Women's Basketball Continues Homestand Against Fordham On Saturday

Christine Ganser

Full Fordham Game Notes in PDF format

Game Day Quick Facts:
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-2, 0-0 Patriot) vs. Fordham (1-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Date: November 19, 2011
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio, Jeremy Lechan; play-by-play; Listen here
Unofficial Live Stats: Click here
Fordham Radio: WFUV-90.7
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 31-7
Last Meeting: Fordham 67, Holy Cross 37 (November 20, 2010, Bronx, N.Y.)

THE SERIES WITH FORDHAM: Saturday's match-up marks the 39th meeting all-time between the Crusaders and Rams, as Holy Cross holds a dominating 31-7 lead in the series. The first meeting between the two teams occurred on Jan. 25, 1983 at the Hart Center in Worcester. The Crusaders won that first meeting, 76-60. The Rams became an annual competitor for Holy Cross that season as well as the two teams played twice a year as members of the MAAC and then Patriot League conferences. Holy Cross won every game when the two played as MAAC squads from 1984-1990, posting a 15-0 record against Fordham. The two teams then became members of the Patriot League in 1991 and continued to play annually as the Rams handed the Crusaders their first loss of the series on Feb. 19, 1992, winning 77-63 in Bronx, N.Y. Head coach Bill Gibbons boasts a 28-7 record when playing the Rams while current Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley, in her first season as the head coach of the Rams, has matched-up with the Crusaders once, back when she was head coach at Long Island. Six of the team's seven losses have been delivered on the road, as Holy Cross is 18-1 when playing at the Hart Center. Fordham won last season's meeting, 67-37, in New York.

PLAYING THE RAMS: In all of collegiate athletics, there are 18 teams with the nickname Rams. Saturday's game against Fordham will be one of two potential meetings with a Rams team as Holy Cross plays in the Miami Holiday Classic along with the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. In program history, the Crusaders have played against a total of three schools out of the 18 that bear the nickname, including Colorado State, Fordham and Rhode Island. All together, the Crusaders hold a 38-11 record against those teams. Fordham has been the most frequent Rams opponent as the team holds its 31-7 record over them. Holy Cross has also posted a 7-3 record against Rhode Island and a 0-1 record against Colorado State.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10: In program history, Holy Cross has played against 11 of the 14 teams that compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. This season, the squad will face Fordham and Massachusetts as their only A-10 competitors. Combined, Holy Cross has registered an all-time 39-16 record against the Rams and Minutewomen. Against the other nine conference teams, the Crusaders have notched 23 wins and 15 losses throughout program history. The team boasts winning records against Dayton (1-0), La Salle (11-8), Rhode Island (7-3), Richmond (1-0) Saint Louis (1-0) and Xavier (2-0) while posting losing records against George Washington (0-2), and Temple (0-1). The squad has never played Charlotte, Duquesne or St. Bonaventure.

THE JESUIT BASKETBALL SPOTLIGHT: The matchup between Holy Cross and Fordham is part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, using Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Holy Cross and Fordham are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice. The spotlight project includes awareness announcements during these designated games and during gamecasts on radio and television. Jesuit, Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. The Jesuit educational mission began in Europe approximately 500 years ago. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, visit 'www.ajcunet.edu'.

HOME IS WHERE THE HART IS: Holy Cross, who is now 1-0 at the Hart Center this season, will play in 12 more home games. Last season, the Crusaders went 6-7 when playing on the Hart Center hardwood, winning against New Hampshire, Harvard, Maine, Bucknell, Lafayette and Colgate, and falling to Yale, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Army, Navy, Lehigh and American. The Crusaders currently have a .773 home victory percentage since becoming a Division I program as the 2011-2012 season marks the 38th 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 six losing seasons, including last year's 6-7 record. A total of 47 teams have never won at the Hart Center. Combined, the Crusaders have won 156 of 190 meetings against this year's home opponents.

WARD AIMS HIGH: The lone senior on the roster, Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.), was named captain for the 2011-2012 season. Ward was also named a tri-captain for the 2010-2011 season. She is the veteran leader in the backcourt and has started at guard in all three games this season, averaging 33.3 minutes per game. Ward broke out for 15 points in the win against Quinnipiac, making five of her eight field goals attempts, and now has 11 career games where she's posted double-figures. In her season debut at Yale, Ward went 3-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-3 from the free throw line, finishing with nine points. She posted five points and four rebounds in the following game against nationally-ranked Connecticut. Ward saw action in all 30 games last season while starting 13. She averaged 23.2 minutes, 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. She registered a Holy Cross single-season record when she went 12-for-12 from the free throw line against Quinnipiac and finished the season as the team's top free throw performer, making 84 percent of her attempts. In her career, she has scored 391 points, recorded 174 rebounds and 170 assists.

