Women's Basketball Regroups For League Play Starting Saturday At Lafayette

Kelly Hamner

Click here for game notes in pdf format

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-11, 0-0 PL) vs. Lafayette (7-8, 0-0 PL)
Date: January 8, 2010
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Kirby Sports Center (3,500), Easton, Pa.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, Listen here
Unofficial Live Statistics: Click here
Lafayette Television: Lafayette Sports Network: RCN-4, RCN-8 and WBPH-60; Gary Laubach (play-by-play), John Leone (color)

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 43-8
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 50, Lafayette 47 (February 6, 2010, Easton, Pa.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST LAFAYETTE: Saturday's match-up marks the 52nd meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Lafayette, with the Crusaders owning a 43-8 advantage over the Leopards. The teams first met as non-Patriot League opponents during the 1986-1987 season at the Rhode Island Tournament. It was in that game that head coach Bill Gibbons earned his first of 43 victories against the Leopards, winning by a score of 73-67. Both teams became members of the Patriot League during the 1990-1991 season and have met at least two times annually since then. Holy Cross took the first Patriot League win over Lafayette, 92-68, on Jan. 10, 1991. The Crusaders earned 11 consecutive victories over the Leopards from the 1992-1993 season until March 2, 1997, when the Leopards upset the No.1-seeded Holy Cross in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament, 76-60. Holy Cross then went on to win 19 successive contests from 1999-2000 until the 2006-2007 season. The Leopards clawed back for two back-to-back series victories on Feb. 4, 2006 and Jan. 6, 2007. Holy Cross held the upper hand until the Jan. 9, 2010 game, having collected a six-game win streak dating back to Feb. 3, 2007. The Leopards, who had never won at the Hart Center in 21 straight contests, topped the Crusaders by the final score of 43-39. The Crusaders rallied back, however, taking a road win from the Leopards, 50-47, the last time out. When playing in Easton, Holy Cross has won 17 contests and lost four. This will also be the 24th time Lafayette's first-year head coach Dianne Nolan has faced the Crusaders, as she is 9-15 against Holy Cross in her Fairfield coaching days.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Over the last 21 seasons, the team has competed in a total of 288 league match-ups, winning 227 and dropping 61 games total for a .778 winning percentage. 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. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 227-61 league record. Holy Cross has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. 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.

PLAYING THE LEOPARDS: There are only three colleges with the nickname Leopards. Wentworth Institute in Boston, Mass. and LaVerne in LaVerne, Calif. are the two other schools that bear the Leopards mascot. Lafayette is the only school Holy Cross has faced out of the three with a Leopards nickname. All together, the Crusaders hold a 43-8 record against a Leopards squad.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: The game against Lafayette will be broadcast on the local Lafayette Sports Network television station and marks the fourth time this season a Holy Cross game has been televised. Currently, the Crusaders stand with a record of 0-3 in televised games, falling to Connecticut (CPTV), Boston College (WCTR-TV3) and Massachusetts (CBS 3 Now). All Patriot League games are available for viewing over the internet through Patriot League All-Access. The package, done in association with CBS College Sports Online, is available for a monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Patriot League All-Access, visit "www.patriotleague.org".

ROADSERIES: Saturday's game is the final piece of a seven-game road series that started in Smithfield, R.I. against Bryant on Dec. 19. After falling to the Bulldogs and Northeastern, dropping both decisions in the Cavalier Classic, losing to Dartmouth and falling to Massachusetts the last time out, the squad travels to Easton, Pa. for its first Patriot League competition and last game of the road set against Lafayette. On the season, Holy Cross stands at 1-8 when traveling and is averaging 52.0 points per road game. Home teams have averaged 74.3 points and are knocking down 44.8 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders have shot 31.9 percent as the visitors. On a neutral floor, as in the Cavalier Classic, Holy Cross posted 65.0 points per game and allowed an average of 82.5 points to be scored. The squad has also been outrebounded on the road by an average of 9.3 rebounds per game.

