Women's Basketball Travels To American For Patriot League Quarterfinals

Alyssa May

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Game Day Quick Facts:
Patriot League Quarterfinals

The Teams: Holy Cross (10-19, 6-8 PL) vs. American (20-8, 10-4 PL)
Date: March 5, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Bender Arena (3,044), Washington, D.C.

Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play, Listen Here
Patriot League All-Access: www.patriotleague.org/allaccess/

Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 14-9
Last Meeting: American 73, Holy Cross 62 (February 19, 2011, Worcester, Mass.) 

CRUSADERS SET FOR 2011 PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT: Holy Cross opens up play in the 2011 Patriot League Tournament on Saturday, March 5, as it plays as the No. 6 seed in the tournament, matching up with American, the No. 3 seed at 2:00 p.m. The tournament is held at the higher seeds, as the Crusaders will travel to play in Washington, D.C. The winner of the Holy Cross-American game will move on to face the Lehigh-Lafayette winner in the semifinals on Wednesday, March 9, with the championship game set for Saturday, March 12 at the highest remaining seed. This is the first year that the women's basketball Patriot League Tournament games are being held at the higher seeds. In the past, one institution hosted all rounds of quarterfinals and semifinals.

THE SEEDINGS: Holy Cross is the No. 6 seed in the Patriot League tournament, marking the first time the Crusaders have ever been the sixth seed in the tournament. Throughout the program's history in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has been the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament 11 times, including seven consecutive seasons dating from 1997 until 2003. In all, the Crusaders have recorded 17 wins and two losses as the top seed. They have also been the No. 2 seed four times (9-3), No. 3 two times (4-1), No. 4 two times (0-2) and No. 5 once (1-1). Holy Cross stands at 1-3 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded lower than its opponent. The Crusaders enter Saturday's game with a 1-3 record in its last four Tournament appearances, topping Army in the quarterfinals last year before losing to Lehigh in the semifinals. Holy Cross also lost to Army in the quarterfinals of the 2009 tournament and dropped a 57-45 decision to Bucknell in the 2008 Patriot League championship game. Holy Cross was seeded second in 2008, fourth in 2009 and fifth in 2010.

TOURNAMENT TIP-INS: The Crusaders, who face American in the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2006 tournament, stand 2-0 all-time against the Eagles in tournament play…This marks the first time the two have met in the postseason since 2007, where the Crusaders topped the Eagles for the 2007 Patriot League Tournament crown…In the two postseason match-ups, Holy Cross has outscored American 113-97…Saturday's quarterfinal round will be the first time Holy Cross has played a tournament game at Bender Arena…The Crusaders are 17-8 when playing on the road for tournament games, including their eighth loss in Bethlehem, Pa. during the 2009 quarterfinals…American has never hosted a Patriot League tournament competition…Holy Cross has hosted the Patriot League Tournament five times, including the 1993, 1996, 2005, 2006 and 2010 seasons. When hosting, Holy Cross has recorded 12 wins and two losses.

DON'T CALL IT AN UPSET: The Crusaders will attempt to become the fifth No. 6 seed in Patriot League Tournament history to defeat the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals. The last time a six-seed upset the three-seed was 2009, when Navy beat Bucknell, 53-51. It also happened in 2002 and 2003, when Army upset Lehigh in both years. Army made it to the finals in 2003, but lost to Holy Cross. The first time a No.3 topped the No. 6 was in 1994, when Navy upset Lafayette, 64-63. Only one team lower than the No. 3 seed has ever won a Patriot League Tournament title, as the 2008 Bucknell team, who topped the Crusaders in the championship game, became the only No. 5 seed to advance past the semifinal round.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY VERSUS AMERICAN: Holy Cross and American have met just two times in the 20-year history of the Patriot League tournament. The Crusaders have won each battle, topping the Eagles in the quarterfinals round of the 2006 tournament and then again in the championship round of the 2007 season. Holy Cross won the first game, 57-49 and then followed with a 56-48 victory for the 2007 Patriot League title. The Crusaders were the second seed in 2006 and the third seed in 2007 while American was the seventh seed in 2006 and the fourth seed in 2007. American is the third seed this season after taking the second seed in 2010, its highest seeding since joining the conference. No player on the current Holy Cross roster has faced an American team in the postseason. Sophomore Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) averages the most amount of points when playing American, putting up 9.3 points in four games played.

