Women's Basketball Returns Home To Face American Sunday

Meredith Ward

Full Game Notes In PDF Format

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-14, 1-3 PL) vs. American (11-7, 4-0 PL)
Date: January 24, 2010
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: Sports Juice Radio; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Television Coverage: CBS College Sports, Bob Socci; play-by-play, Pam Roecker; color

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 14-5
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 58, American 55 (February 21, 2009, Worcester, Mass.) 

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST AMERICAN: Sunday's match-up will be the 20th meeting between Holy Cross and American. The Eagles became the most recent member of the Patriot League during the 2001-2002 season and have been an annual competitor for Holy Cross since Jan. 26, 2002. The teams first met on Dec. 3, 2000 at the St. Joseph's Classic championship game. The Crusaders topped the Eagles, 67-62, to earn the championship title. Holy Cross then went on to win the following five meetings with its Patriot League opponent, scoring at least 60 points in every triumph. The Eagles broke the six-game slide on Feb. 20, 2004 at Bender Arena by a score of 81-65. The Crusaders then put together another five-game win streak, including a 57-49 victory over the Eagles in the 2006 Patriot League Tournament. That year also marked the last time Holy Cross hosted the tournament. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 14-5 record while current American head coach, Matt Corkery, stands at 1-1 after his first season playing the Crusaders. Holy Cross looks to extend its one-game win streak over American on Sunday as the Eagles collected three-consecutive victories prior to the last meeting. 

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 falling at Navy on Jan. 20, the Crusaders now stand at 1-3 in league play. Over the last 20 seasons and in the four games played this season,  the team has competed in a total of 256 league match-ups, dropping only 55 games total, a .785 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 201-55 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 16 wins in 44 contests. Bucknell is the only other squad with over 10 wins against the Crusaders, earning 12 wins in 47 contests.

PLAYING THE EAGLES: The nickname Eagles is the most frequently used name of four-year college mascots, with a total of 76 institutions holding the title. Holy Cross has already played one other team with the Eagles mascot this season, Boston College. Out of the other 74 colleges, the Crusaders have played against four schools with the Eagles mascot. Boston College and American have been annual competitors for Holy Cross while two other Eagles opponents, Coppin State and Eastern Michigan, have been on the Holy Cross schedule. The Crusaders traveled to play the Eagles of Eastern Michigan in the first game of head coach Bill Gibbons' career on Nov. 23, 1985, winning 90-58, and then played against the Coppin State Eagles on Dec. 29, 1991 at the St. John's Classic. In all, Holy Cross has collected a 24-29 all-time record against Eagles opponents. 

SUNDAY PROMOTIONS: Sunday will serve as a full day of sports and entertainment at the Hart Center. First, Holy Cross has entered in to the NCAA Pack the House Challenge and looks to set a Hart Center attendance record, as well as winning the national competition. The first-ever Hart Center White Out will be held Sunday as well. Fans are encouraged to support the women's team by filling the stands wearing white. Limited edition white "Sader Nation" t-shirt will be available for purchase to help support the effort. Finally, Sunday will serve as the annual nation-wide Girls and Women in Sports Day. All girls and women's teams in attendance will receive special recognition for their commitment to sports. 

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: The game against American will be broadcast on CBS College Sports Televison (CSTV) and marks the fourth time this season a Holy Cross game has been on television. Currently the Crusaders stand with a record of 1-2 in televised games. Two more away games will be broadcast live, including the Jan. 30 meeting with Lehigh (Service Electric) and the Feb. 6 match-up with Lafayette (Lafayette Sports Network).

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 three 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. On Jan. 20, against Navy, O'Dell was held to four points after playing a total of 15 minutes, making just one three-point shot attempt. Most impressively, the Navy game was just the 11th time in O'Dell's 110 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, an 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 14.1 points per game, topping out in points (267) and field goals made (91). O'Dell also ranks amongst the nation's best, ranking 20th in three-point field goals percentage (44.8) and 19th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) as of Jan. 17.

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. She returned to the starting lineup on Jan. 20 against Navy, scoring 13 points on five-of-10 shooting. Since coming to Holy Cross, McFadden has played in 113 contests, including 110 starts at guard. Through the 19 contests so far this season, McFadden has remained one of the team's most consistent performers, scoring in double-digits in 15 contests, including nine of the last 11 games. McFadden averages 13.1 points per game and even after sitting out on Jan. 16, 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 111 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 currently averages 4.4 rebounds per game and is 23 rebounds away from tying her career-high of 102 rebounds in a season set last year.

