February 24, 2011

Crusaders Finish Regular Season With Tournament Implications Game At Lehigh

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (10-18, 6-7 PL) vs. Lehigh (19-9, 9-4 PL)
Date: February 26, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Stabler Arena (5,600), Bethlehem, Pa.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Listen here
Unofficial Live Statistics: www.lehighsports.com
Lehigh Television: Service Electric Sports; Mike Zambelli and Jim Willis
Lehigh Radio: ESPN Radio 1230/1320; Matt Markus, play-by-play
Patriot League All-Access: www.patriotleague.org/allaccess/

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 37-12
Last Meeting: Lehigh 77, Holy Cross 67 (January 29, 2011, Worcester, Mass.)

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST LEHIGH: Saturday's match-up will be the 50th meeting between Holy Cross and Lehigh with the Crusaders owning a 37-12 advantage over the Mountain Hawks. The teams first met in Holy Cross' inaugural season of Patriot League play (1990-1991), earning two back-to-back victories, a 75-55 home victory and then an 87-56 tally on the road. After compiling six consecutive wins against Lehigh from Feb. 1, 1992 until Jan. 15, 1994, the Crusaders were handed their first loss, falling 77-74 in Bethlehem, Pa. on Feb. 9, 1994. Holy Cross avenged the loss with 18 back-to-back wins over the Mountain Hawks, including a 94-68 win in the Patriot League Tournament championship game held at the Hart Center on March 8, 2001. Holy Cross went 11-5 from Jan. 19, 2002 until March 9, 2008, as Lehigh has won the last six meetings dating back to that 2007-2008 season. Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 37-12 record while the Mountain Hawks head coach, Sue Troyan, is 11-25 against the Crusaders. The Crusaders look to steal one from Lehigh at Stabler Arena, a place where Lehigh has taken three out of the last four match-ups, including the last two games. Holy Cross owns the all-time series edge in Bethlehem, 14-6.

PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT BREAKDOWN: While the No. 7 and No. 8 spots in the Patriot League Tournament have been established, with Lafayette competing as the No. 7 seed and Colgate the No. 8 seed, the top six spots will be determined by Saturday's regular season finales. With Army's win over Lafayette on Wednesday, the Crusaders are certain to finish as either the No. 5 or No. 6 team. If Bucknell loses to Army Saturday afternoon, Holy Cross would take hold of the fifth seed regardless of how it fares in the evening at Lehigh. If the Crusaders lost, they would finish tied at 6-8 with Bucknell, at which point the tie would be broken by the latest College Basketball News RPI ratings on Sunday. Heading into the weekend, Holy Cross is No. 256 while Bucknell is 281. If Bucknell defeats Army, Holy Cross would need to defeat Lehigh to create a three-way tie at 7-7 with the Bison and Black Knights. The Crusaders would finish as the No. 5 seed because of the three-way tiebreaker.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After Wednesday's 18th-consecutive win over Colgate at the Hart Center, Holy Cross stands at 6-7 in league play. American, Lehigh and Navy moved into a three-way tie for the best record in the league on Wednesday, all collecting 9-4 records. Army stands alone in third place, beating Lafayette for a 7-6 league record. Over the last 21 seasons, the Crusaders have competed in a total of 301 league match-ups, winning 233 and dropping 68 games total for a .774 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 and will need one more win to avoid another losing record in Patriot League play this season. 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 233-68 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 43-3 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 25 of the 68 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 12 wins against Holy Cross as well.

CRUSADERS ON TELEVISION: The game against Lehigh will be broadcast on the Lehigh-Valley Service Electric television station and marks the fifth time this season a Holy Cross game has been televised. Currently, the Crusaders stand with a record of 1-3 in televised games, falling to Connecticut (CPTV), Boston College (WCTR-TV3) and Massachusetts (CBS 3 Now) while topping Lafayette (LSN). 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".

