Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.6.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Audrey Bauer leads Navy into Saturday's 3 p.m. tilt at Lafayette.
Audrey Bauer leads Navy into Saturday's 3 p.m. tilt at Lafayette.

Jan. 6, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The most important portion of the season is finally here, as all eight teams open Patriot League play with four contests Saturday.

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Three of the eight are heading into League play coming off victories. Holy Cross took a 65-63 win Wednesday over Dartmouth at home in its final non-League tuneup before League play, though the Crusaders have one non-League game remaining Jan. 16 against Brown. Holy Cross, which has won two in a row, joined American as the two League teams at 8-6 entering Saturday’s play.

Lafayette and Navy also picked up victories this week, with the Leopards winning against Columbia at home Wednesday while the Mids snapped a four-game skid Tuesday with a 16-point win over NJIT. Lafayette improved to 6-9 on the season, and while they remain under .500, the Leopards have won three of their last five. Meanwhile, the Mids moved back up to the .500 mark at 7-7 after Tuesday’s win.

Saturday’s games are somewhat staggered, giving fans an opportunity to follow the contests all throughout the day. Holy Cross visits Lehigh for a 2 p.m. tip to begin the showdowns, while defending champion Navy heads to Lafayette for a 3 p.m. start. Colgate takes to the floor at 4 p.m. at home when it hosts American.

There’s one game in the evening, with Army visiting Bucknell at 7 p.m.

Teams will have little time to regroup after the first set of League games Saturday, as play continues Wednesday with four more contests at 7 p.m. Bucknell will visit Colgate, Navy hosts Holy Cross, Lafayette heads to Army and American welcomes Lehigh.

Patriot League Notebook

The most important stretch of the season gets underway Saturday with the beginning of Patriot League play. All eight teams start their 14-game slate, with the day starting at 2 p.m. when Lehigh hosts Holy Cross. Defending League champion Navy visits Lafayette at 3 p.m., while American goes to Colgate at 4 p.m. and Bucknell hosts Army at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal.

Seven of the eight League teams have completed their non-League schedules this week, while one - Holy Cross - has its final non-League contest slated for later in January. American finished its non-League schedule 8-6 after Monday’s loss at George Washington, while Colgate sits 3-12 after dropping a contest at Syracuse on Saturday and Lehigh concluded its non-League tuneups with a 7-7 mark following a loss last week to Richmond at home. Army and Bucknell finished their non-League schedules with losses Tuesday, while Navy capped off its slate with a win Tuesday, as did Lafayette on Wednesday. The last non-League match for any team is Jan. 16 when Holy Cross visits Brown.

In a season where rookies have made significant contributions for several League teams, Jen Dumiak of American became the latest to emerge last week. She tallied a career-high 12 points and added three assists, a pair of rebounds and two steals in American’s 72-59 loss to Quinnipiac Wednesday, then topped herself with 19 points and five boards in Friday’s 77-52 win over Western Michigan. Dumiak averaged 15.5 points per game and shot a blistering 73.3 percent (11 of 15) from the field while averaging 30.5 minutes per contest.

The four League teams to participate in holiday tournaments last week - Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy - combined for a 3-5 record during competition. The Crusaders, Leopards and Mountain Hawks each picked up one win apiece, while the Mids fell in both games at the Fordham Holiday Classic. Navy dropped the two contests by a combined six points. Holy Cross and Lafayette picked up victories in the consolation games of the Miami Holiday and Terrapin Classic tournaments, respectively, while Lehigh opened its Christmas City Classic with a win.

Once again this season, over 100 Patriot League men’s and women’s basketball contests are available with a subscription to Patriot League All-Access. For $7.95 a month or $19.95 for a year, fans can watch a vast majority of the League’s basketball contests, along with watching archived coverage of fall championships and having access to available winter and spring championships for the rest of the 2011-12 academic year. For more, visit

Lafayette sophomore Danielle Fiacco again remains near the top of the NCAA statistics in shot blocking. According to the latest NCAA stats released Friday, the 6-foot-7 Fiacco is second in the nation in both total blocks (64) and blocks per game (4.3). She trails Baylor’s Brittney Griner in both categories. Fiacco posted 71 blocks last year as a freshman, the 11th-highest single-season tally in League history, and appears poised to surpass that total with 64 already this season. With 135 stuffs for her career, Fiacco sits 11th all-time in Patriot League annals and just one shy of the top 10.

Bill Gibbons became the second head coach in the Patriot League to reach a significant victory milestone this season when Holy Cross defeated New Hampshire 61-50 earlier this season. It was the 500th win of his career, which is now in its 27th season and has spent its entire duration on the Crusader sidelines. Gibbons joins Lafayette’s Dianne Nolan as the only two League coaches with at least 500 career wins. Earlier this season Army’s Dave Magarity collected his 400th coaching victory when Army defeated St. Francis (N.Y.).

