Crusaders Reach For Clutch Road Win At Army Wednesday

Meredith Ward

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Game Day Quick Facts

The Teams: Holy Cross (8-15, 4-4 PL) vs. Army (11-11, 5-3 PL)
Date: February 9, 2011
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Christl Arena (5,043), West Point, N.Y.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Listen Here
Unofficial Live Statistics: http://www.goarmysports.com/
Army Live Video: http://www.goarmysports.com/
Patriot League All-Access: www.patriotleague.org/allaccess/
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 29-18
Last Meeting: Army 50, Holy Cross 47 (January 13, 2011, Worcester, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST ARMY: Wednesday's match-up will be the 48th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Army, with the Crusaders owning a 29-18 advantage over the Black Knights. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play. The Crusaders won the first meeting at the Hart Center, 67-57 on Jan. 23, 1991. The Crusaders went on to win the next four meetings, outscoring Army 255-221. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 29-18 record, as he suffered his first career loss against the Black Knights, 54-52, in an away game on Jan. 13, 1993. Christl Arena has been a tough venue for the Crusaders to play in, edging Army in the all-time road series 12-11. Army head coach Dave Magarity has been very successful against Holy Cross, collecting a 9-2 record in his five seasons at the helm. Army won the first four contests with Magarity as head coach before the Crusaders broke up the slide on Jan. 14, 2009, 57-41. Holy Cross also ended another four-game slide against the Black Knights on March 6, 2010 in the first round of the Patriot League Championship, topping Army 57-53 at the Hart Center. Army won the last meeting between the two teams in Worcester, topping the Crusaders 50-47.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After Saturday's victory loss to Lehigh, Holy Cross stands at 4-4 in league play, moving in to a third place tie with Lehigh. Holy Cross has never posted a 3-4 record over the first half of Patriot League play, dating back to the inaugural season in 1990-1991. Over the last 21 seasons, the team has competed in a total of 296 league match-ups, winning 231 and dropping 65 games total for a .780 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 possesses two unblemished Patriot League seasons, going 12-0 in 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 231-65 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 42-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 45-8 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 12 wins against Holy Cross as well.

ROAD WOES: Holy Cross will hit the road once again for a three-game stretch starting Wednesday, Feb. 9 against Army. Road trips have not been too kind to the Crusaders, as they are 3-7 when playing on the road this season after topping Colgate the last time out. Overall, the team is averaging 55.1 points per road game. Home teams average 72.2 points and are knocking down 43.7 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 34.1 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 Crusaders are also out-rebounded by an average of 8.8 rebounds when playing on the road.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who has played in 11 home match-ups so far, has two home games left, hosting American on Saturday, Feb. 19 and wrapping up the regular season home slate against Colgate on Wednesday, Feb. 23 against Colgate. The Crusaders are now 5-6 when playing on their home hardwood this season, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine, Bucknell and Lafayette, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Army, Navy and Lehigh. The Crusaders currently have a .774 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 333-111 advantage at home and has posted 29 winning records at home and just five losing seasons, including last year's 4-9 record. A total of forty-seven teams have never won at the Hart Center, including conference opponent, Colgate, who the Crusaders are 17-0 against. Combined, the Crusaders have won 156 of 197 meetings against this year's home opponents, including a 125-24 record against Patriot League foes (2-3 this season).

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 23 games played, Lepley is averaging 9.2 points, a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game. She has one of the best shooting percentages, 40.9 percent (85-for-208), amongst starters, which also ranks 10th amongst Patriot League leaders. She most recently recorded a sound offensive and defensive performance in the 83-46 win over Lafayette, posting 11 points and nine rebounds while tying her career high with two blocks to lead the team. 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 and were the most rebounds collected by a Crusader this season. She tied her career-high with nine made field goals against the Bulldogs as well. Lepley has recorded 10 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, 14 points against North Carolina A&T, 10 points vs. Navy and 11 points against Lafayette (2/5). She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in 11 out of the 23 games, including three of the last five games, highlighted by her 10 rebounds in the win over Colgate on Jan. 26. She has led the team in points twice, in steals five times and in assists three times. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks 11th in assists (2.4), 10th in steals (1.5), ninth in rebounding and 16th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 26.1 minutes per game after playing 21 minutes against Lafayette the last time out. 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 11.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 37.2 percent from the floor (83 of 223). Sixty-three of her field goals made have come as three-point shots, which now ties for third in the Holy Cross single season records list for three-pointers made in a season. One hundred-seventy of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, which ties for fourth in Holy Cross single season records. Smith returned to form in her last performance against Lafayette, reaching the 20-point mark for the third time this season after sinking seven of her 13 field goal attempts, including four three-pointers. She led the team in scoring while also dishing out five assists, winning the team's Winter Homecoming Game MVP award. Against Northeastern on Dec. 22, Smith tallied a season-high 22 points, also notching season-bests with eight field goals made, including six treys, which ranks third amongst the program's single-game records. Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in points in seven out of the 23 games played. She has notched 13 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, 11 vs. Bucknell, 20 vs. Lafayette). According to the Feb. 7 NCAA rankings, Smith sits at 20th in the nation in the three-pointers made per-game category (2.9). She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is eighth in three-point field goal percentage and 13th 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 70 in all. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (fourth), steals (seventh) and minutes played (sixth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 31.4 minutes per game.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: Whitney Fremeau 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 13.8 points per game average, adds 4.4 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (130-for-317 from the floor).Fremeau extended her double-figure scoring streak to 13 games after collecting 12 points and five rebounds in the win over Lafayette on Feb.5. She recorded a career-best 26 point outing against Lehigh on Jan. 29, also recording career-highs with nine field goals made in 19 attempts, including seven three-point shots made in nine tries. Her seven three-point shots in a single game rank second in Holy Cross' single game record list, tying Bethany O'Dell's seven three-pointers made against Western Illinois in 2008. After combining for 50 points from Jan. 26-29, Fremeau was awarded Patriot League Player of the Week honors, the first time a Crusader won the award since Briana McFadden earned the nod on Feb. 9, 2009. She has posted a total of 19 double-digit scoring outings this season. 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, 12 vs. Army, 15 vs. Bucknell, 12 vs. Navy, 12 at American, 24 at Colgate, 26 vs. Lehigh and 12 vs. Lafayette. She has also led or tied the team in scoring 11 times. She currently averages 16.5 points per game against Patriot League opponents, ranking first in that category. In all games, Fremeau ranks third amongst Patriot League individuals with her 13.8 scoring average. She also averages 30.3 minutes per game and is shooting 41.0 percent from the floor (ninth in the league). Her 2.4 assists per game ranks 10th in the league as she has a total of 56 assists. She has also led or tied the team-high in rebounding in four of the last nine games and posted a season-high nine rebounds against Lehigh on Jan. 29. In her 109 career games played, Fremeau has recorded 984 career points, 16 shy of becoming Holy Cross' 27th 1,000 point scorer, 430 rebounds and 202 assists.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 23 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 570 of the team's 1,403 total points, are bringing down 265 out of 816 rebounds and add 130 of the 361 assists and 83 of the 194 total steals. Together, the five are averaging 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while making 187 of their 533 field goal attempts (35.1 percent). In all, the freshman class has led the squad in scoring nine times and in rebounding eight times as Alex Smith led the team in scoring and Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) topped the squad in rebounds against Lafayette the last time out.

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 13 games and coming off the bench in 10, Ward averages 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 32.8 percent from the floor (42-for-128) on the season, almost doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. Against Lafayette the last time out, Ward scored seven points, going two of three from the field and two of three from the free throw line, and added six assists, tying her season-high. 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. Ward now has five double-digit scoring outings in 23 games played (14 vs. Quinnipiac, 10 at Fordham, 11 vs. New Hampshire, 17 vs. Harvard and 12 vs. East Tennessee State). She is extremely calm and collected at the free throw line this season, as she has made 54 free throws in 65 attempts (83.1 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. She also ranks second amongst Patriot League leaders in the free throw percentage category. 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 57 assists this season, averaging 2.5 per game, which ranks eighth amongst Patriot League leaders. In her 81 career games played, Ward has collected 340 points, 155 rebounds and 135 assists.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser is emerging as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season as she currently averages 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 23 games off the bench. She also shoots 37.5 percent (33-for-88) from the floor and averages 15.4 minutes played per game. She tallied her best defensive effort against Lafayette on Feb. 5, hitting new heights with 11 rebounds, a season and team-high. Ganser recorded her best offensive outing of the season in the win against Lafayette on Jan. 8, tallying season-highs with 15 points on five of nine shooting. She also ranks third on the team with her 4.2 rebounding average and has at least one rebound in the last 14 games. Ganser has a total of four double-digit outings thus far (10 vs. Central Connecticut, 12 vs. North Carolina A&T, 15 at Lafayette and 13 vs. Lehigh). The Needham, Mass. product is also one of the team's best free-throw shooters, sinking 55 of 75 free throw attempts (73.3 percent), ranking eighth 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 36 steals this season, tallying a career-high in steals made in a season. After tying the team-high with two steals against Lafayette the last time out, May now averages 1.6 steals per game, sixth highest amongst Patriot League performers. May also tied her career-high with seven assists against the Leopards, leading the team. She is also one of the team's top shot blockers, registering 11 blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and averages 0.5 blocks-per-game. Her 11 blocks are a career-high, besting her eight blocks from the 2009-2010 season. Through 23 games, May is averaging 4.2 points and 3.9 rebounds. She scored a career-high 12 points against Boston College on Dec. 8 and posted a season-best nine rebounds against Harvard on Nov. 28. May was a major factor in the win over Colgate on Jan. 26, scoring 11 points, recording eight rebounds and tying her career-high with five steals, leading the team in that category. In her 76 career games played, May has recorded 432 points, 292 rebounds and 143 assists.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 23 games, Holy Cross averages 15.7 assists per game (361 total) as Alex Smith leads the way with 70 assists, leading the team in the category in six of the last 10 games. The squad tied a season-high with 26 dishes against Lafayette, which they also did against Maine on Dec. 4. The 26 assists are the highest total assists made by a Patriot League team in conference play so far this season. The team also ranks third in assist/turnover ratio, averaging 15.7 assists to 19.0 turnovers (0.8 ratio). Amy Lepley, Whitney Fremeau and Alyssa May have all recorded seven assists, a single game-high for the Crusaders. In all, the Crusaders have recorded more assists than their opponents in 13 games.

BIG W: Saturday's win over Lafayette turned in to one of the best team performances put in by the Crusaders all season, and maybe in years. The squad hit a season-best 52.5 percent, making 31 field goals in 59 attempts. Not only did Holy Cross outscore Lafayette by 37 points, they brought down 20 more rebounds (50-30) and dished out 17 more assists (26-9). In all of the eight games played by any team in league competition, the Crusaders recorded the highest totals in field goals made, field goal percentage, rebounds and assists. The last time Holy Cross won by at least a 37-point margin was in 2006, when Holy Cross beat out the Leopards 78-39 at the Hart Center.

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 494-281 record as head coach (.637 winning percentage), including an 8-15 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 25 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, 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 23 games of action, the captains have put up 559 points, 260 rebounds and 158 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 Feb. 7. Currently, the Crusaders rank 34th in assists per game (15.7), 94th in assist/turnover ratio (0.83) and 212th in scoring offense (61.0). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 20th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) and 91st in three-point percentage (37.1). Lastly, Whitney Fremeau ranks 167th on the national scene with her 41.0 field goal percentage.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross continues its three-game stretch on the road, traveling to Bucknell next for a Saturday evening match-up on Jan. 12. The Crusaders visit the Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa. for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Bison.

SCOUTING ARMY:

11-11 (5-3 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH: Army's head coach Dave Magarity is in his 28th season as a collegiate head coach and his fifth season at Army. Magarity took the reins at West Point over the 2006-2007 season and owns a 83-59 record with the Black Knights, including his 11-11 record in the 2010-2011 season. Magarity is also just four wins shy of his 400th career victory as his career record stands at 396-393.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's Army team enters Wednesday's game with an 11-11 record, 5-3 in the Patriot League. The team won four straight league contests against Colgate (54-40), Holy Cross (50-47), Lehigh (54-52) and American (64-50) before dropping three decisions to Navy (55-46), Lafayette (54-42) and Bucknell (48-48) in the first round of Patriot League action. The Black Knights opened the second half of league play with a win over Colgate (55-54) and sit in a tie for second place with American. Army is extremely tough on its home hardwood, losing just two games (Northeastern and Navy) and winning nine. The team returns 11 letterwinners, including all five starters from last season. Senior forward Erin Anthony leads the team offensively and defensively with 14.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.3 percent (137 of 278) from the floor. Fellow senior forward Laura Baranek follows with 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Army finished 11-18 overall in 2009-2010, including a 5-9 mark in Patriot League contests.