Women's Basketball Starts Three Game Homestretch Against Army Wednesday
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (7-16, 3-5 PL) vs. Army (9-13, 3-5 PL)
Date: February 10, 2010
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, www.all-access.cbssports.com
Series Record: Holy Cross leads,
Last Meeting: Army 65, Holy Cross 61 (January 13, 2010, West Point, N.Y.)
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST ARMY: Wednesday's match-up will be the 45th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Army, with the Crusaders owning a 28-16 advantage over the Black Knights. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play. The Crusaders won the first meeting at the Hart Center, 67-57 on Jan. 23, 1991. The Crusaders went on to win the next four meetings, outscoring Army 255-221. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 28-16 record, as he suffered his first career loss against the Black Knights, 54-52, in an away game on Jan. 13, 1993. The Hart Center has been a friendly atmosphere for the Crusaders, as they have posted 15 wins in 20 match-ups against the Black Knights in Worcester, Mass. Army head coach Dave Magarity has been very successful against Holy Cross, collecting a 10-1 record in his first four seasons at the helm. Army won the first seven contests with Magarity as head coach before the Crusaders broke up the slide on Jan. 14, 2009, 57-41. The Black Knights currently hold a three-game win streak going into Wednesday's game after winning the last meeting, 65-61 in West Point, N.Y.
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 topping Lafayette 50-47 in Easton, Pa. this past weekend, the Crusaders now stand at 3-5 in league play, tying with three other teams for fourth place. Over the last 20 seasons and in the eight games played this season, the team has competed in a total of 260 league match-ups, dropping 57 games total for a .781 winning percentage. The current 3-5 conference record is the worst start for a Holy Cross team since becoming a member of the Patriot League. 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 203-57 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. Holy Cross has collected the best winning percentage (.930) against Colgate, winning 40 of 43 games played.
PLAYING THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army is the only school amongst collegiate athletic teams that has taken on the specific Black Knights nickname. While there is only one Black Knights team, 25 schools bear the Knights nickname. Combined, the Crusaders have only faced two of those schools, Army and Mount Saint Mary's. In program history, Holy Cross has compiled a 30-15 record against programs with the Knights mascot.
O'DELL ON TOP: Senior Bethany O'Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) remains on top of her game despite limited playing time over the past three weeks. After seeing a combined 67 minutes of playing time in five games, O'Dell has continued to be an offensive threat, as she remains the team's top performer in points per game (13.0) and three-point field goals made (52). O'Dell also continues to rank amongst the nation's best, ranking 26th in three-point field goals percentage (44.8) and 41st in three-point shots made per game (2.6) as of Jan. 31. Her influence is now written in the Patriot League record books as she currently holds the Patriot League's all-time record for made three-pointers (267). Highlighting this season was O'Dell's career-best performance against Howard, where she scored 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. 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 2009-2010, going six-for-seven beyond the arc, an 85.7 percent three-point outing. In 111 career games played, O'Dell holds the top spot in the Holy Cross record books with her 267 three-point shots made and 669 attempts.