With two victory plateaus having been reached, there’s now a third on the way that seems likely this season. Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, who is in her fourth season in Annapolis, has 295 career victories after the Mids wrapped up non-League play with a 67-51 win over NJIT Tuesday.

Three Patriot League contests are scheduled to be televised on CBS Sports Network, with two featuring one of the most vaunted rivalry in intercollegiate athletics. Both regular season contests between Army and Navy will be shown on the network, with the Jan. 14 game hailing from Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md., and the Feb. 11 contest at Christl Arena at West Point, N.Y. Both games will tip at 12 p.m. CBS Sports Network will also televise the Patriot League championship on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 6 p.m.

It was bound to happen at some point, and Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner finally accomplished it earlier this season when she was named to both the Patriot League Anaconda Player and Rookie of the Week awards after averaging 22.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game for the Bison. Her 25-point outburst against Youngstown State was the largest point total by a Patriot Leaguer this season, and she became the eighth freshman in Bucknell history to record back-to-back games of at least 20 points when she scored 20 at Buffalo. On Tuesday, Lafayette’s Emily Homan became the second player in League history named to both awards at the same time.

Jen Hazlett scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting to lead Army to its 59-43 win at St. Francis (N.Y.) Nov. 16, delivering head coach Dave Magarity the 400th victory of his career, which has spanned three decades and now approaches 100 wins at West Point. Army led by five at the half after shooting 57 percent from the floor, and pulled away in the second half as the team collected 21 bucks and 17 assists. Magarity is now the third coach in the League with at least 400 career victories, joining Lafayette’s Dianne Nolan and Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross.

With 94 points and 11 first-place votes, American topped the 2011-12 Patriot League Preseason Women’s Basketball Poll. The Eagles will aim to capture their first League crown in program history after reaching the title game in each of the last two seasons. American finished ahead of second-place Lehigh, which totaled 83 points and three first-place votes. Defending League champion Navy took third with 74 points and the last two remaining first-place ballots. Bucknell finished fourth in the poll, the same position in which the Bison ended the regular season a year ago. They collected 58 points, followed by Holy Cross in fifth with 52. Rounding out the poll were Lafayette (38 points), Army (26) and Colgate (23).

Navy’s Jade Geif got better and better as the 2010-11 season went on, and the hardware began adding up quickly. She was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year at the end of the regular season and added Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after helping lead the Midshipmen to their first League crown in program history. Geif was recognized again by the League’s eight head coaches and women’s basketball sports information directors with the Preseason Player of the Year honor and a spot on the Preseason All-League team. In nearly 30 minutes per game a season ago, Geif was second in the League averaging 7.9 rebounds per game and is Navy’s top returning scorer (9.6 ppg). Geif became the first player named Rookie of the Year and Tournament MVP in the same season since Bethany O’Dell of Holy Cross in 2007.

The Patriot League features one new face on the sidelines in 2011-12, with Nicci Hays Fort entering her first season at Colgate. Entering the season with over a decade of coaching experience, Hays Fort comes to Hamilton, N.Y., after serving as the associate head coach on Doug Bruno’s staff at DePaul. Coincidentally, one of Hays Fort’s last contests coaching the Blue Demons was in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, when DePaul faced off with Navy. The Raiders look to rebound from a 7-22 showing and a 2-12 mark in the League last season, and boast the returns of junior Jhazmine Lynch, the 2010 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, along with senior Tricia Oakes and a pair of freshmen in Mariah Jones and Kelly Reid who are immediately contributing.

Ten of the 11 players named First- or Second-Team All-Patriot League a year ago graduated in the spring. The one who remains is American senior Lisa Strack, who was named to the Preseason All-League Team last month and is expected to contribute mightily to the Eagles this season. One of three seniors named to the Preseason All-League squad, Strack is the League’s second-highest returning scorer after averaging 11.6 points per game last season. She was also her team’s best distributor, averaging 3.4 assists per game, placing her fourth in the League.

Patriot League Games

Stabler Arena (5,600); Bethlehem, Pa. • Saturday, 2 p.m.
Series: Holy Cross, 37-13 TV: Service Electric 2
Streak: Lehigh, Seven Wins Last Meeting: Lehigh 83, Holy Cross 55 (2.26.11)
Last Holy Cross Win: 46-44, (3.9.08) (Mahwah, N.J.) Last Five Games: Lehigh, 5-0

After ending the Patriot League regular season in 2010-11 against one another, Holy Cross and Lehigh renew their rivalry in the Patriot League opener in 2011-12 ... Lehigh has won the last seven meetings, though the Crusaders maintain a 37-13 edge in the all-time series ... The Mountain Hawks enter Saturday’s contest coming off a 71-49 loss to Richmond in the finale of the Christmas City Classic, which snapped a five-game win streak ... Holy Cross moved to two games above .500 Tuesday with a 65-63 win over Dartmouth.

