February 9, 2009

Women's Basketball Travels To Army On Wednesday Night

Feb. 9, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: Holy Cross (10-13, 5-3 PL) vs. Army (14-9, 4-4 PL)
Date: February 11, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Christl Arena (5,034; West Point, N.Y.)
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; www.worcesterpike.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play
Army Radio:
Rich DeMarco, play-by-play; color, Bob Beretta; WBNR (1260-AM), Beacon, N.Y.; WLNA (1420-AM), Peekskill, N.Y.
Live Video Streaming: www.goarmysports.com
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 28-13
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 57, Army 41 (January 14, 2009; Worcester, Mass.)

PROBABLE HOLY CROSS STARTERS:
Pos. No.  Name                     Ht.  Cl.  PPG  RPG
F     33    Whitney Fremeau   5-10 So. 7.7   4.7
F     30    Elizabeth Campbell  6-3  So.  6.2  3.6
G     3     Christy Cushnie       5-9  Jr.  2.8   2.2  
G    14    Briana McFadden    5-10  Jr. 15.7  4.7
G    44    Bethany O'Dell        5-8   Jr.  11.6  4.1

THE SERIES WITH ARMY: This will be the 42nd meeting between the Crusaders and the Black Knights on the hardwood, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series, 28-13. Last time out, the Crusaders ended a seven-game losing streak to Army, posting a 57-41 victory in Worcester on Jan. 14. For games played in West Point, Holy Cross leads the series at Christl Arena with a 10-8 record. The Crusaders look to pick their first road win over host Army after dropping the last four games in a row, including the Patriot League Championship game held at West Point, N.Y., in which the Black Knights edged Holy Cross, 69-68, on March 8, 2006. Should the Crusaders win against Army on Wednesday, it will be the first time Holy Cross has swept the regular season series since the 2004-2005 season. The last time Holy Cross won at Army was on Feb. 26, 2005, posting a 74-61 league victory.

SERIES QUICK FACTS:
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 28-13
In West Point: Holy Cross leads, 10-8
At Christl Arena: Holy Cross leads, 10-8
Bill Gibbons vs. Army: 28-13
Dave Magarity vs. Holy Cross: 4-1
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game

GIBBONS CLOSES IN ON 200: With a career Patriot League record of 197-55 (.782), head coach Bill Gibbons is just three victories away from his 200th win in league play. Should Gibbons reach this mark, he will be the first coach in women’s basketball league history to collect 200 wins in Patriot League play. Gibbons is currently the winningest coach in league history, coaching Holy Cross in all 18 years in the Patriot League.

CRUSADERS TAKE ON THE LEAGUE: Currently 5-3 in the Patriot League, junior guards Bethany O’Dell (Lincoln, R.I.) and Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) have continued to be two of the strongest players in league play. Against league opponents, McFadden is averaging 38.0 minutes played, 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team high 2.8 assists while O’Dell averages 33.0 minutes played, 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Sophomore forward Elizabeth Campbell (Louisville, K.Y.) returns to league play, following a strong debut season last year. Appearing in all eight games and making two starts, Campbell is averaging a team-high 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while adding 9.3 points. Stepping into the starting role this year is sophomore forward/guard Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) who has started in all eight Patriot League games. She currently averages 7.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 26.9 minutes played. Making seven appearances and starting in six league games, senior center Kathy Gruzynski (Elk Grove, Ill.) is averaging 6.3 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Briana McFadden NAMED PATRIOT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Briana McFadden has been named the women’s basketball Baden Patriot League Player of the Week, for competition from Feb. 2-8. McFadden led the Crusaders with 26 points as the Crusaders picked up an 82-64 league victory over Lafayette at the Hart Center on Saturday, Feb. 7. This is the third player of the week honor McFadden has received in her career. In addition to scoring 26 points for Holy Cross, McFadden finished with four rebounds and two assists as the Crusaders picked up their fifth Patriot League win of the season, sweeping the regular season series against Lafayette. The victory also marked the fifth game this season that McFadden had scored 20 points or more. McFadden leads the league in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game and also ranks second in minutes played (37.4) and fourth in free throw percentage (.825). For Holy Cross, she ranks first in scoring, rebounds (4.7) and assists (2.4) as well as second on the team in steals (1.3).