SEASONED IMPACT: Senior captain Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) has continued to add on to her already stellar career stats so far this season, using her veteran status as a model of inspiration. After the team had lost in the prior eight consecutive contests, McFadden led the charge against Rhode Island on Jan. 5, tallying a season-high 27 points on a season-best 8-for-16 field goal performance to help achieve a much needed 80-71 victory. She also marked career-bests for three-point shooting, making five-of-seven shots beyond the arc. 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 has returned to the starting lineup since, combining to score 54 points in five games. She tallied a .550 field goal percentage during the week of Jan.17-24 and has shot at least 50 percent from the field in four of the last eight games. She notched her best field-goal performance of the season in the game against American, sinking six of her 10 attempts (.600). Since coming to Holy Cross, McFadden has played in 117 contests, including 114 starts at guard. Through 23 contests so far this season, McFadden has scored in double-digits in 17 contests, including 11 of the last 15 games. McFadden averages 12.6 points per game, ranking 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 126 times, sinking 88 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 six contests, including a 16-point performance against American on Jan. 24. She has also made herself the team's most consistent rebounder, tying her career-high of nine rebounds against Howard on Dec. 30. She currently averages 4.5 rebounds per game and is just four 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.) has fully established herself as a valuable scorer, rebounder and overall team player for the Crusaders this season, and has illustrated her importance now that Patriot League play has begun. In the eight conference games so far, Fremeau averages 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, leading the team in both categories. She has also accumulated the most playing time, posting 274 minutes on the hardwood against league opponents. In all 23 games, Fremeau has scored in double-figures in 16 contests, including a six-game streak from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20 and in the last three games. She has been the team's top-scorer in four of the last six contests. Her offensive production peaked in the meeting with Colgate, where she tied her top career-mark of 18 points after making a career-high nine field goals. She also posted the team-high of 15 points against Army (Jan. 13) and Navy (Jan. 20) and 14 points against Lafayette (Feb. 6). She has now tied her career-high in points three times this season and has scored 276 points, topping the 243 points she scored over 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, a streak which dates back to the Feb. 25, 2009 game against Colgate last season. She has recorded a season-high of nine rebounds four times so far, including the games against Maine on Nov. 27, Dartmouth on Jan. 2, Army on Jan. 13 and most recently against Lafayette. 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 11 of 23 performances. She averages 33.9 minutes played per game, ranking fifth amongst Patriot League players. Fremeau remains the team and league's top free throw shooter, making 44 of 52 attempts (.846). In 22 games played, she leads the team in field goal attempts (276) and field goals made (111). She is also the team's leading rebounder, totaling 123 boards, an average of 5.3 rebounds per-game.
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/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. During the week of Jan. 25-31, Lepley tallied 11 points, five rebounds, six steals, two assists and a block in the Crusaders' triumph over Colgate and added five points, four steals and four rebounds against Lehigh. Because of her strong performances on the hardwood and for her continued impact and improvement, Lepley has been named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week four times, more than any other conference player this season. She picked up her fourth award on Feb. 1 after averaging 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game in the two outings against Colgate and Lehigh. After 23 total games, Lepley has increasingly become the team's most versatile player. She has scored in double-digits in seven contests and notched yet another career-high against Colgate, tallying a team-high six steals. Her performance also ties senior Bethany O'Dell's top individual performance from the Northeastern game. She has played at least 20 minutes in 14 of the last 16 contests, including a season-high 41 minutes against Howard. She has also earned 16 starts for her efforts, including three-consecutive starts against Maine, Penn State and Harvard and again in the last 13 match-ups. 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 79 on the season, an average of 3.4 rebounds per game. She leads her class in all categories thus far and is within the team's top five in all scoring categories including points (124) and scoring average (5.4). She ranks third on the team with a .397 field goal percentage and is now the team leader in steals (35) and second blocks (9). Her 1.6 steals per game average ranks seventh in the Patriot League.
WARD IN THE CLUTCH: Sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has played in all 23 games, including 14 starts for the Crusaders at point guard, has turned herself into a clutch player and has been the spark of many last minute rallies. Most recently, Ward came through for seven points in the final three minutes of play against Lehigh on Jan. 30, including a three-point shot made with 10 seconds left on the game clock, giving the Crusaders a fighting chance at the end. At Bucknell on Jan. 16, 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, going three-of-six from the field and played a career-high 38 minutes. Her scoring continues to improve as she recently posted double-digits in four of the last five games, tallying 11 points in three consecutive contests against Navy (Jan. 20), American (Jan. 24) and Colgate (Jan. 27) and then 10 points against Lehigh (Jan. 30). She recorded the best free-throw performance of her career (six-of-six from the line) against Navy and then proved her defensive prowess as she led the team with seven rebounds against American, notching her career-high. She tied her career-high with three three-point shots made against Colgate as well. Ward leads the team in three-point shot percentage (.440), sinking 22 of 50 attempts. Ward is also averaging 8.0 points against Patriot League opponents, third-best on the team. Also highlighting her sophomore season was a career-high 15-point outing against Howard, as she also tallied career-highs in field goals made (6); three-point shots made (3) and three-point shots attempted (4). She has also hit a three-point shot in nine of the last 12 contests. She now has 20 more three-point shots made than her two three-pointers recorded last year. She has improved tri-fold in scoring as well, earning a 5.8 points per game average so far, compared to the 1.2 points she averaged last season. In 23 contests, Ward averages 27.4 minutes, a .345 field goal percentage and 1.7 rebounds.