HOLY CROSS The team won its second in a row after a 65-63 win over Dartmouth at the Hart Center Tuesday night behind a career-high 21 points from Christine Ganser ... Amy Lepley poured in 13 points while Brisje Malone had 11 points and Alex Smith added 10 ... The Crusaders hit 10 of 28 from the floor in the first half en route to a 29-29 tie at the break ... Holy Cross went up 47-38 with 13:06 left in the second before the Big Green used a 13-4 run to tie the game at 51 ... Kelly Hamner sank the game-winner for the Crusaders with 2:26 left giving them the 65-63 win ... This season has marked a bit of a turnaround thus far for the Crusaders, who were just 4-11 and riding a seven-game losing streak entering League play a year ago ... Holy Cross snapped that skid with a come-from-behind 72-67 win at Lafayette ... The Crusaders currently own the League’s highest-scoring offense (63.7 points per game), but are also giving up the most (66.9 ppg) ... Holy Cross tops the League thus far in distributing the basketball, averaging a League-high 17.4 assists per game.

LEHIGH Katie O’Reilly scored a team-high 12 points and Emily Gratch scored 10 in her first start of the season but Lehigh fell 71-49 to Richmond in the final game of the Christmas City Classic on Dec. 30 ... The loss snapped the Mountain Hawks’ five-game win streak and was their first downing in December in two years ... Gratch narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds, while O’Reilly grabbed seven boards ... The Mountain Hawks finished shooting 16 of 60 from the floor and 7 of 25 from beyond the arc ... Richmond made the most of Lehigh’s 24 turnovers, converting them to 30 points ... Lehigh is 5-1 since Gratch returned to the lineup after suffering a hand injury just days before the season-opener ... She’s averaging a team-best 10.7 points per game, just ahead of Alexa Williams (10.6), who has started all 14 games ... Williams is almost averaging a double-double with 9.4 rebounds per contest ... Lehigh dominated the Crusaders the last time out, posting a 28-point victory to close the regular season in 2010-11 ... The victory helped solidify the Mountain Hawks’ No. 2 seed in last year’s Patriot League Tournament, while the Crusaders took the No. 6 seed.

Kirby Sports Center (3,500); Easton, Pa. • Saturday, 3 p.m.
Series: Navy, 36-20 TV: Lafayette Sports Network (RCN 4 & 8, WBPH 60)
Streak: Lafayette, One Win Last Meeting: Lafayette, 58-53 (2.12.11)
Last Navy Win: 61-52 (1.15.11) Last Five Games: Lafayette, 3-2

The defending Patriot League Champion Navy Midshipmen officially start their quest for a repeat when they visit Lafayette Saturday at 3 p.m. ... This will be the 57th meeting all-time between the programs, with Navy owning a 36-20 advantage ... Lafayette, however, has won three of the last five meetings, including a 58-53 victory in Easton, Pa., a season ago ... Navy is also 27-13 in the series since joining the Patriot League for the 1991-92 season ... The game will be televised regionally on the Lafayette Sports Network, as will all Leopard home games during the rest of the season.

NAVY pulled back to .500 and snapped a four-game skid with a 67-51 win over NJIT at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. ... The Mids shot nearly 58 percent in the first half and used stellar defense to hold the Highlanders to just 5 of 28 in the first 20 minutes and led 43-14 at halftime ... Alix Membreno scored a career-high 24 points with eight boards while Kara Pollinger scored 12 with seven rebounds and seven assists and Audrey Bauer poured in 11 ... Navy won the rebounding edge 36-33 ... Navy snapped a four-game skid with the victory, which was its first since a December win over Princeton ... The Mids have continued using four sophomores in its starting lineup, and Audrey Bauer leads the team averaging 10.8 points per game ... Jade Geif is close behind at 10.4 ppg, along with a team-best 7.9 rebounds per contest.