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 15 games played, Lepley is averaging 10.1 points, a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 42.1 percent (61-for-145) from the floor. She also leads the team with 44 assists and ranks second on the team with 24 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 recorded nine double-digit scoring outings this season, including two in the last five games. Her double-digit performances include; 13 points against Central Connecticut, 10 points against Maine, 10 points against Boston College, 12 points against Bryant, 13 points against East Tennessee State and 14 points against North Carolina A&T. She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in seven out of the 13 games as well. She has also led the team in points twice (against Yale and North Carolina A&T), in steals three times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks third in assists (2.9), seventh in steals (1.6), 11th in rebounding and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 27.6 minutes per game after playing 20 minutes in the last game against Massachusetts, where she also scored nine points and nabbed three rebounds. 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 ranks second on the team with 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 35.4 percent from the floor (58 of 164). Forty-four of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, which is nine away from breaking into the top-10 of the Holy Cross single season record for three-pointers made in a season. One hundred-twenty five of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, as she is sinking 35.2 percent of her three-point tries. Smith reached new heights in the game against Northeastern, as she poured in a season-best 22 points, the most points a Holy Cross player has put up so far this year. She also marked season-bests with eight field goals made, including six treys, which ranks third amongst the program's single-game records. She has also posted double-figures in the four of the last five games as she collected just two points in the loss against Massachusetts the last time out. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in six out of the 15 games played thus far. She has notched 10 double-digit scoring affairs in all (12 vs. UConn, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 14 vs. Harvard, 15 vs. Central Connecticut, 21 vs. Maine, 14 vs. Bryant, 22 vs. Northeastern, 16 vs. East Tennessee State, 10 vs. North Carolina A&T and 10 at Dartmouth). According to this week's rankings, Smith ranks 13th in the nation in three-pointers made per game, which is now 2.9. She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is also 12th in three-point field goal percentage and 14th in scoring average amidst league leaders. She also has two Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors under her belt (11/29 and 12/6), was named AT&T Crusader of the Week on Dec. 20 and named to the Cavalier Classic's All-Tournament Team. Smith showed off her versatility against Dartmouth as she led the team in rebounding for the first time this season, marking a season-high, while also collecting six steals, another season-high. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (fifth), steals (fourth) and minutes played (fifth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 32.0 minutes. Her 29 total steals are a 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 team with a 12.4 points per game average, adds 3.9 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (78-for-201 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. Fremeau has attempted a season-high of 17 field goal attempts in a total of three games, making five against North Carolina A&T and six against Dartmouth. She has posted a total of 10 double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last five games. Her double-digit outings comprise of; 13 vs. Yale, 20 at Quinnipiac, 16 vs. New Hampshire, 15 vs. Harvard, 13 vs. Maine, 16 vs. Boston College, 19 vs. Northeastern, 10 vs. East Tennessee State, 10 vs. North Carolina A&T, 15 at Dartmouth and 13 at Massachusetts. She has led or tied the team in scoring five times after leading the team with 15 points against the Big Green and 13 against the Minutewomen. Fremeau currently ranks seventh amongst Patriot League individuals with her 12.4 scoring average after combining for 48 points in the last three games, an average of 16 points per game. She also averages 30.1 minutes per game (ninth in the league) and is shooting 38.8 percent from the floor (13th in the league). Her 2.8 assists per game ranks sixth in the league as she has a total of 42 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 15 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 379 of the team's 923 total points, are bringing down 178 out of 524 rebounds and have added 80 of the 242 assists and 67 of the 139 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds per game and have made 123 of their 368 field goal attempts (33.4 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. Ward is now the team's third starting guard, averaging 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 34.1 percent from the floor (30-for-88) on the season, doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. 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 five double-digit scoring outings in 15 games played (14 vs. Quinnipiac, 10 at Fordham, 11 vs. New Hampshire, 17 vs. Harvard and 12 vs. East Tennessee State). In the first day of action at the Cavalier Classic, Ward attempted a season and career-high with 12 field goal attempts against East Tennessee State, making four of them. She is extremely calm and collected at the free throw line this season, as she has made 39 free throws in 41 attempts (95.1 percent) including a perfect 12-for-12 performance at Quinnipiac. The 12 free throws attempted and made set a new single-game record for the program. Her free throw percentage is amidst the nation's best, as she ranks fifth amongst all NCAA leaders as of Jan. 2. She also ranks first amongst Patriot League leaders. In all, Ward has led the squad in scoring twice (Fordham, Harvard) and has led or tied the team in assists six times (Harvard, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Bryant, Northeastern and North Carolina A&T). She has a total of 39 assists this season, averaging 2.6 per game, which also ranks 10th amongst Patriot League leaders.

