Holy Cross Travels To Northeastern On Wednesday

Alexis Nicholas

Complete release in PDF format

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-3, 0-0 PL) vs. Northeastern (4-2, 0-0 CAA)
Date: December 5, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Solomon Court (1,800), Boston, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Dick Lutsk, play-by-play, Click here to listen
Holy Cross Radio: WNEB 1230 AM, Worcester, Click here to listen
Northeastern Radio: www.GoNU.com
Unofficial Live Statistics: Click here for live stats
Live Video Streaming: www.GoNU.com
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 14-4
In Overtime Games: Northeastern leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 70, Northeastern 68 (December 7, 2011, Hart Center)

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos., No., Name, Ht., Cl.
C, 50, Emily Parker, 6-2, So.
F, 34, Christine Ganser, 6-1, Jr.
F, 31, Raquel Scott, 6-0, Fr.
G, 2, Brisje Malone, 5-9, Jr.
G, 22, Alex Smith, 5-8, Jr.

THE SERIES WITH NORTHEASTERN: This will be the 19th meeting between the Crusaders and Huskies, with Holy Cross holding the 14-4 overall series lead. The Crusaders won the last contest between the two teams on December 7, 2011 by a score of 70-68. That win ended Northeastern's three-game winning streak over the Crusaders. Holy Cross won its first 12 matchups in the series history over the Huskies, dating back to 1983, however, Northeastern has won four of the last six games versus the Crusaders. Head coach Bill Gibbons is 11-4 all-time versus the Huskies, while Northeastern head coach Daynia La-Force is 3-1 against Holy Cross.

HOLY CROSS AGAINST THE COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: In its program history, Holy Cross has played six of the 11 teams currently in the Colonial Athletic Conference (Drexel, Hofstra, UNCW, Northeastern, Old Dominion and Townson). The game versus the Huskies will be the only CAA team Holy Cross will face this season. The Crusaders own a 23-6 overall record against teams in the CAA (0.793) with winning records versus every member except Old Dominion (0-1 all-time). Besides Northeastern, the last CAA opponent Holy Cross played was Drexel on December 12, 2008.  

THREE-GAME WINNING STREAK: After beginning the season 1-3, the Crusaders have won their last three contests to move their record to above .500 at 4-3. In its game on Saturday, Dec. 1, Holy Cross held the lead for the entire contest as it defeated Manhattan, 60-52. Freshman forward Raquel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) recorded the first Crusaders double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds. In their game on Wednesday, Nov. 28, the Crusaders trailed Central Connecticut, 56-55, with 2.5 seconds on the clock. Junior guard Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) drilled a buzzer-beating jumper from just inside the three-point line to push Holy Cross to a 57-56 triumph over the Blue Devils. The win ended a two-game home losing streak for the Crusaders at the Hart Center. Malone scored 11 points and dished out a season-best nine assists for Holy Cross. Lastly, in its game on Sunday, Nov. 25 versus Massachusetts, Holy Cross trailed 56-48 with 4:22 left on the clock. The Crusaders then went on a 9-0 scoring run to grab the 57-56 lead at the 2:02 mark. After a UMass bucket, junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) drilled a three-pointer to put the Crusaders ahead 60-58 with 50 seconds left. Holy Cross would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the contest as it won by a score of 63-58. Smith scored seven points in the final 2:39 of the contest.

SLOW START TO SEASON: After a convincing 87-71 victory over Yale in the season opener on Nov. 9, the Crusaders dropped three games in a row to Boston College (52-71), New Hampshire (65-68) and Harvard (62-80). Holy Cross has begun the last three seasons with an identical 1-4 record overall as the team finished with a 10-20 record in 2010-2011, and a 19-15 record in 2011-2012. The Crusaders were able to end their three-game losing skid with a 63-58 win over Massachusetts on Nov. 25.

