Crusaders Look To Hold Serve At Home Against Bucknell On Saturday

Amy Lepley

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-12, 1-1 PL) vs. Bucknell (3-11, 0-2 PL)
Date: January 15, 2010
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Listen here
Unofficial Live Statistics:
http://livestats.prestosports.com/holycross/
Bucknell Radio: Sports Juice, www.sportsjuice.com; Ryan Unger, play-by-play
Patriot League All-Access: www.patriotleague.org/allaccess/

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 36-12
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 65, Bucknell 60 (Feb. 13, 2010 Worcester, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST BUCKNELL: Saturday's match-up will be the 49th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Bucknell, with the Crusaders owning a 36-12 advantage over the Bison. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play (1990-1991), with the Crusaders earning two back-to-back victories, a 78-59 road win and then a 94-68 tally at the Hart Center. Holy Cross went on to take eight straight match-ups from Jan. 30, 1993 until Jan. 31, 1996, the longest stretch of wins against Bucknell. Since 2000, Holy Cross has lost just eight games in 28 match-ups. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 36-12 record while Bucknell head coach Kathy Fedorjaka holds a 9-22 record against the Crusaders since taking over the reins of the women's basketball program 14 years ago. Holy Cross holds a 21-4 advantage over the Bison when playing at the Hart Center, winning the last two meetings. The teams have also met a total of eight times in the post-season, with Holy Cross winning five games and losing three. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After Wednesday's loss against Army, Holy Cross stands at 1-1 in league play. The last time Holy Cross split its first two games of league competition was during the 2005-2006 season, topping Lafayette (78-39) before falling to Army (59-56). Over the last 21 seasons, the team has competed in a total of 290 league match-ups, winning 228 and dropping 62 games total for a .786 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. The squad also recorded its first losing season in Patriot League play in 2009-2010, going 5-9. Holy Cross boasts two unblemished Patriot League seasons, going 12-0 in the inaugural season, 1990-1991, and doing it again in 1996-1997. Head coach Bill Gibbons has been along for the entire ride and is responsible for the 228-62 league record. In all, 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 44-8 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 BISON: There are a total of eight schools in collegiate athletics that bear the Bison nickname. Bucknell is the only school with the Bison mascot that appears on the Crusaders schedule this season. Out of the eight total schools, Holy Cross has only faced the Bison of Bucknell and Howard. The other programs include Bethany, Gaulledet, Harding, Nichols, North Dakota State and Oklahoma Baptist. Overall, the Crusaders have compiled a 37-13 record against Bison programs. 

CRUSADERS TO HOLD POST-GAME AUTOGRAPH SESSION: On Saturday, the Holy Cross women's basketball program will hold its annual post-game autograph session. Any fan attending the game will have the chance to meet the players and get their autographs after the Bucknell game. The session will be held 10 minutes after the game has ended. 

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who has played in seven home match-ups so far, returned to the Hart Center on Jan. 13 against Army for three games after spending seven contests on the road from Dec. 8 through Jan. 13. The Crusaders are now 3-4 when playing on their home hardwood this season, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard and Maine, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College and Army the last time out. The Crusaders currently have a .777 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program as the 2010-2011 season marks the 36th season of women's basketball competition at the Hart Center. The program holds an all-time 328-106 advantage at home and has posted 29 winning records at home and just five losing seasons, including last year's 4-9 record. Combined, the Crusaders have won 154 of 193 meetings against this year's home opponents, including a 123-22 record against Patriot League foes.

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 17 games played, Lepley is averaging 9.5 points, a team-best 5.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 40.9 percent (65-for-159) from the floor. 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; 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 eight out of the 17 games, including seven rebounds against Army the last time out. She has led the team in points twice (against Yale and North Carolina A&T), in steals four times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks seventh in assists (2.6), seventh in steals (1.6), 11th in rebounding and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 26.9 minutes per game after playing 24 minutes in the last game against Army. 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 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 35.5 percent from the floor (66 of 186). Fifty of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, which is three away from breaking into the top-10 of the Holy Cross single season record for three-pointers made in a season. One hundred-forty one of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, as she is sinking 35.5 percent of her three-point tries. Against Army the last time out, Smith notched five points, going two-of-11 from the field and leading the team with five assists. 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 this season. 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 six of the last eight games. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in six out of the 17 games played thus far. She has notched 11 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, 10 at Dartmouth, 17 at Lafayette). According to the Jan. 9 rankings, Smith sits at 16th 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 12th in three-point field goal percentage and 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, bringing down a season-high eight rebounds, while also collecting six steals, another season-high. She is now the team-leader in assists, collecting 53 in all. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (third), steals (fifth) and minutes played (sixth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 31.8 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 12.8 points per game average, adds 4.2 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (91-for-232 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. Fremeau has attempted a season-high of 17 field goal attempts in a total of three games (Quinnipiac, North Carolina A&T and Dartmouth) and has attempted at least 10 shots in 15 of the 17 games played. She tied her career-high with eight field goals made against Lafayette on Jan. 8, scoring 19 points to lead the team. She has posted a total of 12 double-digit scoring outings this season, including the last seven 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, 13 at Massachusetts, 19 at Lafayette and 12 against Army. She has led or tied the team in scoring six times and has averaged 15.5 points per game against Patriot League opponents thus far. Fremeau currently ranks sixth amongst Patriot League individuals with her 12.8 scoring average. She also averages 30.1 minutes per game (eighth in the league) and is shooting 39.2 percent from the floor (11th in the league). Her 2.8 assists per game ranks seventh in the league as she has a total of 45 assists thus far. She has also led or tied the team-high in rebounding the last three games, averaging 6.3 boards after posting a season-high seven rebounds against Army on Jan. 13. In her 103 career games played, Fremeau has recorded 883 points, 400 rebounds and 190 assists.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 17 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 441 of the team's 1,042 total points, are bringing down 198 out of 598 rebounds and have added 92 of the 267 assists and 71 of the 152 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.2 points, 2.3 rebounds per game and have made 145 of their 420 field goal attempts (34.5 percent). Freshman Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) led the team in scoring for the first time against Army, notching a season-high 15 points. In all, the freshman class has led the squad in scoring eight times.

