Crusaders Wrap Up Home Stand Against Undefeated Boston College

Meredith Ward

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The Teams: Holy Cross (4-4, 0-0 PL) vs. Boston College (8-0, 0-0 ACC)
Date: December 8, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600) 

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Listen Here
Television Coverage: WCTR-TV3, Worcester; Kevin Shea; play-by-play, Kevin Wells; color
Unofficial Live Statistics: Click Here

Series Record: Boston College leads, 23-9
Last Meeting: Boston College 90, Holy Cross 57 (November 24, 2009, Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

THE SERIES WITH BOSTON COLLEGE: Wednesday's contest will be the 33rd meeting between the Crusaders and Eagles, with Boston College owning a 23-9 all-time record over Holy Cross. The series dates back to 1978 and has become an annual match-up since the 1978-1979 season. Head coach Bill Gibbons holds a 5-20 record against the Eagles. Boston College head coach Sylvia Crawley, in her third season at the helm, has won both match-ups she has had against Holy Cross, including an 82-69 victory on Nov. 18, 2008 and a 90-57 win over the Crusaders last season in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Winning has come in twos for the Crusaders against the Eagles, as they nabbed their first back-to-back victories in the 1981-1982 season. The team then earned two consecutive wins in 1990 and 1991, lost the next four meetings and then rallied for two more winning seasons in 1996 and 1997. The Eagles are currently riding a 12-game win streak to the Hart Center on Wednesday, as the Crusader last beat out Boston College on Dec. 9, 1997, 80-68. When playing on the Hart Center hardwood, the Eagles have won nine of the 14 match-ups.

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 will play a total of two teams with the Eagles mascot this season, Boston College and American. 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 24-32 all-time record against Eagles opponents.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ACC: In program history, Holy Cross has played against eight of the 12 teams that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This season, the squad will face Boston College and Virginia as their only ACC competitors. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 9-25 record against the Eagles and Cavaliers. Against the other six conference teams, the Crusaders have notched three wins and eight losses throughout program history. The team boasts a winning record against North Carolina State (1-0), has an even record with Maryland (1-1) and North Carolina (1-1) and has posted losing records against Duke (0-4), Miami (0-1) and Wake Forest (0-1). The squad has never played Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech.

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and Boston College is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and Boston College are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit ''.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Sophomore starting forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) proved that she can 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. Lepley also led the squad with three steals while scoring six points and bringing down six rebounds against Harvard. Lepley has now posted double-digit outings in the last two games, including 13 points against Central Connecticut and 10 points in the win over Maine. She has now led or tied the team-high in rebounding in five out of the eight games. She has also led the team in points once (against Yale), in steals three times and in assists three times. Currently, she averages a team-leading 6.6 rebounds and 10.0 points per game (third on the team). She also ranks third in assists (3.6) and fourth in steals (2.0) average, seventh in rebounds and 16th in scoring amongst Patriot league leaders. She has also played in an average of 27.9 minutes per game, is shooting .413 from the floor (33-for-80) and has a team-high 26 assists and 16 steals. 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. 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 completely emerged into her role as a starting guard for the Crusaders. Smith reached new heights in the game against Maine, as she poured in a season-best 21 points, the most points a Holy Cross player has put up so far this year. She has tallied back-to-back games where she notched five of her three-point field goal attempts, making a total of 10 three point shot over two games. She has also posted double-figures in the last four games. Smith has now either led or tied for the team lead in points in three out of the eight games played thus far, marking five double-digit scoring affairs. Smith, who has started in all contests, is averaging 11.6 points-per-game, second highest on the team. She led the squad with 12 points against Connecticut and notched 16 points against New Hampshire, tying for the team-high. She notched 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the win against Harvard, making four of her six three-point shots as well. Smith has now led the team in its last two games, the 21 points against Maine and 15 points against Central Connecticut. She has taken the reigns as the squad's top three-point shooter, sinking 24 treys on 65 tries (36.9 percent) so far this season. Smith ranks 20th in the nation and first amongst league leaders in three-pointers made per game (3.0). She is also seventh in three-point field goal percentage and 11th in scoring average amidst league standings. She is also within the top-10 in assists (eighth), steals (ninth) and minutes played (fifth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 32.1 minutes.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Senior forward Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) opened up the season with 13 points against Yale, seven scores against Connecticut and then broke through for the Crusaders 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. 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 and then 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 notched her fourth double-digit scoring affair of the season with a 15-point performance in the win over Harvard, making six of her 12 field goal attempts and followed with nine points, six rebounds and three assists against Central Connecticut. She went 6-for-12 against Maine, posting her fifth double-digit scoring affair of the season. Currently, Fremeau averages a team-best 11.9 points per game, which ranks eighth amongst Patriot League individuals. Fremeau also averages 30.6 minutes per game, ranking seventh in the league and is shooting 38.5 percent from the floor (40-of-104), 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 and ranks second amongst league performers with a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio. She averages 3.4 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the league as well.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the eight 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 225 of the team's 510 total points, are bringing down 108 rebounds and have 42 assists and 33 steals. Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) is third on the squad with 12 steals while Smith is first with a team-best 257 minutes played. Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) ranks second on the team with 44rebounds as well.