SMITH STEPPING UP FOR CRUSADERS: Junior guard Alex Smith has been a key offensive leader for the Crusaders during the first part of this season. The 5'8" co-captain leads the team with 15.9 points, while dishing out 4.7 assists, both of which rank second in the Patriot League. She has also collected 3.9 rebounds per contest and has drained 38.6 percent of her three-point attempts (22-of-57). She leads the Patriot League with 3.1 three-pointers made per game. Smith has scored at least 13 points in every contest this season with her best all-around game coming versus Yale, as the junior posted 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to lead Holy Cross to an 87-71 victory over the Bulldogs. She also tallied a season-high 20 points and connected on five three-pointers in the comeback win versus Massachusetts. In the win over Central Connecticut, Smith posted 16 points and tied her career-best with six steals. For her stellar play a season ago, Smith was named to the first-team All-Patriot League as she averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Prior to this year, she was voted to the 2012-2013 preseason All-Patriot League team. 

PARKER WORKING HARD IN THE POST: Sophomore forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) has been a strong presence in the frontcourt for the Crusaders this season. Through seven games, Parker is fourth on the squad with 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per contest. She scored a season-best 18 points versus Yale in the season opener as she grabbed seven rebounds in the game against Boston College. In the win over Manhattan, Parker tallied nine points and a season-best nine rebounds. Parker is coming off a solid freshman campaign in which she took home Patriot League All-Rookie team accolades in 2011-2012. Last year, the 6'2" Parker played the number five position on the floor for the Crusaders as she appeared in 32 contests, starting in 31 of them. A season ago, she averaged 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, while also blocking a team-best 38 shots. Her points mark was third on the squad, while her rebound average was second.

MALONE PLAYS KEY MINUTES IN BACKCOURT: Junior guard Brisje Malone has done well this season both offensively and defensively for Holy Cross. Through seven games, Malone leads the team with 35.3 minutes played per contest and averages 10.6 points and 5.0 assists. She is first in the Patriot League with a 2.3 assist/turnover ratio and leads the squad with 13 steals on the season. Her 1.9 swipes per game is fourth in the Patriot League, while her assist to turnover ratio of 2.3 is tops in the conference. In the season opener versus Yale, Malone scored a career-high 23 points. Malone hit the game-winning bucket to lift Holy Cross over Central Connecticut as she posted a season-best nine assists. During the 2011-12 campaign, Malone played in all 34 games in and started in all but one. She averaged 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in just under 30 minutes per contest.

GANSER STEPPING INTO STARTING ROLE: Junior forward Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) has filled in nicely for the Crusaders starting lineup. Through seven games, she is second on the team with 10.1 points per contest and leads the squad with an average of 6.6 rebounds. Her best game of the season came against Harvard, as she posted a season-high 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds. She also tallied 16 points and six rebounds in the win over UMass. Ganser is second on the team with a .722 free-throw percentage and first with 3.1 offensive rebounds per game. Her offensive rebounds mark is fourth in the Patriot League. In 2011-2012, she averaged 19.5 minutes of playing time and put up totals of 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Ganser also performed well from the charity stripe last year as she converted on 76.5 percent of her free throws, which was second best on the team.

SCOTT LEARNING QUICKLY FOR CRUSADERS: Freshman forward Raquel Scott has begun her first collegiate season as a key contributor for Holy Cross. In the first seven games, Scott is fifth on the team with 6.7 points and has 5.1 rebounds per contest. In her first start versus New Hampshire, Scott posted 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 36 minutes of action. Her best game of the season came at Manhattan, as the freshman recorded the first Crusaders double-double of the season with a 10 point and 12 rebound effort with six offensive boards.

FRESHMAN FRENZY: Holy Cross adds five new faces to this year's team with a large freshman class. Guards Lisa Mifsud (Erie, Pa.), Kate Gillespie (Washington, D.C.) and Jenn Walsh (Dallas, Texas) all were league champions for their respective high schools. Gillespie was also named Washington D.C. Gatorade girls basketball player of the year as a senior. In the front court, Raquel Scott and Molly Hourigan (Memphis, N.Y.) add size to an already tall front line. The 6'0" Scott comes from Immaculate Heart Academy, while the 6'4" Hourigan is the team's only center and is from Jordan-Elbridge. All five freshmen have seen action this season. Mifsud is averaging 3.7 points in 18.7 minutes per contest as she scored 11 points in the season opener versus Yale. Gillespie has made two starts for the Crusaders and averages 6.0 minutes per game.

