Crusaders Battle For First Place On Sunday

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Jan. 29, 2005

DATE: Sunday, January 30, 2005
TIME: 1:00 p.m. EST
LOCATION: Worcester, Mass.
ARENA: Hart Center
Lehigh 14-5 (6-0 Patriot League)
Holy Cross 11-8 (6-0 Patriot League)

SERIES HISTORY: Holy Cross, 29-4
LAST MEETING: Lehigh, 79-70 (Last season at the Hart Center)
STREAK: Lehigh - 1

TALENT: Jeremy Lechan

G - #10 Sarah Placek, Jr., 5-3, 9.4 ppg, 2.9 apg
G - #05 Laura Aloisi, Fr., 5-9, 3.4 ppg, 5.0 apg
G - #34 Maggie Fontana, Sr., 5-11, 8.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F - #33 Brittany Keil, So., 6-2, 9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg
C - #00 Lisa Andrews, Sr., 6-3, 12.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg
G - #23 Jessica Conte, Jr., 5-7, 6.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg
G - #11 Caitlin Agostinacchio, Sr., 5-9, 1.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
G - #15 Shannon Bush, Jr., 5-11, 4.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
C - #31 Ashley Brennan-McBride, So., 6-5, 1.8 ppg, 0.6 rpg
F - #13 Ashley McLaughlin, Fr., 6-1, 4.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
F - #52 Kaitlin Foley, So., 6-4, 3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg

Holy Cross owns a 29-4 series advantage over Lehigh, and is 13-2 when playing at the Hart Center. Holy Cross won the first 26 of 27 match-ups between the two schools, but since the 2001-2002 season, Lehigh has won three out of the last six meetings.

Maggie Fontana, Lisa Andrews and the since-graduated Patty Fitzgerald combined for 52 points to lead the Crusaders to a thrilling 71-68 victory over the Mountain Hawks at Stabler Arena on January 30. Lehigh got a game-high 23 points from First Team All-PL selection Jessica DePalo and 21 points from All-Rookie Team member Sara Ellis, but the Mountain Hawks could not overcome the 36-27 halftime deficit. In the second game, four Crusaders were in double-figures, but it was not enough as Lehigh's Jana Ransom poured in a game-high 27 points, DePalo went for 26 and Ellis tallied 12 for the Mountain Hawks, who won 79-70 at the Hart Center on February 29.

Holy Cross is currently on a six-game winning streak, which is its longest of the year. The last time the Crusaders won six or more games consecutively was during the 2002-03 season when they posted a six-game winning streak mid-season, followed by a 12-game winning streak down the stretch. HC went 24-8 that year, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Holy Cross has held its last three opponents (Lafayette, American, Navy) to 48 points or less, marking the first time all season the Crusaders have held three straight opponents to under 50 points. On Friday, the Crusaders forced 27 Lafayette turnovers and held the Leopards to 37% from the field for the game. Last weekend HC held Navy to just 30.9% shooting from the floor, while forcing 25 turnovers and coming up with 11 steals, and at American the Crusaders bothered the Eagles to a 1-for-11 performance from behind the arc, and 32.8 FG% for the game. Earlier this season, HC held Providence and Buffalo to 42 points or less in back-to-back games in November and held URI and Siena to 56 points or less in back-to-back games in December. The Crusaders are 9-0 this season when holding their opponents to 60 points or less.

Holy Cross has an all-time record of 246-53 at the Hart Center, including a 5-3 mark at home so far this season. HC has posted a record of 43-15 at home over the course of the last four seasons.

With eight regular season games left, senior Lisa Andrews (Concord, Mass.) is just 51 points away from reaching the 1,000 point plateau. Andrews is averaging 12.4 ppg and has put up 18.0 ppg over the last six games. The 6-foot-3 center is currently ranked third in the League in scoring (league games only).

After a tough start to the season, senior Maggie Fontana (Barrington, Ill.) is starting to come on for the Crusaders, averaging 15.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg the past three games. Fontana went for 14 points and six rebounds Friday night against Lafayette and scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds last weekend at Navy and American. The 5-foot-11 guard/forward has shot 62% (18-for-29) from the field and 87% (7-for-8) from the foul line the last three outings.

According to the January 24 release, freshman guard Laura Aloisi (Nashua, N.H.) was ranked 42nd in the nation in assists per game, with 5.1 per outing. The 5-foot-9 Aloisi picked up four more set-ups on Friday night and currently leads the team and the League with 81 assists through 16 games (5.0 apg) and 30 assists through six league games (5.0 apg). In the 16 games she has played in, Aloisi has led the team in assists in 10 games this season, and tied for first in that category in three other games, giving her the top spot in 13 of 16 games. Her 11 assist perfomance against UMass on 11/23 and her 10 helpers vs. Providence on 11/19 stand as PL-bests this season.

Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons continues to move up the history charts, having picked up his 404th career win after a 70-48 win over Lafayette on Friday. Gibbons is the winningest basketball coach (men's or women's) in the history of Holy Cross . The 20th year coach is also currently ranked 37th among active Division I women's basketball coaches by number of victories. Gibbons captured his 100th, 200th, and 400th career wins on his first try. It took the Worcester, Mass. native two games to notch his 300th win in 2000.

The Crusaders are on a six game winning streak and are currently 11-8 (6-0 Patriot League) going into today's match-up with the only other undefeated team in the Patriot League, Lehigh. The Crusaders are 5-3 at home this year and have a 3-2 record when they play during the day. HC is also 2-2 when playing on Sundays this season and is 6-2 in January thus far.
Lehigh stands atop the Patriot League with the Crusaders with a 6-0 conference mark and a 14-5 overall record. The Mountain Hawks are riding a three-game winning streak and are most recently coming off a 72-64 win at Army on Thursday.

The Crusaders won their sixth straight game after a 70-48 win over afayette on Friday at the Hart Center. Senior Lisa Andrews scored a game-high 16 points, grabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots and handed out three assists. Fellow senior Maggie Fontana also had a big night with her second-straight 14-point game. Fontana also pulled down six boards, had three assists and a steal. Junior Jessica Conte (New Canaan, Conn.) recorded a game-high four steals, to go along with nine points, two assists and two rebounds, while freshman Ashley McLaughlin (Andover, Mass.) tied for team-high honors with six rebounds. Freshman guard Laura Aloisi added to her league-leading assists total with four helpers, while sophomore Brittany Keil and junior Shannon Bush chipped in six points apiece. The Crusaders had all 11 players in the scoring column. Fontana and Andrews combined for 26 of the Crusaders' 35 points at intermission as HC went into the break up 13 (35-22). The Crusaders defense and sharp long-range shooting (6-of-15) allowed them to break away in the second half, as HC built a 20-point lead with just over six minutes remaining. Holy Cross enjoyed a 23-9 points-off-turnovers advantage as they led from start to finish.

The Crusaders have two more games at the Hart Center next weekend, as they play host to Navy on February 4 and American on February 6.

Lehigh comes into this afternoon's game with a league-best overall record of 14-5 and is tied for the top spot in the League with the Crusaders at 6-0. The Moutain Hawks are on a three-game winning streak and are most recently coming off an eight point win (72-64) over Army on Thursday. Lehigh is led by the League's top scorer (all games) and Preseason Co-Player of the Year pick Jessica DePalo (Rumson, N.J.). The 6-foot-1 senior F/C is averaging more than 18 points per game and pulling down 5.2 rebounds each outing. DePalo is also the team's leading shot blocker with eight rejections on the season. DePalo's support staff consists of 5-foot-9 senior guard Mary Hynoski (Elysburg, Pa.), who is averaging a double-double with 10.7 rpg and 10.2 ppg. The Moutain Hawks also boast 5-foot-9 sophomore guard and 2003-04 PL All-Rookie Team selection Sara Ellis (Bellefontaine, Ohio) who is putting up 13.5 ppg. In addition, 6-foot-1 junior forward Jenny Callan (Lisle, Ill.) is putting up 9.5 ppg and 7.8 rpg. Callan is coming off a 16-rebound, 11-point performance at Army on Thursday.

Holy Cross is currently 6-0 in conference play after a 70-48 win over Lafayette on Friday. Twentieth-year head coach Bill Gibbons has compiled a 159-29 (.845) record in Patriot League play, including HC's 6-0 mark this year. Gibbons also has six Patriot League Coach of the Year awards and has led his teams to 10 regular season titles and nine championship titles.

Sophomore Brittany Keil, and junior Jessica Conte (New Canaan, Conn.) occupy two of the top four spots in 3-point field goal pct. among Patriot League players (all games). Through January 27 games, Keil ranked first in the League, shooting an impressive 48.9% (22 for 45), followed by the fourth-place Conte at 36.5% (19 for 52). Junior guard Sarah Placek (Alexandria, Va.) ranked 8th (34.4%; 22 for 64).

Senior Lisa Andrews is shooting a team-best 82.5% (47-for-57) from the foul line. Sophomore Brittany Keil is also converting on better than 78%, having made 26-of-33 free throws. As a team, the Crusaders rank first among Patriot League schools (all games and conference games) with a 73.6 free throw percentage. Through 19 games, Crusader players have made good on 215 of 292 attempts.

