Women's Basketball Hosts Harvard On Sunday Afternoon

Brisje Malone

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The Teams: Holy Cross (2-3, 0-0 PL) vs. Harvard (3-1, 0-0 Ivy League)
Date: November 28, 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600)

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Listen Here
Unofficial Live Statistics: Prestosports Live
Series Record:
Holy Cross leads, 6-5
Last Meeting: Harvard 74, Holy Cross 57 (December 2, 2009, Cambridge, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST HARVARD: Sunday's contest between Holy Cross and Harvard marks the 12th meeting between the two teams, with the series dating back to the 1977-1978 season. The teams played annually for six-consecutive years, with the Crusaders winning four of the six match-ups. The first game, back during the 1977-1978 season, was the worst loss for Holy Cross, who was a Division III team at the time. The Crusaders only managed to score 19 points against the Crimson, losing by a 73-19 final. In the team's inaugural season as a Division I program, Holy Cross earned its third victory of the series, topping Harvard on Dec. 11, 1982, 85-67. Sixteen years later, on Dec. 3, 1999, head coach Bill Gibbons won his first match-up against the Crimson, 89-61, at the ECAC Holiday Festival held at the Hart Center in Worcester. The teams have played in four-consecutive seasons after a seven-year hiatus. Since the 2006-2007 season, Harvard has won three of four games against Holy Cross, outscoring them 284-239. The Crusaders aim for their fourth victory against the Crimson at the Hart Center, as Holy Cross is 3-2 when playing in Worcester, Mass. Gibbons is 2-3 when playing Harvard while Crimson head coach, Kathy Delaney-Smith, is 4-3 when taking on Holy Cross. Harvard is also on a three-game win streak against the Crusaders coming into Sunday's match-up.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE IVY LEAGUE: In program history, Holy Cross has played against four of the eight teams that compete in the Ivy League. Harvard will be the second Ivy League opponent the team has faced this season, as the Crusaders opened the 2010-2011 slate with a 74-71 defeat to the hands of Yale. The squad will also play Dartmouth on Jan. 2 to complete its Ivy League competition this season. Harvard and Yale have been the most frequent Ivy League teams on the Holy Cross schedule, competing against the Crusaders a combined 23 times. Dartmouth will face Holy Cross for the eighth time this season while controlling the all-time series 5-2. Brown is the fourth and final Ivy league team Holy Cross has competed against, as thr Crusaders have won all three meetings.

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 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. Against New Hampshire, Lepley combined for 11 points and nine rebounds while also leading the squad with seven assists. She has now led the team in rebounding three times, in points once (against Yale), in steals once (4 against Fordham) and in assists three times. Currently, she averages a team-leading 7.0 rebounds and 10.2 points per game (second on the team). She ranks fifth in assists, seventh in rebounds and 13th in scoring amongst Patriot league leaders. She has also played in an average of 29.2 minutes per game and is shooting .412 from the floor (21-for-51) and has a team-high 21 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. 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.

SMOOTH SMITH: Freshman Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) has settled in to her role as a starting guard for the Crusaders. Smith has now either led or tied the team in points in two out of the five games played thus far. Smith, who has started in all contests, is averaging 8.6 points-per-game, ranking third on the team. She led the squad with 12 points against Connecticut and most recently put up a season-best 16 points against New Hampshire, tying for the team-high. She has also taken the reigns as the squad's top three-point shooter, sinking 10 treys on 35 tries (28.6 percent). She had her best offensive outing this season against New Hampshire, making five of her 15 field goal attempts. She led the team with a season-best five steals and saw a season-best 33 minutes played.

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 then followed that performance with two points and five rebounds against Fordham. Fremeau made her way back to the top in the win against New Hampshire, sinking seven of her 13 field goals to tie the team-high with 16 points while adding five boards. She averages a team-best 11.6 points per game, which ranks ninth amongst Patriot League individuals. Fremeau also averages 30 minutes per game, ranking 10th in the league standings. She is shooting 37.5 percent from the floor (24-for-64), as she leads the team in both field goals made and field goals attempted. 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: Through the five games played so far this season, the five-member freshman class is showing why head coach Bill Gibbons has so much faith in their immediate impact on the program. So far, the newcomers have scored 127 of the team's 294 total points, are bringing down 67 rebounds and have 23 assists and 23 steals. Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) leads the squad with 10 assists while Smith has clocked a team-best 154 minutes played.

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who has started the season as the team's sixth-man off the bench, moved in to the starting role at guard against New Hampshire on Nov. 23. Ward has consistently shown the fire and intensity the team needed in the point guard role as she has three-consecutive outings of double-digit scoring. She brought the team the force it needed to beat Quinnipiac on Nov. 17 as she 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 10-point effort against Fordham, collecting season-highs with five field goals made in eight attempts. She tallied 11-points on 2-for-6 shooting against New Hampshire, also sinking seven of her eight free throws to bring her season total to 19 free throws made in 20 tried. She leads all Patriot League players with a 95 percent free throw percentage. On the season, Ward now averages 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 21.4 minutes played.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING: With no player on the roster listed taller than 6-1, 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 five 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 172 rebounds, including 60 offensive and 112 defensive boards. Lepley leads with 35 rebounds (27 defensive) while the team as a whole has 19 rebounds. Opponents have tallied 205 rebounds, with Connecticut earning 48 and Fordham tallying 45.  New Hampshire brought down just three more rebounds than the Crusaders, finishing the Nov. 23 game with a 39-36 rebound edge.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season as she led the squad in rebounds for the first time this season against Fordham, pounding the boards for eight rebounds. She followed that performance with eight more rebounds against New Hampshire, one shy of the team high. Because of her efforts, Ganser now ranks second on the team with 26 total rebounds. She has also made her way onto the list of Patriot League bests, as she ranks 16th in rebounding average (5.2) and 12th in defensive rebounds (4.2 per-game).

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 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line against Quinnipiac is a league-best as well. Fremeau's seven assists against Yale, Lepley's seven assists against New Hampshire and Smith's five steals against the Wildcats 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 TEAM CAPTAINS: 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, 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 is 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 five games of action, the captains have put up 111 points, 47 rebounds and 25 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 31-7 all-time edge over Fordham, falling to the Rams on Nov. 20. 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 478-248 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 plays in game three of its home stand on Wednesday, Dec. 1 against Central Connecticut. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. The Crusaders have never lost just once to the Blue Devils on their home hardwood.

Record: 3-1 Affiliation: Ivy League

HEAD COACH: Kathy Delaney-Smith is in her 29th season at the helm of the Harvard women's basketball program. She is the winningest Ivy League women's basketball coach of all-time, owns a 28-year coaching record at Harvard of 439-307, with a 258-112 record in Ivy League play. Included in those marks are nine 20-win seasons, 11 Ivy titles, a .500 record or better in 21 of the last 22 campaigns, and eight postseason appearances.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Crimson stands at 3-1 so far this year, winning its first two games against Maine (73-54) in its season opener and then Oral Roberts (84-76). The squad fell to Patriot League foe Navy 65-60, but then rallied for a 69-58 road win against Boston University the last time out. Senior Emma Markley leads the team with 14.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, while hitting 48.1 percent (25 of 52) of her field goals and 90.0 percent (9 of 10) of her free throws. Sophomore Victoria Lippert has averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, while junior Brogan Berry has added 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. Harvard is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 20-9, and placed second in the Ivy League with a 11-3 mark in league games.