SECOND HALF OF LEAGUE PLAY UNDERWAY: After starting the second half of league play on Saturday, Feb. 7, the Crusaders swept the regular season series against Lafayette with an 82-64 win at the Hart Center. Holy Cross looks to pick up its sixth league win and sweep the regular season series versus Army on Wednesday, after winning 57-41 in the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 14.

SCORING DUO SHARE 1,000 POINT SUCCESS: Junior guards Briana McFadden and Bethany O’Dell have shared major success throughout their three years as teammates and clearly, they’re far from finished. Both McFadden and O’Dell reached the 1,000 milestone this season with McFadden reaching the mark against Army on Jan. 14 and O’Dell scoring her 1,000 point versus Lafayette on Feb. 7. McFadden and O’Dell are the first two classmates in women’s basketball school history to reach the 1,000 point mark together as juniors. They also are the eighth and ninth players to score 1,000 points as juniors. Ann Lambiotte and Mary Helen Walker, both graduates from 1991, reached the 1,000 point mark as classmates. Former teammates of McFadden and O’Dell, Kaitlyn Foley and Brittany Keil also both reached the marks in their senior during the 2006-2007 season.

DEFENSE CONTAINS LEAGUE’S SCORING EFFORTS: Holy Cross’ win against Lafayette on Jan. 10 and win over Army on Jan. 14 marked the least amount of points scored by an opponent in a half in six seasons. On Nov. 29, 2002, the Crusaders held Savannah State to 11 points in the first half, going on to win, 74-39. In the Patriot League season-opener at Lafayette, the Crusaders held the host Leopards to just 12 points. At home against the Black Knights, Holy Cross only allowed Army to put 12 points on the scoreboard in the first half. Against Navy on Jan. 21, the Crusaders allowed the Mids to put up just 15 points on the scoreboard in the first half. The all-time school record of least amount of points allowed in a half was against was 10 points against Lafayette on Jan. 7, 1995 and Army on Jan. 20, 1996.

HC MAKES NCCA LISTS: The charity stripe lands Holy Cross on the NCAA team list for free throw percentage through games of Feb. 9., ranking 22nd with 74.9%. Bethany O’Dell’s success beyond the arc has her ranked 50th among the national leaders for three-point field goals made, averaging 2.3 three-pointers per game.

WHAT A STEAL: With 181 steals on the season, Holy Cross is taking advantage of any lose ball within reach. As a team, the Crusaders rank third and are averaging 7.9 steals per game with Bethany O’Dell grabbing the top spot on the team with 33 (1.4 per game). Briana McFadden follows with 30 steals per game and Alyssa May adds 22 to the Crusaders’ total. CRUSADERS STRAINED BY INJURIES: Holy Cross has been struck with serious injuries throughout the 2008-2009 season, but still been able to put up big wins with a short bench. Five of the Crusaders’ starters have missed a total of 45 games on the season. Junior forward Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.) had her season cut short after suffering a season-ending injury against Western Illinois on Nov. 30. Bethany O’Dell also missed four games after getting hurt during the Connecticut game on Dec. 3 and at Colgate on Jan. 28. Alyssa May also suffered from an injury this year when Holy Cross played Drexel on Dec. 28. She missed nine games but returned to the floor on Jan. 24. Another starter is on the bench for the rest of the season as Jessica Pearson was injured versus Army on Jan. 14. The most recent injury to fall upon the Crusaders is Kathy Gruzynski, who suffered a minor injury at practice during the week of Feb. 1-7. Her return is day-to-day.

UNDERDOGS WITH A BIG BITE: In seven of Holy Cross’ 10 wins this season, the Crusaders have had a worse record than their opponent, including three Patriot League teams they’ve faced. Holy Cross downed Missouri, Drexel, Dartmouth, Bryant, Lafayette, Army and Bucknell. Headed in Wednesday’s game, the Black Knights will have the upper hand for the second team this season with a 14-9 record. Maine was the only team that Holy Cross defeated this season that had the same record when the two teams competed. The Crusaders had the upper hand in two wins this year with a better record when they played Colgate on Jan. 28 and Lafayette on Feb. 7.