SMOOTH SMITH: Sophomore guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) was chosen to the preseason All-League Team after being named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team last season. Her numbers continue to climb as she recorded a season-high 14 points in the win over Quinnipiac. She also tied the team-high with six assists and tied her career-high with eight rebounds. In her season debut at Yale, Smith returned to form from the three-point line, making three of her six attempts and finished the game with 11 points and a career-best eight assists. She sank two more three point shots against UConn now has 24 games in her career where she's made at least two three-pointers. She currently leads the tram and Patriot League with 17 assists. Last season, Smith ranked second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 point per game. She also ranked first on the team in minutes played per game (32.0) and assists (98). She finished the season with 82 three-pointers made, ranking second-highest in the Holy Cross single-season records.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Junior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) returns for her third-straight season as one of the team's starting forwards. Lepley is at full strength after recovering from a tweaked knee late last season. In the last time out against Quinnipiac, she notched a season-high 13 points and six rebounds. She scored 12 points, brought down five rebounds and tallied five assists in her 2011-2012 season debut against Yale. She also tied the team-high with eight points while attempting a team-high 12 shots against the Connecticut Huskies. After all three games, she has made 48.1 percent of her field goal attempts (13 of 27) and has two double-figure scoring outings, bringing her career total to 24 games in double-figures. Originally playing as a guard in high school, the converted forward led the team in rebounding (5.6 per game) and blocks (13) in 2010-2011. In her career she has scored 529 points, recorded 309 rebounds and 114 assists.

PICK-ME-UP PARKER: Freshman forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) got her Holy Cross career off to a great start, posting a double-double in her first game in a Crusaders uniform. Her 17-point, 10-rebound performance at Yale became the first time in 15 years of Holy Cross basketball that a freshman posted such high numbers in her first-ever performance. The feat landed her Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors on Nov. 15 as she joins sophomore Alex Smith and junior Amy Lepley, who both earned multiple rookie honors from the conference in their first seasons. Parker tore her ACL for the second time her senior season in high school and sat out against UConn. She followed the break with a 20-point, eight rebound performance in the 80-70 win over Quinnipiac, leading the team in points and tying the team-high in rebounds. She also recorded two blocks and leads the team with three blocks on the season. She averages 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game thus far.

COMEBACK MALONE: Sophomore guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.), who did not start the two exhibition games for Holy Cross this fall, has come back to earn the third starting guard spot in all three games this season. She shined in her season debut at Yale, playing 34 minutes and scoring 13 points on a 4-for-9 shooting effort. Two of her baskets made it a one-possession contest against the Bulldogs, including a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the game. Against UConn on Sunday, Malone made it to the free throw line eight times, tying her career-high with six free throws made. Malone then scored another four baskets against Quinnipiac the last time out and earned a career-high six assists. She also averages two steals per game, leading the team in that category. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game, while also adding 29 steals. Her scoring average and steals ranked fourth on the squad and she started in a total of 18 games.

HAMNER TIME: Sophomore guard Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.) has emerged from the preseason as one of the team's top shooting guards. Against Yale in the season opener, Hamner scored six points, going 3-for-5 from the floor and added five rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. She then hit two of her three shot attempts in the win over Quinnipiac and registered a team and career-high three steals. Hamner returns to the court after averaging 12.3 minutes in the 28 games she played as a freshman. She tallied 3.0 points per game and scored in double-figures twice and finished the season with a 29.7 field goal percentage.

GAINS FOR GANSER: The third sophomore to earn a starting role for the 2011-2012 season is Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.). The 6-1 forward has played a total of 44 minutes this season, bringing down a total of 10 rebounds and scoring seven points. She tallied a season-high five rebounds in the last contest versus Quinnipiac. Ganser adds spark to the Crusaders' frontcourt, as she appeared in all 30 games in her freshman campaign. She ranked fourth on the team in rebounding, averaging 3.8 rebounds per game and was solid from the free throw line, making 74.7 percent of her free throws. She led or tied the team-high in rebounding in seven games.

MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE: Ever since Kaitlin Foley graduated from Holy Cross in 2007, the Crusaders have not had a true center on their roster. This year's team will turn to two new faces, freshmen Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) and Emily Parker for that frontcourt presence. The two are listed at 6-3 and 6-2 respectively and were McDonald's All-America nominees and named to their respective All-Conference teams at least twice. Both players have earned valuable playing time and are earning clutch points in the paint. On the season, the two have combined for 44 points and 22 rebounds.

