Women's Basketball Plays In Mid-Day Match-Up At Northeastern Tuesday

Christine Ganser

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The Teams: Holy Cross (4-6, 0-0 PL) vs. Northeastern (4-5, 0-0 CAA)
Date: December 21, 2010
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Place: Solomon Court (2,500)

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio, www.goholycross.com; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Listen Here

Unofficial Live Statistics: www.gonu.tv
Northeastern Video Streaming: www.gonu.tv

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 13-3
Last Meeting: Northeastern 89, Holy Cross 82 (2OT) (December 5, 2009, Worcester, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NORTHEASTERN: Tuesday's competition between Holy Cross and Northeastern marks the 17th time in program history that the two teams have matched up. The Crusaders hold an all-time 13-3 advantage over the Huskies, with Northeastern taking the last two victories coming in to Tuesday's game. The teams first met in 1983 when they were both members of the EAIAW conference. The Crusaders won that first match-up in high fashion, topping the Huskies 54-50 on their way to earning the EAIAW championship crown. Head coach Bill Gibbons faced Northeastern for the first time on Dec. 21, 1988, overwhelming the Huskies for a 21-point victory, 78-56. The teams have played six times in the last 10 years. Holy Cross suffered its first loss in program history to Northeastern on Dec. 20, 2004 as the Huskies earned a 68-64 road victory that year. Northeastern head coach Daynia La-Force Mann is a perfect 2-0 when facing Holy Cross, as she won her first meeting with the Crusaders in the 2008-2009 season, topping Holy Cross 66-47, and then following with an 89-82 double overtime victory last year. The Crusaders are also 7-1 when playing on Northeastern's home hardwood, Solomon Court.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: In program history, Holy Cross has played against six of the 12 teams that compete in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). In all, the Crusaders have won 23 of the 28 match-ups against CAA opponents. Northeastern and Hofstra have been the most frequent CAA teams on the Holy Cross schedule, competing against the Crusaders a combined 23 times. Northeastern is the only CAA opponent on the 2010-2011 schedule for the Crusaders. Against all CAA teams, Holy Cross has never lost to Drexel (1-0), North Carolina-Wilmington (1-0) and Towson (1-0). Holy Cross has won the most games against Northeastern (13) and only holds a losing record against Old Dominion (0-1). The squad has never faced Delaware, George Mason, Georgia State, James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth or William and Mary.

PLAYING THE HUSKIES: The Crusaders look to break into the wins column against their second opponent who carries the Husky nickname Saturday. The team played the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies on Nov. 14, falling 117-37 in Storrs, Conn. There are a total of nine collegiate institutions that bear the Husky nickname. Of those nine, Holy Cross has played against three Husky opponents, Connecticut, Northeastern and Northern Illinois. The Huskies have taken the all-time series advantage over the Crusaders, winning 22 of 38 contests.

