Crusaders Ready To Play At Navy For 2012 Patriot League Championship

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams:
No. 5 Holy Cross (18-13, 7-7 PL) vs. No. 3 Navy (17-13, 8-6 PL)
Date: March 10, 2012
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Place: Alumni Hall (5,710), Annapolis, Md.
CBS Sports Television: Leah Secondo, color; Bob Socci, play-by-play
Unofficial Live Stats: Click here
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre play-by-play; Click Here to Listen
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 38-10
Last Meeting: Navy 73, Holy Cross 56 (Worcester, Mass.; February 8, 2012)

CRUSADERS SET TO PLAY FOR TWELFTH PATRIOT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP:
Holy Cross ousted the No. 1 seed American in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament to earn a bid to its 16th appearance all-time in the Patriot League Championship. The Crusaders will play against the No. 3 seed and reigning league champions, Navy, at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 10. All rounds of the tournament will be hosted by the higher seed as Navy will host Saturday's contest at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. The winner of the Holy Cross-Navy game will earn its right to the 2012 Patriot League crown and a bid into the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

TOURNAMENT HEROES: Leading the way for Holy Cross in the 2012 tournament is a combination of hot scoring, tough rebounding and overall good team play. Out of the 19 team statistics put out by the Patriot League, Holy Cross ranks first in seven of them. So far, Holy Cross leads all tournament participants in scoring defense (51.0), scoring margin (+12.0), field goal percentage (45.9), assists (17.0), field goal percentage defense (32.2), assist/turnover ratio (1.1) and defensive rebounds (27.5). Two players are averaging double figures in the tournament as junior Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) and sophomore Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) average 17 and 12.5 points per game respectively. Ganser also ranks second in field goal percentage, sinking 90 percent of her shots. Freshman Ashley Cooper (Colts Neck, N.J.) is also emerging as a tournament star as she averages 8.5 points per game, third highest on the team, and 2.5 three-point field goals made, a team best.

THE SEEDINGS: Holy Cross is the No. 5 seed in the Patriot League tournament, marking the second time in three years that the Crusaders have finished as the No. 5 seed. The last time was in 2010. Navy has been seeded No. 3 four other times, the last time coming in 2009-2010. They lost to No. 2 seed American in the semifinals. 2012 is the second time in Patriot League Tournament history that the two lower seeds won both semifinal games. The only other time it happened was 1997. Holy Cross' 67-52 win over American Monday night was its first-ever upset of the tournament's No. 1 seed. It was 0-2 against the top seed before Monday. 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), No. 5 once (1-1) and No. 6 once (0-1). Holy Cross stands at 2-4 all-time in Patriot League Tournament games when it has been seeded lower than its opponent. The Crusaders enter Saturday's game with a 3-4 record in their last seven tournament games, topping American in the semifinals. Holy Cross lost to American in the quarterfinals of the 2011 tournament, to Lehigh in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament, to Army in the quarterfinals of the 2009 tournament and to Bucknell in the 2008 Patriot League championship game. Holy Cross was seeded second in 2008, fourth in 2009, fifth in 2010 and sixth in 2011.

TOURNAMENT TIP-INS: The Crusaders face Navy in the championship game for the third time in Patriot League Tournament history, with Holy Cross owning a 2-0 record in the previous meetings…The two have met in the postseason a total of six times, once in the quarterfinals, three times in the semis and twice in the championship…Holy Cross has won all six postseason meetings…The last postseason meeting between the two in the 2008 quarterfinals with Holy Cross topping the Mids 67-53…The two last met in the championship game of the 1999 tournament as the Crusaders won out 72-58…This will be the first postseason meeting where Navy holds the higher seed…Saturday's championship will be the seventh time Holy Cross has played a tournament game at Alumni Hall…The Crusaders are 19-7 when playing away from home for tournament games, picking up their 19th victory at American in the semifinals round of this year's tournament…Navy hosted the 2007 Patriot League Tournament, the last time Holy Cross won the Patriot League Championship …In championship games, Holy Cross boasts an overall record of 11-4…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.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY VS. NAVY: Holy Cross and Navy have met six times in the 22-year history of the Patriot League tournament. The Crusaders are 6-0 in the series, topping the Mids in two championship games, three semifinals and one quarterfinal. Holy Cross won the first postseason match-up 83-79 in the semifinals of the 1994 tournament. The two last met in the 2008 postseason semifinal round, the last time Holy Cross earned a bid in the championship game. Against the Mids, the Crusaders have always been the higher seed (No. 2 in 1994, 1996 and 2008 and No. 1 in 1998, 1999 and 2005). Navy is the No. 3 seed for the second time in three seasons and is looking to become the league's first repeat champion since Lehigh did it in 2009 and 2010. No current member of the Holy Cross team has faced Navy in the post season. Junior Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) averages the most amount of points when playing Navy, putting up an average of 10.3 points in six games played.