ROADWOES: Holy Cross finishes the regular season on the road with a rematch against reigning Patriot League champion, Lehigh on Saturday. In all, Holy Cross is 4-9 when playing on the road this season, matching the 2007-2008 squads' road record. Since 2000, the Crusaders have posted just three losing season records on the road, including the last three seasons. This year's Holy Cross team averages 56.0 points per road game. Home teams average 70.2 points and are knocking down 43.4 percent of their baskets, while the Crusaders shoot 34.6 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 eight rebounds when playing on the road as Navy out-rebounded the Crusaders 42-33 in the last road contest.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who wraps up the regular season with 13 home match-ups, finish the regular season at 6-7 when playing on their home hardwood. The team won against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine, Bucknell, Lafayette and Colgate, but fell to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Army, Navy, Lehigh and American. The Crusaders now have a .772 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 334-112 advantage at home and has posted 29 winning records at home and just six losing seasons, including last year's 4-9 record and this year's 6-7 record. A total of 47 teams have never won at the Hart Center, including conference opponent, Colgate, who the Crusaders are 18-0 against after Wednesday's victory. Combined, the Crusaders have won 157 of 199 meetings against this year's home opponents, including a 126-25 record against Patriot League foes (3-4 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 28 games played, Lepley is averaging 9.8 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game. She has the second-best shooting percentage, 41.7 percent (108-for-259), amongst starters, also ranking ninth amongst Patriot League leaders. Lepley was just one rebound shy of her third double-double of the season in the team's last contest, scoring 14 points and bringing down a team-high nine rebounds. She put together a career-best 22 point outing this season at Navy, going eight-of-14 from the field. She has also recorded two double-doubles this season, an 18-point, 11-rebound outing against Yale and a 13-point, 12-rebound effort against Quinnipiac. Her 12 rebounds against Quinnipiac were a career-high and were the most rebounds collected by a Crusader this season. She notched a season-high nine made field goals against the Bulldogs. In all, Lepley has recorded 13 double-digit scoring outings, including the last three games. Her double-figure games include; 13 points at Central Connecticut, 10 points vs. Maine, 10 points vs. Boston College, 12 points at Bryant, 13 points vs. East Tennessee State, 14 points vs. North Carolina A&T, 10 points vs. Navy, 11 points vs. Lafayette, 22 points at Navy, 11 points vs. American and 14 points vs. Colgate. She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in 12 out of the 28 games, including double-figure rebounding in three games. Amongst Patriot League leaders, Lepley ranks 14th in assists (2.1), 12th in steals (1.4), 10th in rebounding and 15th in scoring. She has also played in an average of 26.7 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. She also finished the season with a 44.2 field goal percentage, a team-high.

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, adds 3.6 rebounds per game and shoots 38.2 percent from the floor (105 of 275). Eighty of her field goals made (76 percent) have come as three-point shots, which now ranks second in the Holy Cross single season records list for three-pointers made. She is seven three-point field goals made off the record Bethany O'Dell set in 2006-2007. Two hundred-five of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, which ranks second in the Holy Cross single season records, one shy of tying the record. In the last contest, Smith scored in double-figures for the fifth time in six games, finishing with 11 points after making three of her eight three-pointer attempts. She has reached the 20-point mark three times this season, including a season-high 22 points against Northeastern, where she also notched season-bests with eight field goals made. She hit six treys in that game, ranking third amongst the program's single-game records. Through 28 games, Smith has either led or tied for the team-high in points nine times. She has notched 16 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, 18 at Army, 16 vs. American and 11 vs. Colgate). According to the Feb. 21 NCAA rankings, Smith remains at 12th in the nation in the three-pointers made per-game category (3.0). She is first amongst league leaders in that category as well. She is sixth in three-point field goal percentage (39.0) and 11th in scoring average amidst league leaders. She now has five Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors under her belt after earning the award in the last three weeks (11/29, 12/6, 2/7, 2/14, 2/21). She won the team's Winter Homecoming Game MVP honor and was named to the Cavalier Classic's All-Tournament Team. She is the team-leader in assists, collecting 93 in all after tallying a season-high seven assists against Colgate on Feb. 23. In the league, she ranks within the top-10 in assists (fourth), steals (ninth) and minutes played (sixth). In those categories, Smith is averaging 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 31.9 minutes per game.