ROAD SERIES: Tuesday's game is the second game of a seven-game road series that started in Smithfield, R.I. against Bryant this past Sunday. After traveling to Boston, the Crusaders head south to Charlottesville, Va., competing in the Marriott Cavalier Classic hosted by Virginia from Dec. 28-29. The team then goes north to Hanover, N.H. on Jan. 2 to play Dartmouth and then wraps up non-conference action against UMass in Amherst, Mass., on Jan. 5. The seventh and final game in the road series sends the Crusaders to Easton, Pa., for their first Patriot League match-up against Lafayette, held on Jan. 8. On the season, Holy Cross stands at 1-3 when traveling and is averaging 48 point per road game. Home teams average 75.8 points and are knocking down 45.5 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 31.3 percent as the visitors.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Sophomore starting forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) is continuing to show off her full strength and versatility on all sides of the basketball court this season. Through the 10 games played, Lepley is averaging 10.2 points, a team-best 6.2 rebounds per game and is shooting 44.2 percent (42-for-95) from the floor. She also leads the team with 33 assists and ties for first with 18 steals. 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. Lepley has seven double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last four games (13 points against Central Connecticut, 10 points against Maine, 10 points against Boston College and 12 points against Bryant). She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in six out of the nine games as well. She has also led the team in points once (against Yale), in steals three times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks third in assists (3.3), fourth in steals (1.8), eighth in rebounds and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 28.2 minutes per game. 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. On the season, Smith is averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds per game and is shooting 33.3 percent from the floor (37 of 111). Twenty-nine of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, while 85 of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well. 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 also posted double-figures in five out of the last six games. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in four out of the 10 games played thus far, including the 14 points scored against Bryant the last time out. She has notched six double-digit scoring affairs in all (12 vs. UConn, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 14 vs. Harvard, 15 vs. Central Connecticut, 21 vs. Maine and 14 vs. Bryant). She has taken the reigns as the squad's top three-point shooter, sinking 29 treys on 85 tries (34.1 percent) so far this season. According to this week's rankings, Smith ranks 27th in the nation in three-pointers made per game (2.9). She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is also 13th in three-point field goal percentage and 11th in scoring average amidst league leaders and has two Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors under her belt (11/29 and 12/6). She is also within the top-10 in assists (seventh), steals (fourth) and minutes played (fifth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 31.4 minutes. Her 18 total steals also tie for the team-high.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Senior forward Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) continues to be one of the team's biggest offensive threats and defensive presences so far this season. Currently, Fremeau leads the Holy Cross squad with a 11.9 points per game average, adds 3.7 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (50-for-127 from the floor). She poured in a career-high 20 points in the team's 72-60 win over Quinnipiac on Nov. 17, finishing 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 has posted a total of six double-digit scoring outings this season (13 vs. Yale, 20 at Quinnipiac, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 15 vs. Harvard, 13 vs. Maine and 16 vs. Boston College). She has led or tied the team in scoring three times. Fremeau currently ranks 10th amongst Patriot League individuals with her 11.9 scoring average. She also averages 30.2 minutes per game, ranking 10th in the league and is shooting 39.4 percent from the floor (14th in league standings). Her 2.8 assists per game ranks fifth in the league as she has a total of 29 assists thus far. 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 10 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 270 of the team's 621 total points, are bringing down 123 out of 353 rebounds and have added 52 of the 162 assists and 42 of the 89 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.4 points, 2.0 rebounds per game and have made 87 of their 250 field goal attempts (34.8 percent).

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. After starting the last six games, Ward now averages 6.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and is shooting 38.8 percent from the floor (19-for-49) on the entire season. 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 now has four double-digit scoring outings in 10 games played (14 vs. Quinnipiac, 10 at Fordham, 11 vs. New Hampshire and 17 vs. Harvard). She is extremely calm and collected at the free throw line this season as well, as she has made 26 free throws in 27 attempts (96.3 percent) including a perfect 12-for-12 performance at Quinnipiac. Her free throw percentage is amidst the nation's best, as she ranks seventh amongst all NCAA leaders. She now ranks second amongst Patriot League leaders, with Lafayette's Lauren Jackson ranking first with a 96.8 free throw percentage. In all, Ward has led the squad in scoring twice (Fordham, Harvard) and has led or tied the team in assists four times (Harvard, Central Connecticut, Boston College and Bryant). She has a total of 25 assists this season, averaging 2.5 per game, which also ranks 12th amongst Patriot League leaders.

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 353 rebounds, including 126 offensive and 227 defensive boards. As a team, Holy Cross ranks fifth amongst Patriot League leaders with its total of 126 offensive boards. Lepley leads all rebounders with 62 rebounds (44 defensive) while the team as a whole has 46 rebounds. Opponents have tallied 388 rebounds, including 133 offensive and 255 defensive. The squad has been out-rebounded by Connecticut (48-16), Fordham (45-29), New Hampshire (39-36), Maine (33-32), Boston College (36-29) and Bryant (39-31). Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) leads the team with 18 offensive rebounds, an average of 1.8 per game. Her average is 13th-best amongst league players.  

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season. Currently, Ganser is averaging 5.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and is sinking 46.4 percent of her shots (13-for-28). She has played in all 10 games thus far, tying or leading the team in rebounding three times (8 vs. Fordham, 5 vs. Maine, 7 vs. Bryant) and has collected a season-high of eight rebounds three times this season against the Rams, New Hampshire and Harvard. She also tallied a season-best 10 points against Central Connecticut including seven points in the paint and her first career three-point shot. She followed with nine points against Maine, notching season-highs with three field goals made in five attempts. Because of her defensive efforts, Ganser now ranks second on the team with 51 total rebounds. She has also made her way up on the list of Patriot League bests, as she ranks 13th in rebounding average (5.1) and 11th in defensive rebounds (4.1 per-game).

STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: So far this season, a number of Holy Cross team and player performances have been at the top of the league's individual player and team game-highs. Meredith Ward's 12-for-12 free throw performance against Quinnipiac is an individual best, while Alex Smith's 14 three-point shot attempts against Maine are also a high. Lepley's nine field goals made against Yale rank second, as does Smith's five three-point field goals made against Central Connecticut and Maine. She has also tallied the second-highest number of steals (five against New Hampshire and Bryant). As a squad, the Crusaders have collected team-highs with 26 total assists versus Maine and 16 steals against New Hampshire. They rank second in conference team-highs with their 31 field goals made against Yale, a 50.9 field goal percentage versus Harvard and 28 free throws made against New Hampshire.

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 480-250 record as head coach, including a 4-5 record at the helm this season. Her ranks 28th on the active Division I win leaders list as well. 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. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 24 years as head coach. With sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt, Gibbons has cemented himself and the women's basketball program as one of the best in the East. The sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, Gibbons has enjoyed the longest tenure in the position. He has led the Holy Cross women's basketball program to more victories than any other coach, and is the winningest coach in Holy Cross Basketball history. With his 358th victory, he surpassed George Blaney (357 wins as head coach of the Holy Cross men's basketball program), who had hired him to be his assistant coach in 1981. Now with more than 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960.

CRUSADERS PICKED 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 10 games of action, the captains have put up 234 points, 107 rebounds and 69 assists.

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. The Crusaders also topped Quinnipiac on Nov. 17, taking a 3-2 edge in the all-time series. 

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.

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the second round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released this week. Currently, the Crusaders rank 33rd in assists per game (16.2), 96th in assist/turnover ratio (0.82) and 197th in scoring offense. Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 27th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) and 139th in three-point percentage (34.1). Lastly, Meredith Ward ranks seventh on the national scene with her 96.3 free throw percentage.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will play the Marriott Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia next. The tournament begins on Tuesday, Dec. 28 as the Crusaders take on East Tennessee State in the first round starting at 4:30 p.m. Host Virginia and North Carolina A&T will be playing at 7:00 p.m. as well. All games will be played at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.


Record: 4-5 Affiliation: Colonial Athletic Conference

HEAD COACH: Daynia La-Force Mann is in her fifth season as head coach of the Northeastern women's basketball team. She has accumulated a record of 71-93 while with the Huskies, including a 4-5 record so far this year. Introduced as the fifth head coach in the program's history on April 14, 2006, La-Force Mann has enjoyed a rapid and successful rise up the NCAA coaching ranks. Prior to coming to Northeastern, La-Force Mann spent a highly successful 2005-2006 season at New Haven, where she was named the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, as she guided the Chargers to the NYCAC regular season and tournament titles. Her Chargers finished the 2005-2006 season with a 17-3 conference record and a 24-7 overall record, and advanced to the Women's Division II NCAA Tournament.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Huskies stand at 4-5 so far this year, losing their first three games to Syracuse (72-69), Kent State (71-53) and Iowa (87-59). The team then won two straight against Northern Colorado (61-53) and Army (65-56) and is now 2-2 in their last four games, topping Boston University (67-55) and Vermont (55-46) and falling to Dartmouth (60-54) and Miami (OH) (77-61). They are also 1-2 when playing on their home hardwood so far this season. Sophomore forward Rachael Pecota leads the team with 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and has hit 35.0 percent (41 of 117) of her field goals and 80.0 percent (16 of 20) of her free throw attempts. Junior guard Kashaia Cannon has averaged 12.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while two other starters, sophomore guard Afreyea Tolbert and junior guard Jamie Conroy also average over 10 points per game (10.0 and 10.2 points respectively). Northeastern is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 13-18 and finishing with an eighth place finish in the CAA, going 7-11 against league foes.