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 13 of 19 contests, including a six-game streak from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. She has been the team's top-scorer in two of the last three contests, posting 15 points against Army and Navy. She has already tied her career-highs in field-goals made (8, twice) and points (18, twice) and has scored 227 points, just 16 points away from the 243 points she scored in the entire 2008-2009 season. Fremeau recently set a career-high with eight assists against Bucknell on Jan. 16, topping her prior career-high of five assists.  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 brought down a season-high of nine rebounds three times so far, 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 also led or tied the team in top rebounds in nine of 19 performances. She averages 34.0 minutes played per game, ranking fifth amongst Patriot League players. Fremeau remains the team's top free throw shooter, which ranks third in the league, sinking 40 of 47 attempts. In 19 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (226) and is second in field goals made (90). She is also the team's leading rebounder and shot-blocker, totaling 99 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 19 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 18 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 12 contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned 12 starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last nine 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 67 in 19 contests. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (104) and scoring average (5.5). She ranks second on the team with a .402 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 19 games, including 10 starts for the Crusaders at point guard, has turned herself into a clutch player down the stretch for her team. In the two contests against Army and Bucknell, Ward has sparked two scoring runs to get her team back within one-possession. 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 score to a one-point Bison lead 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. She most recently posted her second double-digit scoring game of the season, posting 11 points on Jan. 20 against Navy, also recording the best free-throw performance of her career (six-of-six from the line). Ward earned a career-high 15-point outing not listed as a starter against Howard, also tallying career-highs in field goals made (6); three-point shots made (3) and three-point shots attempted (4). She has scored in the last seven contests after not scoring in the prior five games. Over the stretch, Ward averages 9.7 points. She has also hit a three-point shot in six of the last eight contests, totaling 15 this season. She now has 13 more three-point shots made than her two three-pointers recorded last year. She has improved tri-fold in scoring as well, earning a 5.2 points per game average so far, compared to the 1.2 points she averaged last season. In 19 contests, Ward averages 26.0 minutes, a 36.7 field goal percentage and 1.4 rebounds. 

CAREER DAY FOR MAY: Junior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) posted a career-high 10 rebounds in the Jan. 20 game against Navy, topping her previous career-best of nine rebounds. The game also marked the fifth time this season that May has either led or tied the team-high in rebounding. She currently ranks second on the team with a total of 88 rebounds, including a team-high 41 offensive boards. Her defensive efforts also rank amongst the Patriot League bests, as she ranks 17th in total rebounds and sixth in offensive rebounding. May's influence does not stop there as she has also led or tied for the team-high in assists five times and in steals five times as well. She ranks 15th in Patriot League individual categories, averaging 1.2 steals and 2.0 assists per game.  Through 19 contests, May also averages 23.6 minutes, 4.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 

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 in Jan. 5 (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 19 contests, the team has attempted 357 three-pointers, making 125 of them (.350 percent). Opponents have tried 346 three-point shots, making 111 of them (.321 percent). The team needs 36 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots made from the 2008-2009 season after they collected nine additional three-point shots made against Navy on Jan. 20. Over the last four contests, the team has made 21 three-point shots in 71 attempts (.296 percent). The team has shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in five of the last eight contests. 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 19 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 (17-18 total, .944). The team continued to stay strong, making 12 of 13 free throw attempts on Jan. 16 against Bucknell. In 19 games, the Crusaders have shot more free throws then their opponents in 12 contests, winning five of those games.  In all, the team averages 72.4 percent from the line, making 244 of 337 tries. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 14 contests, including five of the last six match-ups. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team and is third in the Patriot League with a free throw average of .851 percent (40-47). She marked career-highs three times with six makes against Northeastern, New Hampshire and Dartmouth. 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 158 steals in 19 games, an average of 8.3 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, a conference-high.  They have stolen the ball over 10 times in seven contests and have marked more steals then their opponents in eight games. Senior Bethany O'Dell is the team-leader with 31 steals thus far, seventh 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. 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. 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 19 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 556 points in the first half next to opponents' 603 points. The second half is a bit more lopsided and has proved detrimental for the team. Opponents currently tally a 641-544 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 Howard (87-80). The Jan. 16 game against Bucknell marked the first time Holy Cross has come back from a halftime deficit to win this season.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has played in just five home games so far this season, earning their first win on Jan. 5 and falling in four Hart Center contests. In program history, however, the Hart Center has traditionally been a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Crusaders currently has a .792 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 and holds an all-time 325-100 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.

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 481-259 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 236 total points this season, just moved past Ann Lambiotte (1,354 career points) to take full grasp of the No. 10 spot with 1,431 career points. McFadden has also jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. O'Dell, who leads the team with 267 points thus far, has now entered the 1,300-point mark with 1,371 total career points and now holds the 11th spot, passing Ann Lambiotte. She has also moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne.

Record: 11-7, 4-0 Patriot League
Head Coach: American head coach Matt Corkery is currently in his second season at the helm of the women's basketball program. He posted a winning record of 19-12 in his first season, including a 9-5 Patriot League record. The Eagles' 10-5 non-conference record was the best in school history, and their 19 total victories were the most since the 1997-98 campaign. His 2009-2010 squad is currently on a five-game win streak and stands at 11-7 on the season (4-0 Patriot League). Corkery was named to his current position on May 19, 2008 after serving as American's associate head coach during the 2007-08 campaign. In total, Corkery has been on the Eagles staff for five seasons.

2009-2010 Squad: This year's American team enters Sunday's game with an 11-7 record, 4-0 in the Patriot League. The team has not lost since Jan. 2 and has outscored Patriot League opponents 276-223, topping Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate and most recently Army. They have also picked up non-conference wins against Maryland-Eastern Shore, Buffalo, Morgan State, High Point, NJIT, Brown and Howard while falling to Princeton, East Carolina, Wagner, Drexel, Maryland St. Francis (Pa.) and Columbia. The Eagles are 3-4 in road contests and 7-2 at home. The team returns nine letter winners, including three starters from last season. Junior forward Michelle Kirk leads the team and league offensively with 19.9 points per. Fellow junior forward Liz Leer leads the team's defense with a team-high average of 6.3 rebounds per game.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will play in its final home game of the month on Jan. 27, hosting the Colgate Raiders. Tip time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. The Crusaders look to improve to 17-0 against the Raiders at home as the all-time series record is set at 39-3.