassie Consedine leads the team offensively and defensively with an average of 10.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds. Junior guard Angela Myers is the other scorer averaging double-digits for the team, scoring 10.0 points 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. The Midshipmen stand at 4-2 when playing at home so far this season.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross returns home to face American on Sunday, Jan. 24. The game, which will be broadcast on CSTV, starts at 2:00 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. The game will also promote National Girls & Women in Sports Day as well as a Hart Center White Out, where fans are encouraged to wear white and pack the stands for a full day of sports and entertainment.