SERIES HISTORY AGAINST NAVY: Saturday's match-up will be the 49th meeting all-time between Holy Cross and Navy, with the Crusaders owning a 38-10 advantage over the Midshipmen. The teams first met during the 1992-1993 season, as the Crusaders won 75-62 in Annapolis, Md. Holy Cross continued to win the next seven meetings, outscoring Navy 555-503. The Crusaders compiled their largest win streak of 11 games against the Mids from Feb. 22, 2004 until March 8, 2008 after winning 10 straight from Feb. 9, 1999-Feb. 23, 2003. Out of the 10 total losses against Navy, five of them have come on the Hart Center hardwood, including the last four meetings in Worcester. The Crusaders broke a two game slide against the Mids in Annapolis earlier this season, winning 55-38. Holy Cross is successful when playing on Navy's home court, recording 17 wins and five losses all-time. Head coach Bill Gibbons is responsible for the 38-10 record while Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper holds a 6-2 record against the Crusaders since taking over the reins of the women's basketball program in 2008. The Crusaders broke a four-game losing streak against the Mids on the road earlier this season, tallying a 55-38 victory. 

HOLY CROSS AGAINST CONFERENCE FOES: The 2011-2012 season marks the 22nd year of Patriot League competition for the Crusaders. Over the last 22 seasons, the Crusaders have competed in a total of 344 league match-ups, winning 258 and dropping 87 games total for a 75.0 winning percentage, including a 7-7 record after the regular season. The squad finished the final four league games of the regular season with a 3-1 record and earned the No. 5 seed in the tournament. The squad's 7-7 record ties the record from the 2006-2007 slate, the last season the Crusaders won the Patriot League Championship. 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 258-87 league record. In all, Holy Cross has made 22 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 40-10 all-time record. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 44-4 all-time record against the Raiders, including an unblemished 26-0 record at the Hart Center. The team also boasts a 47-8 record against Lafayette, winning the last five meetings. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 29 of the 87 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 15 wins against Holy Cross, including nine in a row.

ROAD WARRIORS: Holy Cross finished the regular season with a 6-9 record as the travel team and is now 2-0 in tournament action on the road. The squad's 84-71 victory at Brown on Jan. 16 was its best performance on the road in the regular season as the team shot a season-best 59.3 percent from the floor and tallied a season-best 32 field goals. Altogether, the team averages 60.4 points per game as the road team while allowing 63.8 points. Comparatively, the Crusaders post 66.3 points per game at home while allowing their opponents to score 62.8 points per game. The Crusaders also shoot 40.7 percent on the road while they shoot over 42 percent, 42.9, at home. The team has lost at Yale, UConn, Central Connecticut, Boston College, Miami, Lehigh, Colgate, American and Army and won at New Hampshire, Harvard, Navy, Brown Lafayette, Bucknell, Army twice and American. 

PATRIOT LEAGUE HONOREES: Three members of the squad were named to All-Patriot League teams for the 2011-2012 season. Sophomore Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) earned first team honors after being named to the All-Rookie squad last season. Amy Lepley was named to the second team and was also named to the second annual Academic All-Patriot League team. Freshman Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) rounded out the awards for Holy Cross as she was named to the All-Rookie team. Holy Cross has had one freshman named to the All-Rookie team three years in a row.