OFF THE BENCH: With some early season injuries, many bench players have stepped up for the Crusaders. Senior forward Kaitlin Cole (Springfield, Pa.) has been a spark on the defensive side of the ball as she averages 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 14.6 minutes per game. Her steals mark is ninth in the Patriot League. In the Yale game, Cole posted career-highs with six rebounds and four steals, while versus Boston College, she also added a career-best three assists. She registered a career-high 28 minutes of action versus UMass to go along with four swipes. Sophomore forward Clare Sullivan (Belmont, Mass.) has averaged 9.9 minutes per contest with 4.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. In the game versus Central Connecticut, Sullivan scored 13 points in the first half on six-of-six shooting, which was a career-high. She also connected on her first collegiate three-pointer in the game versus the Blue Devils. Sullivan made her first career start versus Manhattan and scored six points. Alexis Nicholas (Jamaica, N.Y.) has seen an average of just over a minute of playing time this season and scored her first points of the season at Manhattan.

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the 2012-2013 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 70 points and one first place vote. Navy was chosen to finish first, receiving eight first-place votes as junior Jade Geif was voted preseason Patriot League Player of the Year. The Mids earned a league-high 89 points and was followed by American, who received six first place votes and 85 points. Army was picked fourth with 66 points and one first place vote, while Lehigh (58 points) and Lafayette (30 points) were selected fifth and sixth, respectively.  Bucknell and Colgate tied for seventh in the poll with 25 points each. 

LEPLEY AND SMITH NAMED 2012-2013 TEAM CAPTAINS: The two leading scorers for the Crusaders last year, Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) and Alex Smith were named captains for the 2012-2013 season. Smith is coming off first-team All-Patriot League honors last year as she started in all 34 games. She averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Her assist mark was tops in the Patriot League, while her points average was fifth. Lepley was named to the second-team All-Patriot League a season ago as she led the Crusaders with 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. Her points-per-game average was third in the Patriot League, while her field goal percentage of 0.499 was also third-best. In addition, both players were also selected to the 2012-2013 preseason All-Patriot League.   

CAPTAINS NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM: After coming off great campaigns a season ago, Lepley and Smith were chosen to the preseason All-Patriot League team in a vote by conference sports information directors and head coaches. The duo joins the team with Army senior forward Anna Simmers, and two juniors, American's Alexis Dobbs and Navy's Jade Geif. Lepley and Smith were key contributors to last-year's Patriot League runner-up finish as they started in all 34 games for the Crusaders. Also, the pair was selected to the Patriot League All-Tournament team last year.

HELP ME HELP YOU: Last season, Holy Cross was ranked ninth in the country and first in the Patriot League with 16.9 assists per contest and that largely had to do with junior guards Alex Smith and Brisje Malone. This year, the pair has combined for 68 of Holy Cross' 122 assists with a combined average of 9.7 per game. Malone is first in the Patriot League with 5.0 assists per game, while Smith is just behind her with 4.7 helpers per contest. In the game versus Central Connecticut, the pair combined for 14 assists on the team's 22 made field goals.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The Crusaders are approaching this season with the theme of "unfinished business," as it is looking to capture the Patriot League crown for the 12th time in the program's history. Last season, the Crusaders made it to the Patriot League championship game for the first time since 2008, after knocking off top-seeded American in the semifinals. However, the team fell to Navy in the title game, 57-48, one win shy of going to the NCAA Tournament. The goal is to get back into the Patriot League Championship game and claim their first NCAA tournament automatic bid since the 2006-2007 season.

1,000 POINTS MILESTONE IN REACH FOR PAIR: Lepley and Smith are on pace to reach the 1,000 career points milestone this season. Lepley is only 48 points shy from the historic mark and would become the 28th player to score 1,000 points. She is also in reach to finish her career in the top-15 on the all-time career points list. Smith is 144 points away from the 1,000 point milestone and would the 11th player to reach the mark during their junior season. Smith also has a chance to get into the top-20 on the all-time scoring list by season's end.