FREMEAU BREAKS LOOSE: SeniorWhitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) continues to be one of the team's biggest offensive threats and defensive presences so far this season, staying at No. 21 in the team's all-time leading scorers list after scoring 11 points against Colgate, bringing her career-points total to 1,065. Currently, Fremeau leads the team with a 14.3 points per game average, adds 4.4 rebounds per game and is making and taking the team's largest number of shots (162-for-388 from the floor). Fremeau extended her double-figure scoring streak to 18 games on Wednesday, hitting four field goals in 10 attempts and making three free throws. She is one point shy of hitting the 400-point mark this season and recorded a career-high 26 point outing against Lehigh on Jan. 29, 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. She has posted a total of 23 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, 12 vs. Lafayette and 17 at Army, 21 at Bucknell, 19 at Navy, 13 vs. American and 11 vs. Colgate. She has also led or tied the team in scoring 12 times. She currently averages 16.4 points per game against Patriot League opponents, ranking first in that category. In all games, Fremeau ranks second amongst Patriot League individuals with her 14.3 scoring average. She also averages 31.2 minutes per game (eighth in the league) and is shooting 41.8 percent from the floor (eighth in the league). She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in five games and posted a season-high nine rebounds against Lehigh on Jan. 29. She was also awarded Patriot League Player of the Week honors on Jan. 31, the first of her career. In her 113 career games played, Fremeau adds 451 rebounds and 213 assists to her 1,065 career points.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 28 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 697 of the team's 1,718 total points, are bringing down 126 out of 993 rebounds, add 172 of the 437 assists and 92 of the 230 total steals. Together, the five are averaging five points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while making 229 of their 649 field goal attempts (35.3 percent). In all, the freshman class has led the squad in scoring 12 times and in rebounding nine times. Against Colgate on Feb. 23, the freshman collected a total 41 points and made up three of the five players that finished in double-figures.

MALONE MAKES IT HAPPEN: Freshman Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) is an added spark to the starting lineup for the Crusaders. Malone has earned 15 starts in the Crusaders' 28 total games, including the last six contests. As a starter, Malone averages 7.8 points per outing, hitting 39 of her 113 field goal attempts. Against Colgate on Feb. 23, Malone broke out for 14 first half points, finishing the game with a team and season-high 16 points after making five field goals. Malone averages 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds through all 28 contests and has now led the team in scoring twice (vs. Colgate and vs. Navy). She recorded a team-best nine rebounds against Bucknell on Jan. 15. Amongst Patriot League players, Malone ranks 26th in scoring and eighth in free throw percentage (73.0). In that category, she has made 54 of her 74 attempts from the line, including her perfect four of four performance against Colgate on Wednesday.

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) has been a major factor after accepting the role as the team's sixth man this season. Starting 13 games and coming off the bench in 15, Ward averages 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 31.9 percent from the floor (45-for-141) on the season, almost doubling her career average of 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds. In her start against Harvard, Ward broke out fora 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 has five double-digit scoring outings in 28 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 66 free throws in 79 attempts (83.5 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 first amongst Patriot League leaders in the free throw percentage category. In all, Ward has led the squad in scoring twice and has led or tied the team in assists six times. She has a total of 65 assists this season, seven away from her career-high of 72 assists last season. In her 86 career games played, Ward has collected 358 points, 161 rebounds and 143 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 she currently averages 4.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 28 games off the bench. She also shoots 35.7 percent (35-for-98) from the floor and averages 14.5 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 fourth on the team with her 3.8 rebounding average (first amongst the freshman class) and has at least one rebound in the last 19 games, bringing her season total to 106 rebounds. 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 62 of 83 free throw attempts (74.7 percent), ranking sixth amongst league individuals. 