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 on 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 23 contests, the team has attempted 437 three-pointers and has made 147 (.336). The .336 percentage ranks second amongst Patriot League foes. Opponents have tried 412 three-point shots, making 124 of them (.301). The team most recently held Lafayette to three three-point shots made in 11 attempts. Combined, Holy Cross' three-point field goal defense percentage ranks fourth in the league. The team needs 14 more three-point shots made to tie the 161 shots made from the 2008-2009 season after they collected four additional three-point shots made against Lafayette on Feb. 6. In league play, the team has made 41 three-point shots in 145 attempts (.285 percent) and has shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc in six of the last 12 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 23 games. The team has missed just one free-throw attempt in four contests this season, including their best performance against Rhode Island on Jan. 5 (17-18 total, .944). The team has continued to stay strong, making 13 of 14 free throw attempts (.929) on Jan. 27 against Colgate. Through all games so far, the Crusaders have shot more free throws then their opponents in 12 contests, winning five of those games. In all, the team averages 73.2 percent from the line, making 282 of 385 tries, ranking second in the Patriot League. They have shot over 65 percent from the line in 17 contests, including eight of the last 10 match-ups. Junior Whitney Fremeau leads the team with a free throw average of .846 percent (44-52). 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 with their hands, collecting 189 steals in 23 games, an average of 8.2 steals per-contest. The team ranks second amongst Patriot League opponents in the steals category and is averaging 0.8 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, also marking a conference-high. They have stolen the ball over 10 times in nine total contests, including 13 steals against Colgate and 10 steals against Lehigh. The Crusaders have also marked more steals then their opponents in 10 contests. Freshman Amy Lepley, who collected 10 steals in two games, now ranks first on the team with 36 steals on the season. She also ranks seventh in the league, right above senior Bethany O'Dell who has collected 32 total steals. Both have recorded six steals in a single game, marking a team high.
CHANGING THE LINE: Through 23 games so far, the Holy Cross starting lineup has changed on nine separate occasions. Two starting lineups have been used a game-high five times. The squad has used five different starting lineups over the last eight games, combining for a 3-5 record. The most successful starting lineup, registering a 2-3 record, consisted of seniors Briana McFadden, Bethany O'Dell, Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.), sophomore Meredith Ward and junior Whitney Fremeau. They picked up wins against Central Connecticut and Bryant while dropping decisions to Yale, Connecticut and Boston College.
HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross is currently averaging 13.3 assists per game, ranking second in the Patriot League. On the season, the team has collected a total of 307 assists, including senior Briana McFadden's team-high of 55 assists. The team has combined for more than 10 assists in 17 contests, including four of the last five meetings. They tallied a season-high of 20 assists twice, including the two overtime games against Howard and Northeastern. The team has also either tied or led opponents in assists in 10 games. McFadden currently ties for sixth in the conference with a 2.5 assist per game average amongst conference individuals.
TURNOVER TENACITY: Turning the ball over has not been a problem for the Crusaders this season, as they currently own a +0.9 turnover margin through 23 games. The margin is the third-best in Patriot League ranks. Altogether, the team has turned the ball over just 382 times while opponents have turned the ball over 402 times. The team is 5-6 in games where they turn the ball over less than opponents while they stand at 1-8 when they commit more turnovers. This theory proved true most recently against Lehigh on Jan. 30, as Holy Cross notched 21 turnovers next to Lehigh's 18 turnovers, falling by the final 58-52 score. The team marked 11 turnovers against Colgate's 19 turnovers on Jan. 27, winning by the final score of 65-56. The 11 turnovers made by the team against marked the season-low.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Scoring in the second half has been the most troublesome for the Crusaders so far this season. There have been three occasions out 23 total games where the Crusaders have outscored opponents in the second half, including the games against Dartmouth (Jan. 2), Bucknell (Jan. 16) and Lehigh (Jan. 30). Holy Cross recorded its hardest fought comeback effort against Lehigh, outscoring the Mountain Hawks 21-5 in the final seven minutes of the second stanza. 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 11 of 23 match-ups. In all, Holy Cross has scored 666 points in the first half next to opponents' 714 points (-48 points). The second half is a bit more lopsided as opponents currently tally a 755-652 second half scoring advantage (-103 points). Luckily, the team has escaped second-half comeback attempts in six contests, including the last game against Lafayette where the Leopards missed a three-point shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The team has lost a halftime 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. The team has also never gone in to the halftime break with a tie, as they are 1-11 after trailing at halftime and 6-5 when leading.