"SMITH"-SONIAN LEAVING MARK IN RECORD BOOK: Alex Smith is currently in the top-10 in three categories in the Holy Cross record book. Smith is second in career three-pointers made with 189, with Bethany O'Dell holding the record of 277 from 2006-2010. In the Central Connecticut game, Smith moved into the Patriot League's top-10 in made three-pointers. The conference's all-time leader, Alex Ross of Lehigh, made 286 three-pointers in her career. Another mark in the record book is Smith's 504 three-pointers attempted, which is fourth all-time behind O'Dell's 700 shots. In the game versus UMass, Smith jumped from sixth to fourth on the list. She is 17 three-point attempts away from passing the third place mark of 521 held by Anna Kinne. Smith is also fifth on the list in three-point percentage as she connects on 37.4 percent of her shots from behind the arc. She currently holds the Crusader single-season mark for three-pointers attempted with 227, which was accomplished last year. Also in 2011-12, Smith posted the second-best mark in the record book for three pointers converted with 85 treys. Smith is also the record holder with the most minutes played in a season with 1199 in 2011-12 and is tied for most games played in a season with 34, also accomplished last year.

HOLY CROSS' HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE: The Crusaders are coming off one of their best offensive seasons in recent years, as the team led the Patriot League in many shooting categories. Holy Cross led the conference with 2144 total points, which averaged to 63.1 points per contest. The Crusaders also held the best field goal percentage in the league as they connected on 41.3 percent of their shots. Holy Cross' three-point mark in the Patriot League was second only to Navy, as they hit 178 treys and converted on 32.6 percent of their shots from downtown. In the season opener against Yale, the Crusaders scored 87 points which was the most in an opening game since the 1988-89 season. The Crusaders are currently second in the Patriot League with 63.7 points per contest.

HOLY CROSS IN THE NCAA STATISTICS: The Crusaders are currently ranked in the top 150 in the NCAA Division I leaders in nine statistical categories. In addition, Alex Smith and Brisje Malone are in the top 125 in the nation in several individual statistics. The rankings through games on Dec. 2:

Category    Rank    Player/Team        Avg./Pct.
Personal Fouls 12   Holy Cross 12.4
Three-Pointers Made 17   Alex Smith 3.14

145   Holy Cross 5.0
Assists 18   Holy Cross 17.4
  57   Brisje Malone 5.0
  80   Alex Smith 4.7
Assist/Turnover Ratio 35   Brisje Malone 2.33
  36   Holy Cross 0.98
Field-Goal Percentage 51   Holy Cross 42.7
Three-Point Percentage 80   Alex Smith 38.6
  88   Holy Cross 32.4
Rebound Margin 115   Holy Cross 2.4
Win-Loss Percentage 134   Holy Cross 57.1
Turnovers 150   Holy Cross 17.7

FOR OPENERS:  With the win over Yale, Holy Cross owns a 22-17 record in its opening game of the season. This year was the 23rd time the Crusaders opened the regular season at the Hart Center. In season openers at the Hart Center, Holy Cross is now 13-10 and ended its three-game losing streak. The team won its first season-opener under the guidance of Bill Gibbons on Nov. 23, 1985 away at Eastern Michigan. Since Gibbons took over as head coach, the Crusaders stand at 17-11 in openers. Over the past 10 years, Holy Cross is 4-6 on opening day, defeating Providence (68-48, 2004-2005), Northeastern (76-60, 2005-2006) and most recently Yale (68-56, 2006-2007, 87-71, 2012-2013), while falling to St. Peter's (87-76, 2003-2004), Vermont (54-45, 2007-2008) and Yale (65-63, 2008-2009, 66-60, 2009-2010, 74-71, 2010-2011, 77-71, 2011-2012).

HOME SWEET HOME: Holy Cross boasts a very strong record when playing at the Hart Center. In the 37 years of the women's program, the Crusaders have an all-time record winning percentage of 0.750 when playing their games at home (345-120). Since Holy Cross went to Division I during the 1982-83 season, they hold an even better 0.763 winning percentage with a record of 306-95 at the Hart Center.

CRUSADERS HAVE 11 PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CROWNS: Five years ago, the Crusaders captured their 11th Patriot League Tournament Crown with a 56-48 victory over American on March 7, 2007. Holy Cross has won half of the 22 Patriot League Championships since the conference's inception during the 1990-91 season. The Crusaders' previous tournament titles came in 2005, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1993 and 1991. Holy Cross has also appeared in the championship game 11 times over the past 15 years. Overall the Crusaders have made a conference-record 16 appearances in the Patriot League championship game.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: On Saturday, Dec. 8, Holy Cross will travel to Hamden, Conn. to take on Quinnipiac at 1:00 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center. The contest will mark the seventh meeting between the two squads and will also be regionally broadcasted on the New England Sports Network (NESN).