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST AMERICAN: Saturday's match-up will be the 24th meeting between Holy Cross and American. The Eagles became the most recent member of the Patriot League during the 2001-2002 season and have been an annual competitor for Holy Cross since Jan. 26, 2002. The teams first met on Dec. 3, 2000 in the St. Joseph's Classic championship game. The Crusaders topped the Eagles, 67-62, to earn the championship title. Holy Cross then went on to win the following five meetings with its Patriot League opponent, scoring at least 60 points in every triumph. The Eagles broke the six-game slide on Feb. 20, 2004 at Bender Arena by a score of 81-65. The Crusaders then put together another five-game win streak, including a 57-49 victory over the Eagles in the 2006 Patriot League Tournament. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 14-9 record while current American head coach, Matt Corkery, stands at 5-1 after earning his fifth win against the Crusaders, 73-62, on Feb. 19, 2011. American leads the series at Bender Arena, 6-4, as Holy Cross is on a four-game slide when playing in Washington. American is currently on a four-game win streak over the Crusaders, dating back to Jan. 21, 2009.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2010-2011 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. After the Feb. 26 loss at Lehigh, Holy Cross finishes in sixth place with a 6-8 record in league play. Over the last 21 seasons, the Crusaders have competed in a total of 302 league match-ups, winning 233 and dropping 69 games total for a .772 winning percentage. The team was seeded fifth in the tournament last season, 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 has now recorded two consecutive losing seasons for the first time ever in program history, going 5-9 in 2009-2010 and 6-8 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 13 wins against Holy Cross as well.

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. During the regular season, Lepley averaged 9.8 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game. She has the second-best shooting percentage, 41.5 percent (112-for-270), amongst starters. Lepley averaged 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the final two games of the regular season, scoring 14 points and bringing down nine rebounds against Colgate and then recording 12 points and six rebounds at Lehigh. 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 15 double-digit scoring outings, including the last five 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, 14 points vs. Colgate and 12 points at Lehigh. She has led or tied the team-high in rebounding in 13 out of the 29 games, including double-figure rebounding in three games. 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. On her young career, Lepley now has 494 points, 291 rebounds and 105 assists.

ALL-ROOKIE SMITH: Freshman Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) was recently named to the 2011 Patriot League All-Rookie team for her efforts on the court this season joining American's Alexis Dobbs, Bucknell's Shelby Romine, Lafayette's Danielle Fiacco and Navy's Jade Geif. After the regular season, Smith ranks second on the team with 11.3 points, adds 3.5 rebounds per game and shoots 37.2 percent from the floor (105 of 282). 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-eleven of her field goal attempts have come as three-point shots as well, which now ranks first in the Holy Cross single season records, topping Bethany O'Dell's record of 208 attempts set in 2006-2007. 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 29 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. 27 NCAA rankings, Smith now ranks 15th in the nation in the three-pointers made per-game category (2.9). She also has five Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors under her belt after earning the award in three of the last four 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 96 in all after tallying a season-high seven assists against Colgate on Feb. 23. After the regular season, Smith averages 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 32 minutes per game, another team-high.

FREMEAU NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-LEAGUE: SeniorWhitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) was rewarded for her stellar offensive and defensive as she was named to the first team All-Patriot League, an improvement from her second team honor last season. She finishes the regular season at No. 21 in the team's all-time leading scorers list after scoring a team-high 15 points at Lehigh, bringing her career-points total to 1,080. Fremeau leads the team with a 14.3 points per game average, adds 4.3 rebounds per game and makes and takes the team's largest number of shots (169-for-400 from the floor). Fremeau extended her double-figure scoring streak to 19 games on Satursday, hitting seven field goals in 12 attempts. She also has 414 points 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 24 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, 11 vs. Colgate and 15 at Lehigh. She has also led or tied the team in scoring 13 times. She also averaged 16.3 points per game against Patriot League opponents. In all games, Fremeau ranks second amongst Patriot League individuals with her 14.3 scoring average. She also averages 31 minutes per game and is shooting 42.3 percent from the floor, a team-high. 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 114 career games played, Fremeau adds 455 rebounds and 213 assists to her 1,080 career points.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Through the 29 games of the regular 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 719 of the team's 1,773 total points, are bringing down 137 out of 1,038 rebounds, add 179 of the 451 assists and 96 of the 237 total steals. Together, the five are averaging five points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while making 236 of their 676 field goal attempts (34.9 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.) has been an added spark to the starting lineup for the Crusaders. After the regular season, Malone has started 16 of the Crusaders' 29 total games, including the last seven contests. As a starter, Malone averages 7.9 points per outing, hitting 42 of her 120 field goal attempts. She averaged the highest number of points by any Crusader in the lost two games of the regular season, putting up 13.5 points per game, including a season-high 16 points against Colgate on Feb. 23. In all, Malone averages 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds and led the team in scoring twice (vs. Colgate and vs. Navy). She recorded a team-best nine rebounds against Bucknell on Jan. 15. Malone is also solid from the free throw line, as she has made 59 of her 80 attempts, including a five-of-six performance at Lehigh on Jan. 26.

WILLFUL WARD: Junior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) continues to be a major factor on the court after accepting the role as the team's sixth man this season. Starting 13 games and coming off the bench in 16, Ward finishes the regular season with averages of 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 31.3 percent from the floor (45-for-144) 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 29 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. 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 67 assists this season, five away from her career-high of 72 assists last season. In her 87 career games played, Ward has collected 358 points, 162 rebounds and 145 assists.

GOOD GRABS BY GANSER: Freshman Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) has emerged as a great force underneath the basket for the Crusaders this season. After the team's 29 regular season games, Ganser averages 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds off the bench. She also shoots 35.3 percent (36-for-102) from the floor and averages 14.4 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 fourth on the team with her 3.9 rebounding average (first amongst the freshman class) and has at least one rebound in the last 20 games, bringing her season total to 112 rebounds after tying the team-high with six rebounds at Lehigh. 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). 

DEFENSE MAY'S WAY: Senior Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.), who is listed as a 6-0 forward/guard, completed her final season as the team's top thief, recording 48 steals over the regular season. Her 48 steals are a career-high in steals made in a season. After recording 10 steals in the last four games, including a career-best five steals at Navy, May now averages 1.7 steals per game. 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 82 career games played, May has recorded 458 points, 322 rebounds and 153 assists.

ROADWOES: Holy Cross finished the regular season with a 4-10 record when playing on the road, matching the 2007-2008 squads' road record. The squad returns to the road for the Patriot League quarterfinals on Saturday, March 5 at American, looking for its fourth win against Patriot League opponents on the road as it currently has a 3-4 record when playing at conference opponents' home courts. Since 2000, the Crusaders have posted four losing season records on the road, including the last four seasons. This year's Holy Cross team averages 55.9 points per road game. Home teams average 71.1 points and are knocking down 43.1 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 7.5 rebounds when playing on the road as Lehigh out-rebounded the Crusaders 46-45 in the last road contest of the regular season.

HELPING HANDS: Holy Cross completed the regular season with 451 assists, the most by any team in the Patriot League. Through 29 games, Holy Cross averages 15.6 assists per outing as Alex Smith leads the way with 96 assists, leading the team in the category in 11 of the last 16 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 34th in the team assists category as of Feb. 27. 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 29 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 496-285 record as head coach (.635 winning percentage), including a 10-19 record at the helm after the 2010-2011 regular 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 29 games of the regular season, the captains put up 698 points, 322 rebounds and 189 assists.

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. 27. Currently, the Crusaders rank 34th in assists per game (15.6), 86th in assist/turnover ratio (0.84) and 212th in scoring offense (61.1). Alex Smith remains a top the nation's three-point performers as she ranks 15th in three-point shots made per game (2.9) and 72nd in three-point percentage (37.9). Lastly, Whitney Fremeau ranks 147th on the national scene with her 42.3 field goal percentage and 195th in points per game (14.3).

SCOUTING AMERICAN:
20-8 (10-4 Patriot League)

HEAD COACH: American head coach Matt Corkery is in his third season at the helm of the Eagles women's basketball program. Corkery took over the reins at American in the spring of 2008 and owns a 61-30 career record with his Eagles, including his 20-8 record in the 2010-2011 regular season. He is also 29-9 against Patriot League opponents, which includes the 10-4 league conference record this season. In total, Corkery has been on the American staff for five seasons, dating back to the 2004.

2010-2011 SQUAD: This year's American team enters Saturday's quarterfinal as co-champion of the 2010-2011 Patriot League regular season, sharing the crown with Navy and Lehigh. The squad plays as the No. 3 seed in the tournament, finishing the conference slate with a 10-4 record. They also went 10-4 in non-conference play and are an impressive 9-2 when playing on the road. The team returns eight letterwinners, including three of the five starters from last season. Senior forward Liz Leer leads the team offensively and defensively with 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Patriot League first team. Junior guard Lisa Strack follows with 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and was named to the second team. American completed the 2009-2010 season with a record of 22-10, including a 13-1 mark in Patriot League contests, losing to Lehigh in the Patriot League Championship game.