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 10 games and coming off the bench in seven, Ward averages 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 33.0 percent from the floor (34-for-103) on the season, doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Against Army the last time out, Ward recorded six points, five rebounds and made her second block of the 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 five double-digit scoring outings in 17 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 44 free throws in 48 attempts (91.7 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 fourth amongst all NCAA leaders as of Jan. 9. 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 42 assists this season, averaging 2.5 per game, which also ranks 10th amongst Patriot League leaders. In her 75 career games played, Ward has collected 312 points, 140 rebounds and 120 assists.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season as currently averages 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17 games off the bench. She also shoots 40.7 percent (24-for-59) from the floor and averages 15.8 minutes played per game. She recorded her best offensive outing of the season in the big win against Lafayette, tallying season-highs with 15 points on five of nine shooting. She also ranks second on the team with her 4.4 rebounding average. Ganser has a total of three double-digit outings thus far (10 vs. Central Connecticut, 12 vs. North Carolina A&T and 15 at Lafayette) and has at least one rebound in the last eight games. She brought down a season-best eight rebounds three times against Fordham, New Hampshire and Harvard. The Needham, Mass. product is also one of the team's best free-throw shooters, sinking 45 of 61 free throw attempts (73.8 percent), ranking ninth amongst league individuals.  

DEFENSE MAY'S WAY: Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), who is listed as a 6-0 forward/guard, leads the team with 10 blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and ranks 11th amongst Patriot League players with 0.6 blocks-per-game. Her 10 blocks are a career-high, besting her eight blocks from the 2009-2010 season as she has recorded a block in seven games this season. A senior captain, May is also averaging 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. She scored a career-high 12 points against Boston College on Dec. 8. She is quick with her hands too, as she averages 1.5 steals per game (ninth amongst top league performers), collecting a total of 26 steals thus far. In her 70 career games played, May has recorded 409 points, 264 rebounds and 129 assists.

I'LL TAKE THAT: The Holy Cross squad averages 8.9 steals per game through 17 games this season. That average ranks first amongst Patriot League teams as they have totaled 152 steals in all. American comes in second, averaging 0.9 less (8.2 per game). Alex Smith is the team's top thief, recording 29 steals in all. She notched a single game-high with six steals against Dartmouth. The team as a whole topped out with 16 steals against New Hampshire on Nov. 23 and has made more steals against their opponents in six games so far.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross also ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 17 games, Holy Cross averages 15.7 assists per game (267 total) as Alex Smith leads the way with 53 assists, leading the team in the category over the last four games. The team ranks second in assist/turnover ratio, averaging 15.7 assists to 19.3 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 481-258 record as head coach (.651 winning percentage), including a 5-12 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 Meredith 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. 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 17 games of action, the captains have put up 406 points, 187 rebounds and 118 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. 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. 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. 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 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.

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the sixth round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on Jan. 9. Currently, the Crusaders rank 36th in assists per game (16.0), 83rd in assist/turnover ratio (0.84) and 201st in scoring offense (62.2). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 16th in three-point shots made per game (3.1) and 110th in three-point percentage (36.8). Lastly, Meredith Ward ranks fourth on the national scene with her 93.3 free throw percentage.

NEXTUP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross rounds out its three-game home stand against Patriot League opponent Navy on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The Midshipmen visit Worcester for a 7:00 p.m. game at the Hart Center after hosting Lafayette on Saturday, Jan. 15. Navy is currently 9-7 on the season, going 2-0 in league play so far.

SCOUTING BUCKNELL:

3-11 (0-2 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH: Bucknell's head coach Kathy Fedorjaka is in her 14th season at the helm of the Bucknell women's basketball team. Fedorjaka has a 199-190 record, including the 3-11 record this season, with the Orange and Blue, good for a .512 winning percentage. That total has long put her at the top of the list for most program victories. Number two on that list is Fedorjaka's predecessor, Julienne Simpson, with a six-year mark of 65-98. Last year, Fedorjaka surpassed the century mark in Patriot League wins with her 60-47 win over Colgate. She entered 2010-11 with a career record of 101-73 in the league and now stands at 101-75 after falling in the first two league match-ups of 2010-2011.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's Bucknell team enters Saturday's game with a 3-11 record, 0-2 in the Patriot League. The team lost its two conference games to Navy (62-56) and most recently American (60-55 (OT)) after going 3-9 in non-conference play. They picked up wins against Rider (53-48), Niagara (69-62) and Cornell (54-45). The Bison have found trouble on the road, as they are 0-7 in away contests. Bucknell is also on a three-game losing streak heading into Saturday's contest, falling to Yale, Navy and American. The team returns nine letterwinners, including three starters from last season. Freshman guard Shelby Romine leads the team and the league offensively with 15.1 points per game, while shooting 38.9 percent (77 of 198) from the floor. Senior forward Joyce Novacek leads the team defensively with 8.6 rebounds per game, second highest amongst league players. She also adds 8.1 points per game. Bucknell finished 7-21 overall in 2009-2010, including a 3-11 mark in Patriot League contests, finishing in eighth place.