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), who began 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. In her second consecutive start against Harvard, Ward broke out for a career-best 17-point outing sinking seven of her 11 field goal attempts. Her seven field goals made were a career-high as she also posted six assists, a season-best. Ward has consistently shown the fire and intensity the team needs in the point guard role as she has four double-digit scoring outings in eight games played. 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. Ward also showed her aggressive defensive side, pounding the boards for a career-best six rebounds. Ward followed with a team-high 10-point effort against Fordham, collecting 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. After making both of her free throws against Maine, Ward brings her season total to 23 free throws made in 25 tried. She leads all Patriot League players with a 96.0 percent free throw percentage. After collecting two points against Central Connecticut and four scores against Maine, Ward now averages 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Her scoring average of 7.5 points ranks 21st amongst league leaders as well.

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 has not been an issue in almost all of the games played thus far. They pounded Yale on the boards in the first game of the season, collecting 40 rebounds next to the Bulldogs' 28 and then picked up a 51-45 rebounding edge against Quinnipiac, who had four of its five starters listed over 5-8. Its 51 rebounds were a team-high so far this season. Holy Cross also topped Harvard with a 44-34 rebound advantage and then out-rebounded Central Connecticut 45-41. To date, the team has 293 rebounds, including 98 offensive and 195 defensive boards. Lepley leads with 53 rebounds (40 defensive) while the team as a whole has 32 rebounds. Opponents have tallied 313 rebounds, including 109 offensive and 204 defensive. The squad has been out-rebounded by Connecticut (48-16), Fordham (45-29), New Hampshire (39-36) and most recently Maine (33-32). Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) leads the team with 15 offensive rebounds, tallying 33 rebounds in all.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season. She led the squad in rebounds for the first in her career against Fordham, pounding the boards for eight grabs. She followed that performance with eight more rebounds against New Hampshire, one shy of the team-high. Eight seems to be her lucky number as she tallied eight more rebounds in the win over Harvard. Against Central Connecticut and Maine, Ganser brought down a total of 10 rebounds (five in each game). She also tallied a season-best 10 points against the Blue Devils, including seven points in the paint and her first career three-point shot. She followed with nine points against the Black Bears, notching season-highs with three field goals made in five attempts. Because of her defensive efforts, Ganser now ranks second on the team with 44 total rebounds. She has also made her way up on the list of Patriot League bests, as she ranks 11th in rebounding average (5.5) and 10th in defensive rebounds (4.4 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, as does Meredith Ward's 12-for-12 free throw performance against Quinnipiac. Smith has tallied a number of top league performances as her 14 three-point attempts against Connecticut are a game-high and her five three-point field goals made against Central Connecticut are second next to Bucknell's Shelby Romine's six three-point shots made on Dec. 4. She has also tallied the second-highest number of steals (five against New Hampshire). Fremeau and Lepley's seven assists, against Yale and New Hampshire respectively, are also second-highest.

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, May and 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 eight games of action, the captains have put up 191 points, 87 rebounds and 55 assists.

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 480-249 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.

WELCOME 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.

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 38 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.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross takes a break in game action until Dec. 19, when they will travel to Smithfield, R.I. for a match-up with the Bryant Bulldogs. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center.  

Record: 8-0 Affiliation: ACC

HEAD COACH: Sylvia Crawley is in her third season at the helm of the Boston College women's basketball program. In her career, she has coached her squads to 86 wins and 52 losses. In Crawley's first season at Boston College, the 2008-2009 Eagles went 23-12 overall, 7-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and advanced to the Final Four of the WNIT Championship. Crawley was the head coach at Ohio University for two seasons prior to taking over at Boston College. She led the Bobcats to a 20-13 record in 2007-2008, which was the first time the program earned 20 wins since 1994-95.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Eagles stand at a perfect 8-0 so far this year, winning against Boston University (84-65), Hartford (93-66), Dartmouth (87-61), Vermont (85-50), Seton Hall (85-46), Sacred Heart (83-47), Penn State (113-104) and Massachusetts (93-80). The squad's 113 points posted against the Nittany Lions set a new program record for most points scored in a game. Senior center Carolyn Swords leads the team with 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, and has hit 78.3 percent (65-of-83) of her field goals and 78.6 percent (22 of 28) of her free throw attempts. Fellow senior forward Stefanie Murphy has averaged 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while the team's three other starters, senior Jaclyn Thoman, sophomore Kerri Shields and freshman Kristen Doherty are all averaging over 10.0 points per game. Boston College is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 15-17 while tallying six wins and eight losses in ACC play.