DEFENSE MAY'S WAY: Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), who is listed as a 6-0 forward/guard, leads the team with 25 offensive rebounds and eight blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and ranks 14th amongst Patriot League players with 0.5 blocks-per-game. She tops the team with eight blocks on the season, which ties her career-high, as she now has 20 blocks in her career. A starting senior, May is also averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds, fourth-most on the team. She scored a career-high 12 points against Boston College on Dec. 8 and has also recorded a career-high two three-point shots made in seven contests this season. She is quick with her hands too as she averages 1.5 steals per game (10th amongst top league performers), collecting a total of 22 steals thus far.

I'LL TAKE THAT: The Holy Cross squad averages 9.3 steals per game through 15 games this season. That average ranks first amongst Patriot League teams as they have totaled 139 steals in all. Lehigh comes in second, averaging 8.3 steals. Alex Smith is the team's top thief, recording 29 steals in all after notching a single game-high with six steals against Dartmouth. The team topped out with 16 steals against New Hampshire on Nov. 23.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross also ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 15 games, Holy Cross averages 16.1 assists per game (242 total) as Amy Lepley leads the way with 44 assists. The squad's assist/turnover ratio is a league-best, as the team averages 16.1 assists to 19.5 turnovers (0.8 ratio). The team recorded a season-best 26 assists versus Maine on Dec. 4 and also had 24 assists against Harvard on Nov. 28. Amy Lepley and Whitney Fremeau have both recorded seven assists, a single game-high for the Crusaders. Lepely recorded seven assists against New Hampshire while Fremeau recorded her seven in the season-opener against Yale.

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 480-257 record as head coach (.651 winning percentage), including a 4-11 record at the helm this season. He 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: Whitney Fremeau, Alyssa May and MeredithWard 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 15 games of action, the captains have put up 361 points, 160 rebounds and 108 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.

RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES: Fordham, a former Patriot League foe, Massachusetts, an in-state rival, and Quinnipiac reentered 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 now faced off 17 times in program history as the Minutewomen took a 9-8 edge in the all-time series after the Jan. 5 game. The Crusaders also topped Quinnipiac on Nov. 17, taking a 3-2 edge in the all-time series. 

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the third round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Jan. 2. Currently, the Crusaders rank 35th in assists per game (16.4), 90th in assist/turnover ratio (0.84) and 197th in scoring offense (62.4). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 13th in three-point shots made per game (3.1) and 102nd in three-point percentage (36.5). Lastly, Meredith Ward ranks fifth on the national scene with her 94.9 free throw percentage.

NEXTUP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross begins a three-game homestand against Patriot League opponents Army, Bucknell and Navy on Jan. 12. The Black Knights visit Worcester first on the 12th, with game time set for 7:00 p.m. The contest will serve as the 23rd meeting between the two on the Hart Center hardwood and 47th meeting all-time.

SCOUTING LAFAYETTE:
7-8 (0-0 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH : Dianne Nolan became the fifth head coach in Lafayette women's basketball history on April 20, 2010. Nolan joins the Leopards following a three-year stint at Yale University and 28 years as head coach at Fairfield. Her career record in 33 seasons at St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairfield is 517-416, which ranks her 22nd in victories among active Division I head coaches entering the 2010-11 campaign. Nolan spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Yale University, including her final campaign in 2009-10 as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Leopards stand at 7-8 so far this year and are looking for their second-consecutive win after topping Columbia (64-63) the last time out. The squad went 2-2 to begin the season, topping Bryant (84-80 (OT)) and St. Francis (N.Y.) (74-52) and losing to Long Island (64-59) and Liberty (64-52). The squad then lost three straight against Monmouth (68-54), Fairfield (52-39) and St. Bonaventure (72-63) only to bounce back for three straight victories over Fairleigh Dickinson (51-37), Manhattan (53-50) and La Salle (60-51). In its last five games, Lafayette has won against Columbia and Quinnipiac (56-54) and fell to Princeton (90-58), St. Joseph's (75-40) and Penn (59-52). The Leopards also stand at 4-2 in home games this season. Senior forward LaKeisha Wright leads the team with 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while hitting 39.9 percent (77 of 193) of her field goals and 63.8 percent (30 of 47) of her free throws. Fellow senior guard Lauren Jackson follows with an average of 8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Lafayette is coming off a 2009-2010 season in which it posted an overall record of 6-23, placing seventh in the Patriot League with a 4-10 mark in league games.