BUILDING BLOCKS: Elizabeth Campbell has had sophomore success blocking the opponents attempts at the hoop. Campbell has already reached the top 10 at Holy Cross in the career-list for blocks with 61 currently on her career. Campbell needs eight more blocks to tie Katie O’Keefe (199-2003) for ninth place on the list.

CHARITY STRIPE SUCCESS: Holy Cross has made its shots from the free-throw line count during the 2008-2009 season, currently topping the league, shooting .749 percent from the charity stripe. Outstanding free throw shooter, Briana McFadden, is fourth in the league, converting 127-of-154 attempts for a .825 percentage. McFadden’s success at the line ranks on Holy Cross career lists sixth in free throws made (348) and ninth in free throws attempted (429), just two shy of tying Mary Helen Walker (1987-1991).SPARK FROM BEYOND THE ARC: Three-point range has always been a strength for Holy Cross and this year not much hasn’t changed for Bethany O’Dell. Her current career records say it all as she broke the women’s basketball school record on Jan. 7 for three-point field goals made, sinking her 180th career shot from long range, surpassing Jeanette Paukert (1998-2002), who finished her career with 179. O’Dell is also currently ranked second at Holy Cross in three-point field goals attempted with 496, behind Anna Kinne (1996-2000), who finished her career with 521 attempts. Climbing up the Patriot League career leaders list, O’Dell’s current career three-pointers made total (198) ranks her sixth on the list. She is just four shy of tying Army’s Jen Hansen (2004-2007). The only active player on the list, she joins Paukert as the second Crusader to make this list. She currently averages 2.3 three-pointers a game, placing her second in the league and is also ranked fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.360). Briana McFadden is also making her mark on career lists from long range this season. She is currently ranked sixth all-time at Holy Cross for three-point field goals made with 129, 12 three-pointers shy of tying Alison Dietz (1994-1998). McFadden also holds the sixth spot on in career three-point field goals attempted with 423.

THE GO-TO GIRL: Briana McFadden continues to be strong on offense this season, leading the Crusaders in scoring in 14 of 23 games. She is the third Patriot League player with more than 300 points this season and currently tops the league in scoring with 15.7 points per game. McFadden scored a career-high 31 points against Missouri on Nov. 29 during the Double Tree White Invitational. She also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds against Bucknell on Jan. 17. Her season has also been highlighted by six games in which she scored 20 points or more: 31 against Missouri, 26 against Lafayette, 24 points against Yale and Drexel, 22 against Maine and 21 versus Boston College. McFadden etched her named into the Holy Cross history books last season as she tied the single-game record for free throw percentage (1.000, 11-for-11) and consecutive free throws made (11). Starting in all 32 games, McFadden totaled 431 points, 124 rebounds, 50 assists, 30 steals and 12 blocks. Averaging 13.5 points per game, McFadden led the Crusaders in scoring in 14 games last season, including eight Patriot League games.

THE LAST MEETING WITH ARMY: Briana McFadden scored her 1,000 point as she scored 13 points to lead the Holy Cross women’s basketball team to a 57-41 win over Army in Patriot League play at the Hart Center on Jan. 14. With the win, Holy Cross also snapped a seven-game losing streak against Army. After holding a slight 7-4 lead, Holy Cross went on a 9-0 run, led by McFadden with four points. Scoreless for almost 10 minutes, the Black Knights cut their deficit to 12 points (18-6), but Holy Cross had the upper hand in the final scoring of the half, leading with a 9-6 run to close out the half ahead by 15 points, 27-12. The Crusaders grabbed their largest lead just over five minutes into the second half, pushing ahead by 19 points (39-20) as McFadden hit two shots from the free throw line. With 5:11 left to play in the game, Army fought back to get within nine points (44-35) of Holy Cross, with Megan Ennenga scoring four points and Alex McGuire sinking a three-pointer. Elizabeth Campbell scored all of her eight points of the game in a 13-6 run by Holy Cross to close out the game, securing a 57-41 victory. Holy Cross’ defense smothered the Black Knights’ offensive attempts throughout the game, holding Army to shooting 20.0% (13-65) from the floor while the Crusaders finished 21-for-46 (45.7%). Holy Cross also detained the Black Knights from outside the arc, allowing just two of 12 attempts. In addition to her 13 points, McFadden finished with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals while Bethany O’Dell had 11 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Campbell led the team in rebounds with nine and in blocks with six while grabbing three steals. Erin Anthony had 12 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and one steal for Army.