HEAVY HITTERS:
Sophomore Alex Smith and junior Amy Lepley are showing the Patriot League why Holy Cross boasted a winning record after the regular season. Lepley currently leads the team with 13.5 points per game while Smith follows close behind with 12.2 points per game. Lepley ranks tied for second in the league in scoring while Smith sits in fifth place. Army's Anna Simmers finished her season as the league's top point producer, ranking first with 14.8 points per game. Colgate's Jhazmine Lynch ends her season in second with 13.5 points per game while Black Knight Jen Hazlett finished between Lepley and Smith in fourth with 12.9 points per game. Combined, the two have led the team in scoring in 22 of the team's 31 games, including 10 of the 14 conference games. Lepley led the team in scoring against Patriot League opponents, averaging 13.6 points and leads the squad with an average of 17.0 points per tournament game. 

TURNOVER TENACITY: Sophomores Alex Smith and Brisje Malone are showing off their seasoned skills, leading the team not only with their scoring capabilities, but also their ability to create shots for their teammates. The two have combined for 286 of the squad's 532 assists (53.8 percent) and account for only 202 of the total 515 turnovers. Through the 31 games, Smith leads the Patriot League with a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio (177 assists, 110 turnovers) while Malone is fourth with a 1.2 ratio (109 assists, 93 turnovers). Both tallied 11 assists in one game, Smith doing so against Harvard and Malone against Morgan State. Their output ranks in a tie for fifth in Holy Cross single-game records. Combined, the two have led the team in the assist category in 30 of the 31 total games as Smith topped the squad for the sixth straight game with seven assists versus American in the semifinals. As a team, Holy Cross posts a 1.03 a/t ratio, the best in the league.

SPREAD THE WEALTH: One of the biggest reasons for Holy Cross' success this season is its ability to spread out the offense. Through the 31 games, seven of the 11 players on the roster have scored in double-figures. Alex Smith and Amy Lepley lead the pack with a combined 43 double-figure outings. All five of the team's regular starters have hit the double-figure mark at least once while Christine Ganser adds six double-figure outings, including three of the last four contests. Ashley Cooper became the seventh player to hit the mark with an 11-point outing against Navy on Feb. 8. Six different players have led the team in scoring this season as Emily Parker has led the team in scoring in four of the last 10 games. A season-high of five players reached the double-digit mark in the last game against Colgate to close out the regular season.

OFFENSE ON TOP: The Holy Cross women's basketball team has hung onto its offensive tempo all season, leading the league with a combined averaged of 63.5 points per game. When playing non-conference opponents, the Crusaders averaged 64.4 points per game and averaged 62.2 points per game against league foes. In all, the team has put up 1,970 points in 31 contests. The second-highest scoring team in the Patriot League through all games is Lehigh, who wrapped up its season with an average of 59.3 points per game, a difference of 4.2 points per game. The squad's outburst of 82 points against Bryant was a season-high while a season-best 32 field goals were made against Brown. The team's overall field goal percentage, 41.7, is a league best as it has combined to make 738 of the 1,769 shot attempts. The team is averaging 24 field goals made per game. Against league opponents, the Crusaders hit 41.5 percent of their field goals (357 of 861). Altogether, the team is 13-4 when playing in games where it's scored over 60 points and 14-4 when shooting better than 40 percent. When scoring under 60 points, the team is 2-8.

WARD LEADS SQUAD: The lone senior on the roster, Meredith Ward, 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 31 games this season, averaging 30.7 minutes, 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Her playing time has increased dramatically during her senior season as she averaged 21.3 minutes over her first three years. Her point and rebound averages have also improved as she is averaging 2.3 more points 1.8 more rebounds than her career averages (4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds). She currently ranks 29th in scoring amongst Patriot League leaders. Ward has notched four double-digit scoring outings thus far, highlighted by her first career double-double against UMass on Nov. 22. She scored 14 points and tallied a career-best 12 rebounds, almost doubling her previous high of seven rebounds. Against Brown, Ward led the squad with 16 points, knocking down a season-high seven field goals. She followed with a career-high eight assists at Lafayette, leading the team. Her other double-figure games include Quinnipiac (15 points) and Fordham (12). Against Lehigh on Feb. 4, Ward tied the team-high with eight rebounds, recording the second game this season where she's topped out in the rebounding category. Her free throw shooting remains strong as well, as she hits 76.9 percent (30 of 39) from the line. As a junior, Ward registered a Holy Cross single-game 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 560 points, recorded 280 rebounds and 239 assists.