STARTERS SHINE: The starting five for Holy Cross this season have earned their roles for a reason. Through the three games, Crusader starters have posted 149 of the team's 188 points. They have combined for 456 of the 600 minutes played and are shooting a combined 43.3 percent from the floor (52 of 120). They have also sported 62 rebounds, 42 assists and 16 steals. Emily Parker, who started her first career game against Quinnipiac, posted a team-high 20 points as the other four starters finished with 50 total points in the contest.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Another goal of the 2011-2012 season is to step up on all aspects of the defense. One of the main ways the team will accomplish that goal is to win the rebounding battle. Despite the loss in Friday's season opener, the team did step up the defense, outrebounding Yale 43-33. UConn outrebounded Holy Cross 49-32 while Quinnipiac earned a slight 41-39 rebounding advantage. The team is now being outrebounded by three boards per game. Despite the rebounding deficit, the Crusader improved their defense on another level, tallying a season-high four blocks next to the Bobcats' lone block on Wednesday. Last season, the team was outrebounded by a margin of 1,186-1,023, a 123 rebound difference and finished last in the Patriot League in blocks. The last Holy Cross team to outrebound all of its opponents during a season was in 2002-2003. That season, the squad put up 1,216 rebounds compared to 1,124 rebounds by their opponents. The squad finished with a 24-8 overall record and won the 2003 Patriot League Championship.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth for the second straight season in the 2011-2012 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 52 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving 11 first-place votes as senior Lisa Strack was voted preseason All-Patriot League. The Eagles earned a league-high 94 points and was followed by Lehigh, who received three first place votes and 83 points. Reigning Patriot League champion Navy was picked third with 74 points and two first place votes, while Bucknell (58 points) and Holy Cross (52) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Lafayette, Army and Colgate followed in order, earning 38, 26 and 23 points respectively.

BOWL FOR BONDS: Assistant coach Chante Bonds knows what it's like to be a champion. This past summer, Bonds was a major part of the Boston Militia, a team in the Women's Football Alliance. Her squad went 7-1 during the regular season and finished with a 3-0 record in the national conference playoffs, earning them a spot in the world championship. Facing the San Diego Surge, Bonds' Militia won the game 35-19 and was crowned the 2011 Women's Football Alliance National Champions. Bonds, who was in her third year in the women's league, earned second team All-America honors as a wide receiver. Playing as a cornerback in the championship game, Bonds stopped a San Diego drive with an interception and an 11-yard return. Bonds, born and raised in Brockton, Mass., played Division II basketball at Bentley. A combo guard, Bonds' favorite tasks on the basketball court were diving for loose balls and setting screens for post players. On the football field, she caught on to contact and tackling quickly.

SUMMER SHAPE-UP: The Crusaders went through a tough and rigorous summer off season, working with assistant coach Chante Bonds and strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil. In addition to the normal training regimen of strength, power, core stability and knee injury prevention, Keil and Bonds implemented a conditioning sprint test. The sprint test simulated game-like conditions, and when they ran it together as a team, they competed to see who can stay on top of the 'speed ladder'; slowest person is last in line, fastest person is at the top, and they fight to move up or keep their position on every sprint rep. Both Bonds and Keil felt that this new training segment changed the squad's mentality of being on the team and kept them training with consistency and intensity throughout the summer.

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: Despite its preseason ranking, the Holy Cross women's basketball team has its eyes set back on the top spot amongst the Patriot League's eight teams. Since its inaugural season back in 1991, the team has posted 243 league victories and just 71 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-10 all-time record. The team was seeded sixth in the tournament last season, a program low and lost to American in the quarterfinals. 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 28 of the 71 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 13 wins against Holy Cross as well.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2011-2012 season is the second 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.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 27th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 27th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 31st as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2011-2012. He has compiled a 497-288 record as head coach (.633 winning percentage), including a 1-2 record at the helm this season. He ranks 24th on the active Division I win leaders list and is three wins shy of his 500th victory. 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 16 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 26 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 495 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.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: The Crusader's three game homestand concludes on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Holy Cross will host Massachusetts in its second-consecutive game against an Atlantic-10 opponent that evening. Tip time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.  

Record: 1-1 Affiliation: Atlantic-10
HEAD COACH: Head coach Stephanie Gaitley brings 25 years of experience with her and in that time she has amassed a career record of 464-270. She has made coaching stops at Monmouth, LIU, Saint Joseph's and Richmond prior to her arrival at Fordham. Her teams have 10 postseason appearances including seven trips to the NCAA and three WNIT appearances.

2011-2012 SQUAD: The Fordham women's basketball team stands at 1-1 after opening up its season with a 59-42 loss to Albany and the following with a 52-43 win against Cleveland State. Senior Becky Peters became the 15th Fordham player to notch 1,000 points in her career, doing so against Albany. The 2011-2012 Rams return five letterwinners from last season and bring in 10 newcomers, including seven freshmen. Sophomore Abigail Corning currently leads the squad with 13.5 points per game while two players, Peters and junior Charlotte Stoddart, lead the team defensively with eight rebounds per game.