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. The Feb. 6 game at Lafayette became just the second time this season that the team has not been outrebounded, as the team combined for a 41-24 rebounding advantage. The 41 rebounds tied the team's season-high set back on the first game of the season against Yale. The Jan. 24 game against American was also a milestone, as Holy Cross outrebounded the Eagles 38-36, marking the first game of the season Holy Cross had a positive rebounding margin. With six players listed under 6-0 and no real post player, rebounding has overall been a struggle. In 23 contests, opponents are out-rebounding the Crusaders 912-723, a margin of 8.2 boards per game. The team pulled down a season-low 21 rebounds against No. 1 Connecticut and has brought down fewer than 30 rebounds in six games thus far. Holy Cross has, however, posted at least 30 rebounds in 10 of the last 11 contests and currently averages 31.4 rebounds per game. The Crusaders are led by junior Whitney Fremeau who averages 5.3 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 483-261 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.
HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross has played in seven home games so far this season, earning two wins and falling in five Hart Center contests. They currently have a one game win streak at home after topping Colgate 65-56 on Jan. 27. In program history the Hart Center has traditionally been a place where opponents have had trouble adjusting to. The Crusaders currently have a .791 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 as the program holds an all-time 326-101 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 127 of 156 meetings against this year's home opponents. The last team to finish the season with a losing home record was the 2003-2004 squad, who posted five wins and seven losses on the Hart Center hardwood. Only four teams all-time have ended their seasons with losing home records.
SENIOR EXPERIENCE LEADS THE WAY: The 2009-2010 women's basketball squad boasts a wealth of experience, with five seniors leading the way. The senior class includes Tayana Carper, Christy Cushnie (Vienna, Va.), Briana McFadden, Bethany O'Dell and Jessica Pearson (West Chester, Pa.). The seniors were the last class to compete in the NCAA Tournament after they won the 2007 Patriot League Championship as freshmen. That year they were seeded as a No. 16 seed and played No.1 Duke in the Greensboro region. The five players have combined for 420 games played, having won 54 games, including 37 Patriot League match-ups. The 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 squads posted the most three-pointers made in single-season team history and also marked the most three-pointers attempted. The senior class also contributed to teams that rank among the best in school history in free throws attempted, free throw percentage and most games played.
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 761 points and have stolen the ball a position-high 93 times. The guard position also leads the team in assists, combining for 170 dishes.
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 20 contests so far, the two captains have already jumped at least three spots on that list. McFadden, who has scored 277 total points this season, just moved past Ann Lambiotte (1,354 career points) to take full grasp of the No. 10 spot with 1,472 career points. McFadden has also jumped Kris Shields, Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne. O'Dell, who has scored 274 points thus far, has moved into the 1,300-point mark with 1,378 total career points and holds the 11th spot, passing Ann Lambiotte. She has also moved past Mary Helen Walker and Anna Kinne.
SCOUTING THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army enters Wednesday's game with an overall record of 9-13 on the year, including a 3-5 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards have lost the last two consecutive contests, and are coming off a 61-47 loss at Colgate. Junior forward Erin Anthony leads the team with averages of 16.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, while hitting 51.1 percent (145 of 284) of her shots from the field. Junior guard Nalini Hawkins has averaged 10.7 points per game and hit 30.2 percent (19-63) of her three-point field goal attempts, while junior guard Jessie Coiffard has added 7.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. Army is led by head coach Dave Magarity, who owns an overall record of 70-43 in four seasons with the Black Knights.
NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will continue its three-game homestretch against Bucknell on Saturday, Feb. 10. Tip time is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. The game will serve as the team's Pink Zone Breast Cancer Awareness Day and features an auction of player practice jerseys after the game with the money being donated to support of the Zona Fund, a trust fund set up for the children of Mary McInerney-Zona, beloved sister of women's basketball assistant coach Ann McInerney.