O’DELL KEEPS CAREER RIGHT ON TRACK: Starting in 21 games so far this year, Bethany O’Dell has led the Crusaders in scoring six times with a season-high 23 points two times (Western Illinois on Nov. 15; Bucknell on Jan. 17), 15 points versus St. Peter’s (Nov. 25), Bryant (Jan. 7) and Lafayette (Jan. 10) and 13 against Northeastern on Dec. 22. O’Dell has also pulled down a team-high in rebounds in four games. In her performance against Bucknell, O’Dell turned the table on a 29-18 Crusader deficit, scoring all 11 points of an 11-3 run by Holy Cross. After being fouled on a successful layup, O’Dell hit the extra shot from the free throw line, putting the Crusaders ahead by one point at halftime, 32-31. O’Dell has also reached the 1,000 point milestone this year, reaching the mark during the game against Lafayette at the Hart Center on Feb. 7 O’Dell is one of the many Crusaders that have hit new career-highs this season including field goals attempted (16), three-pointers attempted (14), rebounds (nine) and three-pointers made (seven). Versus Boston College, O’Dell tallied 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. In 26 minutes played against Bryant, O’Dell finished with 15 points, a career-high nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Against Maine, she finished with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 37 minutes played. O’Dell is also coming off a stellar sophomore year, starting in all 32 games, and finishing with 364 points, 146 rebounds, 80 assists, 54 steals and four blocks. O’Dell had success from long range last year, as she ranked third in the Patriot League in three-point field goal percentage (.382) and three-point field goals made (1.97 per game).

THE LEADER OF THE PACK: Holy Cross holds the record for the most Patriot League tournament titles won, winning 11 of the 18 league titles. During its 18 seasons in the Patriot League, Holy Cross has finished the regular season in first place 11 times. The Crusaders have also been greatly recognized for their efforts by the league, having eight players named the Patriot League Player of the Year. This list includes: Mary Helen Walker (90-91), Norinne Powers (91-92, 92-93), Laurie Carson (93-94), Lauren Maney (94-95, 95-96), Kathy Courtney (96-97), Amy O’Brien (97-98, 98-99), Anna Kinne (99-00) and Briana McFadden (07-08). Holy Cross has also had two players named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year: Maggie Fontana (01-02) and Bethany O’Dell (06-07).

FREMEAU REMAINS STRONG IN STARTING ROLE: Whitney Fremeau has made 20 starts in Holy Cross’ 22 games. Fremeau has had plenty of success so far as she has had new career-highs in minutes played (34), points (15), field goal attempts (13), rebounds (11), field goals (seven), free throws attempts (three), blocks (three) three-pointers made (two). Fremeau’s best performance this season was against Rhode Island on Dec. 9 in which she recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and played a career-high 34 minutes. Against Missouri, she finished with a career-high 15 points in 30 minutes played. In the Crusaders’ win over Maine, Fremeau finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal in 31 minutes played. On the road against Colgate on Jan. 28, Fremeau finished with 12 points, a team-high seven rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes played. At home versus Navy, Fremeau led the team in scoring with 12 points and had a career-high three blocks, two rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes played. Against Lehigh on Jan. 31, she tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes played. Fremeau made her first collegiate start on Nov. 15 versus Yale and put up nine points and eight rebounds while grabbing two steals, one assist and one block in 26 minutes played. She has led the Crusaders in rebounds in four games and in scoring in three games. Appearing in 25 games last year, Fremeau totaled 42 points, 20 rebounds, 16 assists, 11 steals and two blocks.

THAT’S MINE!!!: Holy Cross has forced 393 turnovers in 23 games, averaging 17.0 per game. Against Bryant on Jan. 7, the Crusaders forced a season-high 27 turnovers. In the season-opener against Yale, Holy Cross forced 24 turnovers, matching last year’s season-high. The Crusaders caused 22 turnovers against Northeastern on Dec. 22 and against Maine on Jan. 2. Against Missouri on Nov. 29 and Boston College on Nov. 18, the Crusaders had 21 forced turnovers. The Crusaders caused 24 turnovers in a game three times during the 07-08 season: at Yale on Jan. 6, 2008, at Navy on Jan. 23, 2008 and against Colgate on Jan. 30, 2008. Overall last year, Holy Cross forced 16.9 turnovers per game.