Lisa Andrews is currently ranked second (all games and conference games) among Patriot League players in blocked shots. The 6-foot-4 center has turned away a team-leading 30 shots so far this season, including three Friday night vs. Lafayette. Andrews is averaging 1.57 blocks per game. She finished last season ranked 21st in the country with 2.5 blocks per outing.

The Crusaders are 6-0 when outrebounding their opponents, and just 5-8 when their opponents win the battle of the boards. The Crusaders have been outrebounded in 14 of 19 games this season, including a streak of eight straight games where HC opponents pulled down more boards.

Senior guard Maggie Fontana is moving up in a number of all-time Holy Cross statistics lists. Fontana recently passed Ann Lambiotte (`91) in scoring and is currently ranked ninth with 1,403 points. She is five steals away from breaking into the Top 3 (233), and she is just 12 rebounds away from moving into the Top 10 in that category (686). Fontana is also steadily climbing the all-time Patriot League charts in a number of categories. The 5-foot-11 Illinois native is currently ranked 11th in assists (393), 18th in points (1,403) and 18th in rebounds (686). With her three rejections against Lafayette on January 28, Lisa Andrews moved into the third slot in all-time blocked shots (176) in both Patriot League and Holy Cross history. Former HC player Karen Juda `96 occupies the second spot for both with 194 blocks.

Seniors Lisa Andrews and Maggie Fontana are the only two HC players who have recorded double-doubles this season. Andrews went for 17 points and 13 boards in a 67-48 win over American on January 23 and 12 points and 10 boards in a 64-56 win at Siena on December 9. Fontana tallied 10 points and 10 boards in a one-point loss to UAB on November 26.

Senior center Lisa Andrews earned her second Patriot League Player of the Week honor on January 17 after leading the Crusaders to a 2-0 week vs. Colgate and Army in which she averaged 21.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg, and blocked three shots. Freshman guard Laura Aloisi was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors (Nov. 29) just one week after Andrews earned her first Player of the Week (Nov. 22) nod. Aloisi was recognized for her performances in the Iona (six assists, three steals), UAB (career-high 14 points), and UMass games (career-high 11 assists). Andrews tallied 19 points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal vs. Buffalo two days after a 12-point, five rebounds, two steals and a block in the home opener against Providence.

The February 19 game featuring Holy Cross and Colgate, which will be played at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass., is the only Patriot League regular season women's game slated for CSTV. College Sports Television will also broadcast the March 3 PL Quarterfinals and the March 9 PL Championship game.

Ten-time Patriot League regular-season champion Holy Cross was picked to win the 2004-2005 Patriot League regular-season title in a pre-season vote of the League's head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders tied last season's regular season champion Colgate with five first place votes, but amassed 84 total points, edging the Raiders by two (coaches and SIDs were not allowed to vote for their own team). American finished third with 72 points, followed by Lehigh (68), Bucknell (55), Army (36), Navy (27), and Lafayette (19). In other voting, Colgate senior Emily Braseth and Lehigh senior Jessica DePalo were chosen as the Pre-Season Co-Players of the Year. They are joined on the Pre-Season All-League team by Holy Cross senior guard Maggie Fontana, Bucknell sophomore guard Lindsey Hollobaugh and American senior forward Chanel Hunt. Braseth and DePalo were First Team selections last season, while Fontana and Hunt were second-team picks. Hollobaugh earned Rookie of the Year honors.

2003-2004 HONORS:
Joining Fontana on the All-Patriot League Second Team was center Lisa Andrews. Andrews led the League in blocks (69), and was ranked 21st in the country with 2.5 blocks per game. She also finished the season ranked 28th in the country in field goal pct. (.541). Brittany Keil also earned League accolades last season. The 6-foot-2 guard was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team after a strong freshman campaign. Keil played in all 28 Crusader games, and started 15. She averaged 4.7 ppg and 3.6 rpg, to go along with 28 steals and 21 blocks.

2004-05 CAPTAINS:
Seniors Caitlin Agostinacchio, Lisa Andrews, and Maggie Fontana are the 2004-2005 Holy Cross captains. Agostinacchio, who also plays volleyball for HC, recorded 396 kills this season, giving her 1,063 for her career, which is a school-best. She also tallied 250 digs (908 career). Andrews averaged 14.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 2.5 bpg last season, earning Second Team All-Patriot League honors. Her 2.5 blocks per game was good for 21st nationally. She was also ranked 28th in the nation in field goal percentage (.541). Fontana also earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors last year. She finished last season ranked in the PL Top 10 in seven different categories, and also scored her 1,000th career point against Furman on December 29.