DEFENSE MAY'S WAY: Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), who is listed as a 6-0 forward/guard, ranks first on the team with 47 steals this season, tallying a career-high in steals made in a season. After recording nine steals in the last three games, including a career-best five steals at Navy, May now averages 1.7 steals per game, ranking fifth amongst Patriot League performers. She tallied another career-high with seven assists against Lafayette on Feb. 5. and has a total of 55 assists this season, ranking fifth on the team. She also ties the team-high in blocks, registering 12 blocks so far this season. She recorded a career-best four blocks against East Tennessee State on Dec. 28 and averages 0.4 blocks-per-game. Her 12 blocks are a career-high, besting her eight blocks from the 2009-2010 season. Through 28 games, May is averaging 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds after adding five rebounds to the team's total of 48 boards against Colgate in the last game. 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. In her 81 career games played, May has recorded 452 points, 319 rebounds and 153 assists.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross ranks first amongst Patriot League teams in the assists category. Through 28 games, Holy Cross averages 15.6 assists per outing (437 total) as Alex Smith leads the way with 93 assists, leading the team in the category in 10 of the last 15 games. The squad tied a season-high with 26 dishes against Lafayette on Feb. 5, which they also did against Maine on Dec. 4. On the national scene, Holy Cross ranks 37th in the team assists category as of Feb. 21. The team also ranks third in assist/turnover ratio, averaging 15.6 assists to 18.4 turnovers (0.9 ratio). Amy Lepley, Whitney Fremeau Alyssa May and Smith have all recorded seven assists, a single game-high for the Crusaders. In all, the Crusaders have recorded more assists than their opponents in 15 of the 28 total games.

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 496-284 record as head coach (.636 winning percentage), including a 10-18 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 490 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.

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 28 games of action, the captains have put up 677 points, 314 rebounds and 187 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. 

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross will look for answers as to who it will play next in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. Seedings and time will be determined, as the quarterfinals will be at the site of the higher seed on Saturday, March 5.  

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. 21. Currently, the Crusaders rank 37th in assists per game (15.6), 82nd in assist/turnover ratio (0.9) and 218th in scoring offense (61.3). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 12th in three-point shots made per game (3.0) and 52nd in three-point percentage (39.0). Lastly, Whitney Fremeau ranks 157th on the national scene with her 41.8 field goal percentage and 187th in points per game. 

SCOUTING LEHIGH:
19-9 (9-4 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH: Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan is in her 16th season at the helm of the Mountain Hawks women's basketball program. Troyan took over the reins at Lehigh during the 1995-1996 season and owns a 255-211 career record with the Mountain Hawks, including the 19-9 record in the 2010-2011 season. Troyan is also 11-25 when facing the Crusaders, but has guided her team to six straight wins, including a 73-57 victory in the semifinal round of the 2010 Patriot League Tournament.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's Lehigh team enters Saturday's game with a 19-9 record, 9-4 in the Patriot League. The squad has won eight contests in a row, dating back to Jan. 22 and last winning against Bucknell (72-39) at home on Feb. 23. They are also in a tie for first place with American and Navy in league standings. The Mountain Hawks have losses to American (64-51), Navy (63-62), Army (54-52) and Lafayette (57-54) and have won out since. They went 10-5 in non-conference play and are 10-3 when playing on their home hardwood at Stabler Arena. The team returns 12 letterwinners, including three of the five starters from last season. Senior guard Erica Prosser leads the team offensively with 13.7 points per game, while shooting 40.5 percent (130 of 321) from the floor. Two other starters average double-figures as senior forward Courtney Dentler and junior forward Emily Gratch add 11.3 and 10.9 points per game respectively. Lehigh is the reigning Patriot League champions, finishing last season with a 12-3 overall record, 13-1 in league play.