GIBBONS AT THE HELM FOR 28TH SEASON: Bill Gibbons is in his 28th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program and 32nd as a member of the Holy Cross basketball family in 2012-2013. He has compiled a 519-304 record as head coach (.630 winning percentage), including a 19-15 record at the helm last season. He ranks 20th on the active Division I win leaders list after winning his 500th game on December 3, 2011. 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 11 Patriot League Championships in the last 22 years. He has also made 13 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments, one WNIT and one WBI) in his 27 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 515 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.

ON THE RADIO: Eleven of the Crusaders' basketball contests during the 2012-2013 season will be carried by Emmanuel Radio, WNEB 1230 AM in Worcester.  Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 26th season calling the play-by-play for Crusader basketball on the radio. In addition, Jeremy Lechan and Dick Lutsk are in their ninth year on the Holy Cross broadcast crew, and will handle either play-by-play or color commentary for selected games. All games aired on Emmanuel Radio can also be heard live over the internet at 'www.1230radio.com'. Most games not carried on Emmanuel Radio will be streamed by Stretch Internet free of charge, with links to the broadcasts available at 'www.GoHolyCross.com'. WCHC 88.1 FM, the Holy Cross student station, will also carry a number of games this year.

ON TELEVISION: Holy Cross will have at least four games shown on live television during the 2012-2013 season. The Crusaders had seven television appearances last year, while appearing on television five times in 2010-11 and six times in 2009-10. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2012-2013 season:

Date, Opponent, Television Outlet

Dec. 8, at Quinnipiac, New England Sports Network
Jan. 16, vs. Navy, Charter TV3
Feb. 10, at Lehigh, CBS Sports Network
Feb. 27, vs. Army, Charter TV3

PATRIOT LEAGUE ALL-ACCESS: Live video streaming of most Patriot League regular season games during the 2012-2013 season will be available 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".

CRUSADER VISION: Live video streaming of most 2012-2013 Holy Cross home non-conference games will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available for $8.95 per game. Season packages are also available for men's basketball only ($29.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, visit 'www.GoHolyCross.com'.

ON THE INTERNET: Information on Crusader basketball and all 26 other varsity sports is available through the Holy Cross Athletics home page at "www.GoHolyCross.com". In addition, links to Holy Cross basketball audio broadcasts and live video streaming can be found on the home page. Updates on Holy Cross Athletics can also be found at "www.facebook.com/HolyCrossAthletics" and "www.twitter.com/GoHolyCross".

EMAIL ALERTS: Get all the latest news and results on the Holy Cross women's basketball team sent directly to your e-mail. To sign up for e-mail alerts, visit 'www.GoHolyCross.com/list-signup'.

SCOUTING NORTHEASTERN

2012-2013 SQUAD:
Northeastern has a 4-2 record overall and is currently riding a three-game winning streak, with victories over Boston University (73-62), Dartmouth (80-45) and NJIT (59-45). The Huskies are currently tied for fourth in the CAA in overall record.  Northeastern was selected sixth in the CAA preseason poll as senior guard Deanna Kerkhof was named to the preseason All-CAA first team. Junior forward Jewel Tunstull earned a preseason All-CAA honorable mention spot. Kerkhof currently leads the team with 15.5 points per game is ranks second on the squad with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Tunstull averages 12.5 points, which is third on the team, as she leads Northeastern with 7.7 caroms per game.  

HEAD COACH:
Head Coach Daynia La-Force is in her seventh season at the helm of the Huskies. She is 60-123 as the coach of Northeastern, leading the team to the CAA quarterfinals in three consecutive seasons (2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010). La-Force has compiled a 35-73 record in conference play with two sixth place finishes in the CAA. Before Northeastern, La-Force coached one season at the University of New Haven as she piloted the Chargers to a 24-7 overall record and a trip to to the Women's Division II Basketball Tournament after placing first in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference.