Women's Basketball Begins Homestand Against New Hampshire On Tuesday

Amy Lepley

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GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams:
Holy Cross (1-3, 0-0 PL) vs. New Hampshire (1-2, 0-0 America East)
Date: November 23, 2010
Time:
7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play. Listen here
Unofficial Live Statistics: Presto Sports
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 12-7
Last Meeting: New Hampshire 80, Holy Cross 72 (Dec. 20, 2009, Durham, N.H.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NEW HAMPSHIRE: Tuesday's match-up marks the 20th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and New Hampshire. The series started during the 1983-1984 season, with both schools members of the ECAC conference. The teams played twice that season, with New Hampshire earning the regular season and ECAC tournament victories. The Crusaders did not pick up a win against the Wildcats until head coach Bill Gibbons took the reins, picking up his first victory, 83-67, on Jan. 9, 1988 at the Hart Center. The team continued on a five-game win streak over the next five seasons, outscoring New Hampshire 393-338. Gibbons lost his first contest against the Wildcats during the 1993-1994 season and has only lost two more match-ups since then. The two squads competed annually from 1987-1988 until 2000-2001, with Holy Cross tallying a 10-2 overall record in play. The Crusaders and Wildcats have met eight times on the Hart Center hardwood with Holy Cross winning six times. New Hampshire enters the Nov. 23 contest on a one-game win streak as they won last year's meeting 80-72. Wildcat head coach Maureen Magarity, in her first season at the helm, faces Holy Cross for the first time.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE: Holy Cross has played against seven of the nine teams that compete in the America East Conference. This season, Holy Cross will play two America East teams, Maine and New Hampshire. The Crusaders will face Maine on Dec. 4. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 21-10 record against Maine and New Hampshire. Against the other seven conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 31 wins and 14 losses throughout program history. New Hampshire has been the most frequent America East opponent for Holy Cross as they have played in 19 total match-ups against the Wildcats, earning 12 victories. The Crusaders boast winning percentages against Albany (2-1), Boston University (9-2), Hartford (3-3), and Maryland-Baltimore County (1-0) while posting a losing percentage with Vermont (6-8). The squad has never faced Binghamton or Stony Brook.

PLAYING THE WILDCATS: In all of collegiate athletics, there are 31 teams with the nickname Wildcats. Tuesday's game against the New Hampshire Wildcats will mark the one and only time the Holy Cross Crusaders meet up with a Wildcats team this season. The Crusaders have played against a total of four schools out of the 31 that bear the nickname, including Arizona, Kentucky, Northwestern and Villanova. All together, the Crusaders hold a 16-10 record against those teams. New Hampshire has been the most frequent Wildcats opponent as the team holds a 12-7 record over them. Holy Cross has also posted a 2-0 record against Arizona, a 0-1 record against Kentucky, a 0-2 record against Northwestern and a 2-2 record against Villanova.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Sophomore starting forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) proved that she could indeed play in full strength as she has already recorded two double-doubles this season, an 18-point, 11-rebound outing against Yale and then a 13-point, 12-rebound effort in the team's first win against Quinnipiac. Her 12 rebounds against Quinnipiac were a career-high while her 17 field goal attempts against Yale were also a career-best. She tied her career-high with nine made field-goals against the Bulldogs as well. She has now led the team in rebounding twice as she last posted six points and one rebound against Fordham. Currently, she averages a team-leading 6.5 rebounds and 10.0 points per game, also ranking eighth and 12th amongst conference players respectively. She has also played in an average of 27.8 minutes per game and is shooting .439 from the floor (18-for-41) and has a team-high 14 assists. Lepley was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team last season after playing a full season of basketball for the first time since her junior year in high school, averaging 23.7 minutes, 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season. Lepley also claimed six Patriot League Rookie of the Week awards and recorded a team-best two double-doubles. The Massachusetts native also finished the season with a 44.2 field goal percentage, a team-high, and led the team in rebounding in four contests, including a season-high 10 rebounds twice.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Senior forward Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.), who opened up the season with 13 points against Yale and seven scores against Connecticut, gave the Crusaders the scoring spark they were looking for as she poured in a career-high 20 points in the team's 72-60 win over Quinnipiac on Nov. 17. Fremeau finished the game making seven of her 17 field goal attempts, both season-highs, as 15 of her points were posted in the second half as well. Her 20 points bested her previous career-high of 18 points, which she collected four times over her career. She followed that performance with two points and five rebounds against Fordham as she still averages a team-best 10.5 points per game, which ranks ninth amongst Patriot League individuals. Fremeau also averages a team-high 30.8 minutes per game, ranking sixth in the league standings, shoots 38.1 percent from the floor (16-for-42) and averages four assists per game, which is eighth in the league as well. She collected seven assists against Yale in the season opener, one shy of her career-high set against Bucknell on Jan. 16, 2010.