SMOOTH SMITH: Sophomore guard Alex Smith was named to the first team All-Patriot League as she continues to grow in her sophomore season. Also this season, Smith was named to the Miami Classic All-Tournament team and Patriot League Player of the Week on Dec. 12. Her numbers are impressive, as she has led the team in scoring in 11 games, putting up an average of 12.2 points per game. Highlighting her scoring efforts was a 26-point outburst versus Army on Jan. 25. Smith reached new heights as she sank a career-best nine field goals, five coming from three-point range. She has scored in double-figures in 15 of the last 23 games and has 20 double-digit outings on the season. Her other double-figure games include a team-high 17 points vs. Colgate, 13 points at Army, 10 points at American, 12 points vs. Navy, 18 points vs. Lehigh, 14 points vs. Bucknell, 15 points at Brown, 11 points at Lehigh, 10 points vs. Dartmouth, 19 points vs. Morgan State, 11 points at Miami, 11 points vs. Bryant, 17 points at Boston College, 22 points at Harvard, 20 points vs. Northeastern, 15 points at Central Connecticut, 14 points versus UMass, 14 points versus Quinnipiac and 11 points at Yale. Smith topped out in the assists category against Harvard, collecting 11 to notch a career-high and record her first-ever double-double. She has 177 total assists on the season, notching a career-high and ranking fifth on the Holy Cross single-season records list. She leads the team and Patriot League with 5.7 assists per game and has led the team in the assists category in the last 12 games. She is once again a three-point threat, sinking a season-high of five three-point shots in one game four times so far (vs. Northeastern, Boston College, Morgan State and Army). She has hit multiple three-pointers in 24 of the 31 contests. Smith averages 2.5 three-pointers made per game, leading the league. She has 46 career games where she's made at least two three-pointers. As a freshman, 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. In her career, Smith has recorded 700 points, 209 rebounds and 273 assists.

LEAPS FOR LEPLEY: Junior forward Amy Lepley returns for her third-straight season as one of the team's starting forwards and earned a spot on the second team All-Patriot League for her efforts. She is at full strength as she currently ranks first on the team and second in the Patriot League in scoring average, putting up 13.5 points per game. Lepley's numbers continue to impress as she has notched a team-high 23 double-figure outings this season, highlighted by a season and career-high 24 point outburst against American in the semifinals of the 2012 tournament. She registered her fifth 20-point effort of the season, sinking nine field goals in 13 attempts. She added 20 points at Bucknell on Feb. 18, scoring almost half of the team's points and earned Patriot League Player of the Week honors for her performance. Lepley has hit double figures in 12 of the last 15 games and has led the team in scoring 13 times on the season. She has also recorded double-figures against Lehigh (22, twice), Army (10), Colgate (10), Lafayette (11), Navy (10), at Lafayette (21), at Colgate (19), Bucknell (12), Brown (14), Dartmouth (13) Morgan State (19), Bryant (18) Boston College (11), UMass (15), Harvard (15), Fordham (14), Quinnipiac (13) and Yale (12). Lepley is the team's best shooter, making 50.6 percent of her field goal attempts (176 of 348). Her field goal percentage ranks third amongst league players. She is a true double-threat as she leads the team and ranks ninth in the league in rebounding, averaging a career-best 6.3 rebounds per game. She led the team in rebounding in six of the 14 league contests, including a career and team-best 14 rebounds at Colgate. Against the Raiders, Lepley secured her fifth career double-double, scoring 19 points and tallying the 14 rebounds. She followed with her sixth career double-double in the final game of the regular season against Colgate, scoring 10 points and leading the squad with 12 boards. She is the first Crusader since Amy O'Brien in 1998-1999 to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding during a season. 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 914 points, recorded 489 rebounds and 184 assists.

PICK-ME-UP PARKER: Freshman forward Emily Parker 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 marked 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. She picked up a total of four Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors this season and was recently named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Parker has recorded double-figure outings in 11 of the last 16 games, including a game-high 16 points at Army on Feb. 22. She registered a season and team-high 20-points against Quinnipiac and has led the team in scoring seven times. Her other double-figure outing include 14 points vs. Colgate, 15 points vs. Lafayette, 15 points vs. Lehigh, 19 points at Colgate, 15 points vs. Army, 10 points at Lafayette, 10 points at Brown, 15 points vs. American, 12 points at Navy, 10 points at UNH, 13 points against Northeastern and 11 points over Bryant. She averages a total of 10.1 points per game, ranking third on the team and 13th in the Patriot League. She continues to be one of the team's top rebounders as she earned her second double-double with 12 rebounds along with the 12 points at Navy, leading the team in rebounding. She averages 5.8 boards per game, second highest on the team, and has led the squad in rebounding in eight games this season. She is the team's top shot-blocker as she notched a season-high four blocks against the Midshipmen on Jan. 11. She has posted a total of 36 blocks on the season, an average of 1.2 blocks per game, ranking seventh amongst Patriot League players. She has registered 11 games with multiple blocks, the most by any other Crusader this season. 

COMEBACK MALONE: Sophomore guard Brisje Malone, who did not start the two exhibition games for Holy Cross this fall, has come back to earn the third starting guard spot in 30 of the 31 games this season. Malone is aiding the team's top offense as she has tallied 14 double-digit scoring affairs and averages 8.8 points per game, ranking fourth on the team 18th in the league. She has hit a season-high of 15 points three times, coming at home versus Lafayette on Feb. 15, at Lafayette on Jan. 18 and at UNH. Against the Leopards on Feb. 15, Malone hit a career-best eight free throws, sinking all eight of her attempts from the line. Her overall free throw percentage, 73.9, ranks second on the team. She has also scored double-figures against Colgate (10), Bucknell (10), American (12), Dartmouth (11), Morgan State (10), Bryant (14), Boston College (10), Northeastern (11), UMass (10), Harvard (13), Central Connecticut (11) and Yale (13). Malone hits her stride in the clutch, scoring 154 of her 271 total points in the second half of games (57 percent). Malone notched two season-highs in the game against Morgan State, tallying eight rebounds and 11 assists. She became the second player on the team to notch a points, assist double-double this season, as her 11 assists were a career-best. Her versatility stretches to the defensive side of the ball as she ranks fourth on the team with 4.3 rebounds per game, leading the team in rebounding in three games so far, including a career-best nine rebounds against American in the semifinals. She is also second on the team and third in the league with 3.5 assists per game. As a freshman, she averaged 26.1 minutes and 7.1 points per game. In her career she has scored 463 points, brought down 211 rebounds and dished out 166 assists.  

GAINS FOR GANSER: Sophomore Christine Ganser, who has been a solid presence off the bench for Holy Cross this season, broke out for a career-best 21-point, four steal performance in the team's win over Dartmouth. She has shined in the team's last four games, posting 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench at Army, scoring 15 points in the team's final regular season win over Colgate and then leading the squad with 17 points on 6-for-6 shooting against the Black Knights in the quarterfinals. In tournament play, Ganser averaged 12.5 points per game, seventh highest amongst all league players. She also tallied her first career double-double against the Black Knights on Feb. 22. Her 11 rebounds tied her career-high as she also recorded a career-best two blocks. Ganser is a big addition for the Crusaders' defense as she posts 4.5 rebounds per game, third on the team and 18th amongst league foes. She has had at least two rebounds in 16 of the last 18 contests. She also makes a team-best 75.0 percent of her free throws (78 of 104), ranking sixth amongst league players. Ganser played in all 30 games as a freshman, averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds.

HELPING HANDS: For the second season in a row, the Holy Cross women's basketball team is leading the Patriot League in assists. The squad has combined for 532 assists on the season, an average of 17.2 assists per game. Lehigh finished its season ranked second in the league with 13.3 assists per game, a difference of 3.9 assists per game. Sophomore Alex Smith is once again the team's leader in the assists category, as she averages 5.7 assists per game, also leading the Patriot League. Holy Cross' 27 assists over Bryant tallied a league-high on the season. Sophomore Brisje Malone adds 3.5 assists per game, third in the league and second on the team. 

STARTERS SHINE: The starting five for Holy Cross this season have earned their roles for a reason. Through the 31 games, Crusader starters have posted 1,557 of the team's 1,970 points (79 percent). They have combined for 4,641 of the 6,225 minutes played (74.6 percent) and are shooting a combined 42.5 percent from the floor (591 of 1,391). They have also sported 720 rebounds, 457 assists and 188 steals. Against Fordham, the team's starters scored 37 of the team's 43 points. In the game against Harvard, the starters boasted 71 of 73 points. Forty-five of the team's 53 points were scored by the starting five at CCSU and 59 of the team's 61 points versus UNH were put up by starters. Fifty of the squad's 60 points were scored by starters in the Patriot League opener at Lehigh while 46 of the 55 points were posted by starters at Navy. The starting five posted 68 of the Crusaders' 73 points in the outing versus Lehigh on Feb. 4, while 39 of the 47 points scored at American were by the top five on Feb. 11. 

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 has accomplished its goal is to win the rebounding battle. The team has outrebounded 17 of 31 opponents thus far (Colgate, Lehigh, Bucknell twice, Lafayette, Brown, American twice, Navy, Morgan State, Yale, Fordham, UMass, UNH, Northeastern, Boston College and Bryant) and boasts a 12-5 record when outrebounding its opponent. When outrebounded, the team drops to a 6-8 record. Highlighting the teams rebounding efforts was a 52-33 margin against Bryant, a difference of 19 boards, a +13 difference at Navy (46-33) and a 43-29 advantage against American (+14). The 52 rebounds against Bryant were a single-game high. In all, Holy Cross posts 18 more rebounds than its opponents, a 1,162-1,144 difference. The Crusaders have also stepped up their defense on another level, obtaining more blocks than opponents in 13 of the 31 games (5-4 at American, 2-1 at Army, 6-2 at Bucknell, 3-1 vs. Lehigh, 2-1 vs. Bucknell, 2-1 at Lafayette, 5-3 at Brown, 3-0 versus American, 4-2 at Navy, 4-1 versus Quinnipiac, 3-1 at Harvard, 3-2 at UNH, 4-1 versus Bryant). Emily Parker has collected 36 of the team's 73 blocks. The team posted a season-high six blocks at Bucknell on Feb. 18. 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 team finished with a 24-8 overall record and won the 2003 Patriot League Championship.

HOLY CROSS AMONGST THE NATION'S BEST: Holy Cross has gained recognition with many of the nation's top teams and players after the 22nd round of the NCAA Division I rankings was released on March 2. The Crusaders rank 11th in assists per game (17.0), 20th in assist/turnover ratio (1.03), 68th in field goal percentage (41.5) and 141st in scoring offense (63.4). Alex Smith ranks within the top-50 in the nation with her 5.7 assists per game (19th). Smith also ranks in the top-50 with her 2.6 three-pointers made per game, currently ranking 34th. She ranks within the top-100 in assist/turnover ratio, sitting in 76th (1.57). Amy Lepley ranks 48th nationally with her 49.9 field goal percentage. 

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 in Boston, Mass. 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. 

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS:27th Season: Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons began the season with 496 career wins and now boasts a career record of 515-299 as head coach (63.2 winning percentage), including a 18-13 record at the helm this season. He became the 24th active Division I coach to have 500 career wins on Dec. 3 at New Hampshire. He 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 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. He holds sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt and is the sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, enjoying 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 500 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.

SCOUTING NAVY: Navy enters the game with an overall record of 17-13 on the season. The Mids topped No. 6 seed Colgate and No. 2 seed Lehigh to make it to their second consecutive Patriot League Championship game. Sophomore forward Jade Geif leads the team offensively with 10.7 points per game and defensively with 7.9 rebounds per game. Fellow sophomore Audrey Bauer adds 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Geif was named to the second team All-Patriot League as was sophomore guard Alix Membreno. Navy is led by head coach Stefanie Pemper, who was named the 2011 Patriot League Coach of the Year. She owns a 64-50 record after four years of coaching the Mids.