CAMPBELL LOOKING FORWARD: Elizabeth Campbell has returned to the Crusaders’ frontcourt for the 2008-2009 campaign, appearing in 23 games and making six starts. Campbell currently leads the team in blocks with 23 (1.1 per game), ranking her sixth in the Patriot League. In first start since Dec. 22, 2008, Campbell scored a career-high 19 points in her start against Lehigh on Jan. 31 while adding seven rebound, two assist and two blocks in 31 minutes played. Against Lafayette on Feb. 7, she went a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free throw line for 12 points while tallying five rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 28 minutes played. In her performance against Army on Jan. 14, Campbell scored all of her eight points in the final four minutes of the game against the Black Knights, leading a 13-6 run to secure the win over the Army. She also recorded a career-high six blocks and finished with season-highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (three) in 20 minutes played versus Army. In the game against Maine, she played 30 minutes and scored a career-high 16 points. Campbell played a season-high 33 minutes and grabbed six rebounds versus Drexel during the Hawk Tournament Classic on Dec. 28. At Lafayette on Jan. 10, Campbell finished with 12 points, three rebounds, two steals and one assist in 19 minutes played. In 26 minutes played at Dartmouth, she finished with eight points and season-highs in rebounds (seven) and blocks (three). Campbell played 22 minutes and tallied nine points at Rhode Island. Following an outstanding debut season, she was named to the 2007-2008 Patriot League All-Rookie Team.

CUSHNIE MOVES FROM BENCH TO STARTING ROLE: Junior guard Christy Cushnie (Vienna, Va.) has made her minutes off the bench count for the Crusaders, appearing in 22 games and averaging 15.9 minutes on the floor. She also moved into the starting lineup, making six starts this season, all against league opponents. In her strongest start of the season, Cushnie played a career-high 36 minutes and finished with nine points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals at Colgate on Jan. 28. During her start at home against Bucknell, she played 30 minutes and finished with seven points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. In her start against Navy on Jan. 21, Cushnie played a season-high 33 minutes and had five points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. In her start against American on Jan. 24, Cushnie finished with five points, four rebounds, two steals and one assist in 31 minutes played. Cushnie played 27 minutes off the bench against Army on Jan. 14, finishing with six points, six rebounds, a season-high three assists and one steal. Versus Maine on Jan. 2, she grabbed a career-high three steals and pulled down three rebounds.

MAY GETS BACK INTO ACTION: Sophomore forward/guard Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) has battled back from an injury she suffered on Dec. 28 versus Drexel in which she missed nine games. During most recent appearance, May finished with 27 minutes played, the most minutes she’s played since returning, and matched her career-high in assists (five) and steals (three) against Lafayette on Feb. 7. She returned to the floor on Jan. 24 at American, finishing the game with five points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal in 23 minutes played. At Colgate on Jan. 28, May finished with seven points, four rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes played. Playing her first game at the Hart Center since her injury, May played 26 minutes on the floor, tallying five points, three rebounds, three assist and two steals against Lehigh on Jan. 31.

SNAP THOSE STREAKS!: With Holy Cross’ win over Army on Jan. 14, the Crusaders snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Black Knights, which included the Patriot League Championship game on March 8, 2006 at West Point, N.Y. The last victory recorded by Holy Cross was on Jan. 3, 2003, defeating the host Black Knights, 66-58. With the win in Worcester, Holy Cross also ended Army’s five-game winning streak. At Lafayette on Jan. 10, the Crusaders ended a six-game home winning streak for the Leopards, marking the second-best winning streak in their school’s history.

HC RECOGNIZES NATIONAL GIRLS & WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY: The Holy Cross women’s basketball team will be supporting National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Saturday, February 21, during the Crusaders Patriot League contest versus American at 1:00 p.m. In addition to the NGWSD celebration, Holy Cross will be taking for donations for the Kay Yow/WBCA Breast Cancer Fund and Think Pink, a global initiative that helps raise breast cancer awareness on and off the court. Donations will be collected throughout the game to support breast cancer research.

LAFAYETTE RECAP: Bethany O’Dell scored her 1,000 career point, finishing with 21 points as the Holy Cross women’s basketball downed Lafayette, 82-64 in Patriot League action at the Hart Center on Saturday afternoon. Briana McFadden led the team in scoring 26 points, including a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range. Holy Cross grabbed a 14-9 lead in the first seven minutes of the game but Lafayette fought back with a 6-1 run led by Amanda Smith with four points. The Crusaders answered back with a fierce 17-0 run as McFadden and Whitney Fremeau scored five points each. Holy Cross put up a quick six points in the final two minutes of the half to finish ahead of the Leopards by 19 points, 42-23. The Crusaders extended their lead over Lafayette to 24 points (55-31) including two shots from outside the arc by McFadden and five points by O’Dell. With less than six minutes left in the game, the Leopards offense continued to stay in the game, cutting their deficit to 10 points, 62-52. Lafayette got as close as 13 points with less than three minutes left in the game behind Holy Cross but four points from O’Dell and a pair of successful shots from the free throw line by Elizabeth Campbell and Christy Cushnie put the Crusaders ahead by 18 to finish the game, 82-64. In addition to her 26 points, McFadden finished the game with four rebounds and two assists while O’Dell had four points, three assists and one steal Jessica Merrihue finished with a career-high 13 points while Campbell was the fourth Crusader player to score in double figures with 12 points while adding five rebounds, two blocks and one steal.

WINNING STREAK MARKS BEST IN FIVE SEASONS: This year’s six-game winning streak marked the longest streak since the 2004-2005 season, in which the Crusaders won 10 straight games. The 1996-1997 team posted 14 wins in a row, the longest win streak a team has recorded under the coaching of Bill Gibbons. The longest winning streak in Holy Cross women’s basketball history was during the 1980-1981 season, winning 15 games in a row under former head coach Togo Palazzi. 

MERRIHUE HITS NEW HEIGHTS: Senior forward co-captain Jessica Merrihue (Holtsville, N.Y.) has appeared in 23 games this season, making four starts. Against Lafayette at the Hart Center on Feb. 7, Merrihue scored a career-high 13 points while grabbing three rebounds and one assist in 16 minutes played. On the road against Colgate, Merrihue finished with 12 points, three rebounds and one assist in 13 minutes played. On Jan. 21 against Navy, Merrihue scored nine points and chipped in one assist and one steal in 15 minutes played. Against Bryant, she finished with seven points and two assists in 18 minutes played. In her first collegiate start against Boston College on Nov. 18, she scored six points, blocked three shots and grabbed one rebound in nine minutes played. She also chipped in five points, two rebounds and one steal in 11 minutes played versus Lehigh on Jan. 31. Merrihue has also added new career-highs in minutes played (18), points (12), rebounds (five), free throws (four), free throw attempts (five), blocks (three) and steals (three).

ROOKIE NOTES: Freshman guard Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) has made five starts and appeared in 20 games for the Crusaders, highlighted by her performance against Boston College, tallying seven points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 27 minutes played. Ward had a career-high five rebounds and matched her career-high in points scored (seven) against Vermont. She played a career-high 30 minutes and had two points, two assists and one rebound against Connecticut. She also had a career-high five assists against Northeastern on Dec. 22. Freshman center Marygrace Jay (Vienna, Va.) has appeared in 13 games so far this year, highlighted by new career-highs in points (seven), rebounds (three) and minutes played (11) in the game against Vermont. She also put up five points and one assist in seven minutes played at Colgate on Jan. 28. She also chipped in two points in two minutes played against Lehigh on Sat., Jan 31.

FRONT AND CENTER: Kathy Gruzynski has appeared in all 22 games and made 13 starts for Holy Cross. She played her strongest game of the season against Bryant, going 7-for-10 from field goal range, totaling 14 points while pulling down seven rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes played. Against Army on Jan. 14, she finished with 12 points, two assists and one rebound in 20 minutes played. In her start at American on Jan. 24, Gruzynski finished with nine points, a team-high five rebounds, one assist and one s teal in 26 minutes played. She tallied five points, five rebounds, three blocks and one assist in 14 minutes played versus Harvard on Nov. 20. In 13 minutes played at Dartmouth, Gruzynski went 4-for-4 from field goal range for eight points and pulled down three rebounds. Making 30 appearances and three starts last year, Gruzynski emerged in her role as the first Crusader off the bench. She set several career-highs with 408 minutes played, 134 points, 96 rebounds, 18 assists, 13 blocks and 10 steals. In her best performance of the 2007-2008 season, Gruzynski scored a career high 20 points and grabbed six rebounds against regular season league champion American.

NEWS ON COACH GIBBONS: Head coach Bill Gibbons is now in his 24th season as head coach of the Holy Cross women’s basketball team with a overall career record of 472-241 (.662) and a 197-55 (.782) mark in the Patriot League. Last season, Gibbons led his team to its fourth consecutive appearance and 15th overall appearance in the Patriot League Championship game. Gibbons has led the Crusaders to more victories than any other coach in Holy Cross history during his 23 year-tenure. Gibbons also ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in coaching victories for all sports, only behind former baseball coach Jack Berry (616 wins, 1921-1960). He has won 20 or more games in 10 of his last 14 seasons. Gibbons is also ranked 26th on the active NCAA Division I win leaders. He has also been named the Patriot League Coach of the Year six times in his career. In 2007, coach Gibbons was selected to be an assistant coach at the Pan-American Games, where he helped lead the team to the gold medal.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIRST IN PRESEASON POLL: The Holy Cross women’s basketball team was picked to finish first in the 2008-2009 Patriot League preseason poll, voted upon by head coaches and sports information directors. The Crusaders received 90 total points and eight first-place votes, followed by Lehigh finishing second with 83 points and six first-place votes. American was ranked third with 75 points and two first-place votes. Coming in fourth was Army with 60 points, followed by Bucknell (53 points), Lafayette (38 points), Navy (35 points) and Colgate (14 points).

HOME SWEET HOME: The 2008-2009 season marks the first time Holy Cross has ever hosted its first four games of the season. Prior to this season, the Crusaders had three seasons in which they hosted the first three games: 1988-1989 (1-2), 2001-2002 (1-2) and 2004-2005 (2-1). Overall, the Holy Cross women’s basketball team is 317-94 (.771) at the Hart Center.

TAKING ON # 1: The Crusaders have faced No. 1 ranked teams five times during the regular season, all being games against Connecticut, with a 0-5 overall record. The last time Holy Cross competed against a No. 1 ranked team was against the Huskies on Dec. 3, falling 96-37.

THE BIG TIME: Holy Cross has made 11 NCAA appearances during Coach Gibbons’ tenure including nine in the last 14 years. The Crusaders’ most recent appearance was on March 18, 2007, falling to Duke, 81-44, in the first round of the tournament.

TRIPLE OT MAKES HISTORY: Holy Cross scored 94 points against Missouri on Nov. 29, marking the first time the Crusaders have scored more than 90 points in a game in the last three seasons. The last time Holy Cross put up at least 90 points was on Dec. 3, 2005, when it defeated Memphis, 91-66, at the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic held in Tempe, Ariz.

MERRIHUE AND PEARSON NAMED CAPTAINS: Senior forward Jessica Merrihue and senior guard Jessica Pearson have been selected as the Crusaders’ captains for the 2008-2009 season. Merrihue is three-year letterwinner for the Holy Cross while Pearson is a two-year letterwinner. Both players have taken over the leadership role from Laura Aloisi and Ashley McLaughlin who served as the Crusaders’ captains as seniors during the 2007-2008 season.

WELCOME BACK TO WORCESTER: Ann McInerney is in her first season as an assistant coach on the Holy Cross staff. A Worcester native, coach McInerney graduated from Assumption College where she was the all-time leading scorer at the completion of her career. She was named the 1989 Northeast-10 Player of the Year and is also a member of the Assumption College Athletic Hall of Fame.

NEXT UP FOR THE ‘SADERS: Holy Cross continue league play on the road, traveling to Bucknell on Saturday, Feb. 14 with a game scheduled for 1:00 p.m.