THE FROSH IMPACT: The five-member freshman class of Kristen Fuery (Dresher, Pa.), Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.), Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.), Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) and Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) has showed why head coach Bill Gibbons' decision to make immediate use of his newest team members was correct. Out of the 71 points Holy Cross put up on the board against Yale, the freshman class tallied 38 of them. They also played a combined 89 minutes, going 15-for-25 from the floor (60 percent shooting). Malone and Hamner had double-digit scoring performances, marking 14 and 13 points respectively. Ganser added seven points while Smith finished with four points. The freshman also brought down 28 rebounds in that first contest. Against Connecticut, the freshman continued to put up top-team numbers as Smith tallied a team-high 12 points, making four three-point field goals. Malone was the team leader in rebounding as she brought down five of the team's 16 total rebounds. Smith tied the team-high with three assists while Malone tracked down the team's lone steal against the Huskies as well. Against Quinnipiac, Smith, Hamner, Malone and Ganser combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds. Malone led the squad with a season-high of four steals as well. In the loss against Fordham, Ganser led the squad with a season-high eight rebounds while Smith tied for the team-high with two assists. Fuery saw her first action against the Rams, making her first basket to finish with two points.

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has started the season as the team's sixth-man off the bench, brought the team the intensity it needed to beat Quinnipiac on Nov. 17. Ward, who came into the contest averaging just two points per game, broke through for her first double-digit performance, a 14-point effort that included a career-high 12-for-12 free throw shooting endeavor. Her 14 points were one-shy from her career-high of 15 points, set against Howard last season. Ward also showed her aggressive defensive side, pounding the boards for a career-best six rebounds. She tallied 12 of her points and four of her rebounds in the second half, boosting her team to the 12-point victory. Ward followed with a team-high 10point effort against Fordham, collecting season-highs with five field goals made in eight attempts. She also played a season-high 25 minutes. On the season, Ward now averages 6.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 19.5 minutes played.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING: With no player on the roster listed taller than 6-0, the Holy Cross women's basketball team knew that height may be a challenge in terms of team defense. However, the Crusaders showed that height was not an issue in two of their first four games as they pounded Yale on the boards on Nov. 12, collecting 40 rebounds next to the Bulldogs' 28. The team then picked up a 51-45 rebounding edge against Quinnipiac, who had four of its five starters listed over 5-8. To date, the team has 136 rebounds, including 48 offensive and 88 defensive boards. Lepley leads with 26 rebounds (19 defensive) while the team as a whole has 14 rebounds. Opponents have tallied 166 rebounds, with Connecticut earning 48 and Fordham tallying 45. 

STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: So far this season, a number of Holy Cross player's performances have been at the top of the league's individual player game highs. Lepley's nine field goals made against Yale rank first, while Smith's four three-point field goals made against Connecticut rank second. Smith's 11 three-point tries against UConn are also a high. Ward's recent 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line is a league-best as well. Fremeau's seven assists against Yale and Malone's four steals against Quinnipiac round out the team's top performances as they rank second in their respective categories. 

CRUSADERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth in the 2010-2011 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 42 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving nine first-place votes as senior forward Michelle Kirk was also voted Preseason Player of the Year. The Eagles earned a league-high 93 points and was followed closely behind by reigning Patriot League Champion, Lehigh, who received seven first place votes and 91 points. Navy was picked third with 70 points, while Army (59 points) and Holy Cross (42) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Colgate and Lafayette tied for sixth place with 40 votes and Bucknell wrapped up the standings in eighth place with 31 points. 

FREMEAU, MAY AND WARD NAMED 2010-2011 TEAMCAPTAINS: Fremeau and Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), along with Ward were named captains for the 2010-2011 season. Fremeau topped the team in rebounding last year and ranking 10th in the league as well with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game. She is also a threat not only on defense but on offense as well as she also posted a 12.3 scoring average, ranking seventh amongst league individuals and third on the team last season. She was named to the second team All-Patriot League for her efforts. May will be the veteran starting in the backcourt, as she returns as the team's best defensive player. As a junior, she averaged 22.1 minutes, 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Her 4.1 rebound average was second highest on the team. Ward is also listed among the veterans in the backcourt, as she moves from the point guard position to the shooting guard in her junior season. Ward saw action in all 31 games last season, averaging 26.8 minutes, 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. She ranked second on the team and ninth in the Patriot League with 72 assists, averaging 2.3 assists per game. Combined, the three scored 661 out of the 899 points posted by the team's returning letterwinners. They also pulled down 348 out of the 502 rebounds collected by this year's returners. Through the first four games of action, the captains have put up 79 points, 38 rebounds and 19 assists.

WELCOME (BACK) TO WORCESTER: There are two new faces handling front office duties for the 2010-2011 Crusader basketball squad, assistant coaches Chante Bonds and Kristin Drabyn. Bonds spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Fairleigh Dickinson University women's basketball team. In addition to her assistant coaching responsibilities at FDU, Bonds scheduled the team's travel arrangements, worked with the strength and conditioning program and recruited on the east coast and Canada. She was a four-year letter winner on the Bentley women's basketball team, graduating in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Informational Design and Corporate Communication. Drabyn spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Texas Tech. While at Texas Tech, Drabyn assisted in the everyday operations of the women's basketball program, including serving as the video coordinator. Drabyn was also a four-year member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County women's basketball team. She graduated as the school's all-time record holder in free throw percentage (90%) and in made three pointers (169). She co-captained the squad as a senior and was an All-Conference selection in 2008. In 2007, UMBC was the America East Tournament champions, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Drabyn was also named the America East Sportsmanship winner in 2007. A 2008 graduate of UMBC with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Communications and Exercise Physiology, Drabyn earned her Master's degree in Sports Management from Texas Tech in 2010. A familiar face will also work with the women's basketball team this season as former Holy Cross basketball standout, Brittany Keil, rejoins the Crusader family as the team's strength and conditioning coach. Keil will also work directly with the Crusader men's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball, softball, field hockey, volleyball, women's tennis, cross country and track & field squads.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2010-2011 season is the first instance under Gibbons' tutelage that a player on the roster has not participated in the NCAA Tournament. The last time a Holy Cross team made the NCAA Tournament was at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Holy Cross has played in the Big Dance 12 times, posting a 1-12 all-time record. It received a team-best seventh seeding in 1985 and played as the 16th seed in its last appearance, 2007. The Crusaders have also participated in the WNIT, playing in the 2002 season.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: Despite its preseason ranking, the Holy Cross women's basketball team has its eyes set back on the top spot amongst the Patriot League's eight teams. Since its inaugural season back in 1991, the team has posted 237 league victories and just 63 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. The team was seeded fifth in the tournament last season, a program low, but proved that it could not be counted out, topping Army, 57-53 in the quarterfinal round before falling to the 2010 champion, Lehigh, in the semifinals. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 41-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 43-8 record against Lafayette. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 24 of the 63 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 11 wins against Holy Cross as well. 

RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES: Fordham, a former Patriot League foe, Massachusetts, an in-state rival, and Quinnipiac reenter the Crusaders' slate this season. The Crusaders and Rams have played in a total 37 contests, dating back to the 1983 season. Holy Cross holds the 31-6 all-time edge over Fordham, last earning a 70-62 victory in 2003. Massachusetts and Holy Cross have faced off 16 times in program history and will vie for the lead in the all-time series as it is tied at 8-8. The Minutewomen own a three game win-streak against Holy Cross, however, winning the last meeting 77-46 in 2007.

AND STARTING NEW ONES: Holy Cross will also face two brand new opponents this season, East Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T. The Crusaders will play these two teams in its only tournament of the season, the Marriott Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia. The two teams will definitely present a challenge for Holy Cross, as ETSU boasted an overall record of 23-9 last season and an 18-2 Atlantic Sun record. North Carolina A&T went 23-11 overall, but was also dominant in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finishing with a 14-2 league record.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 26th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 26th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 30th as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2010-2011. He has compiled a 477-248 record as head coach, ranking 28th on the active Division I win leaders list. Most recently, Gibbons earned his first career victory over Quinnipiac, a 72-60 win on Nov. 17. 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.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross returns to action after the Thanksgiving break on Sunday, Nov. 28, facing Harvard for a 1:00 p.m. at the Hart Center. The Crusaders look to avenge an 74-57 defeat against the Crimson from last season as the all-time series is set at 6-5, advantage Holy Cross. Harvard currently sits at 2-1 after falling most recently to Navy.

SCOUTING NEW HAMPSHIRE

Record: 1-2 Affiliation: America East

HEAD COACH: Maureen Magarity is in her first season as head coach of the New Hamoshire women's basketball program. She is the youngest coach of a Division I team - men's or women's - in the country, is the sixth head coach in the 35-year history of the Wildcat program. Magarity comes to UNH after a four-year stint at the United States Military Academy, where she served as the associate head coach from 2009-10.

2010-2011 SQUAD: New Hampshire stands at 1-2 so far this year, falling to Notre Dame 99-48 in its season opener, then topping Dartmouth 65-52 and most recently losing to Brown 66-54. Freshman Kelsey Hogan leads the team with an average of 9.7 points per game, while hitting 36.0 percent (9 of 25) of her field goals and 75.0 percent (6 of 8) of her free throws. Sophomore Cari Reed has averaged 9.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, while freshman Sarah Frankenberger has added 8.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest. New Hampshire is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 9-22, and placed ninth in the America East Conference with a 3-13 mark in league games.