LAFAYETTE In its final tuneup before Patriot League play, Lafayette picked up a 53-45 win at home over visiting Columbia Wednesday evening in Easton, Pa. ... It was a balanced effort from the Leopards, as all 10 players to log minutes tallied at least two points ... Kristan Liddle scored a team-high nine points, while Emily Homan poured in seven with a team-best 11 rebounds ... Danielle Fiacco posted six points, seven boards and three blocks on the night ... Columbia took an 18-9 lead with 8:15 left in the first before the Leopards closed with a 20-7 spurt to take a four-point advantage into the half ... Lafayette scored the first seven points of the second frame and eventually logged its biggest lead of the game at 53-35 with 4:06 on the clock ... The Leopards shot 39.1 percent in the first and improved it to 45.8 in the second and owned an 18-10 advantage in points in the paint ... Over the last several games, Homan has moved to second on the team averaging 10.9 points per game, second only to Fiacco (11.1 ppg).

Cotterell Court (3,100); Hamilton, N.Y. • Saturday, 4 p.m.
Series: American, 19-6
Streak: American, 10 Wins Last Meeting: American, 69-49 (2.12.11)
Last Colgate Win: 66-53 (2.10.07) Last Five Games: American, 5-0

American swept the season series from Colgate last season and moved its overall win streak against the Raiders to 10 ... The Eagles own a 19-6 all-time advantage in the series ... Both teams are 3-2 in their last five, but have dropped two of their last three and enter the contest coming off losses in their non-League finales ... American is one of two Patriot League teams above .500 entering League play after going 8-6 in its first 14 outings ... The Raiders enter Patriot League play for the first time under first-year head coach Nicci Hays Fort ... Hays Fort was on the sidelines as a member of the DePaul coaching staff when the Blue Demons took on Navy in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

AMERICAN wrapped up its non-Patriot League slate with a 60-49 loss at George Washington Monday afternoon ... Sarah Kiely and T’Asia McGeorge each scored 14 points to lead the Eagles (8-6), who fell behind 26-15 at halftime after shooting just 6 of 24 (25 percent) in the first half ... McGeorge sank a 3-pointer and Lisa Strack had a layup to cut the Colonials’ lead to 37-33 with 12:38 left ... American continued chipping into the lead and cut it to three twice in the next two and a half minutes, but George Washington used a 15-2 run to take a 60-43 lead with 2:08 remaining ... No Eagle has started all 14 games, but a pair (Strack and Alexis Dobbs) have made 13 starts ... Ten of the 11 players to see any playing time have made at least one start ... Strack and Dobbs, the team’s co-captains, are tied for the team lead with 10.4 points per game, while Strack also owns a team-best 6.4 rebounds per contest.

COLGATE Jhazmine Lynch returned to the lineup and tied a team-high with eight points with Kelly Reid but it wasn’t enough as Colgate fell 83-32 at Syracuse Saturday afternoon in its final non-League game ... The Raiders shot 13 of 60 (21.7 percent) from the field and went just 2 of 22 on 3-pointers ... The Orange dominated the glass 58-31 and finished shooting almost 43 percent (30 of 70) from the field ... Syracuse jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 40-14 advantage at halftime ... Lynch owns a League-best 14.1 points-per-game average but isn’t listed in the League’s individual standings because she’s played in 73 percent of the team’s games ... The minimum is 75 percent ... Candice Green and Kelly Korkowski are the only two Raiders to start all 15 games ... Reid and fellow freshman Mariah Jones have both started 12 contests.

Sojka Pavilion (4,000); Lewisburg, Pa. • Saturday, 7 p.m.
Series: Bucknell, 31-17
Streak: Bucknell, Three Wins Last Meeting: Bucknell, 54-40 (3.5.11)
Last Army Win: 49-37 (2.28.10) Last Five Games: Bucknell, 4-1

Army and Bucknell battled in the quarterfinals of last season’s Patriot League Tournament and the two will get right back to it when they meet to open the 2011-12 regular-season League slate Saturday evening ... The Bison have won three straight meetings, four of the last five and own a 31-17 lead in the all-time series.

ARMY was done in by an 11-2 run late as Bryant took a 64-54 win from the Black Knights Tuesday afternoon ... Army took a 36-34 lead into halftime and owned a 51-50 lead with 5:26 to go before the Bulldogs began their late run ... Anna Simmers scored a team-high 14 points while Olivia Schretzman poured in 13 points with seven rebounds ... For the Black Knights, it was their seventh straight loss after opening the season 6-2 ... Sophomore Jen Hazlett is second in the League averaging 12.9 points per game, while her 6.9 rebounds per contest are fifth best ... Junior Anna Simmers is averaging 10.8 points per game, good for second on the team and tied for sixth in the Patriot League ... Schretzman’s 5.1 rebounds per game are tied for 14th in the League.

BUCKNELL Christina Chukwuedo had 11 points, four rebounds and three steals in Bucknell’s 69-48 loss to visiting Yale Tuesday night ... The Bison (2-13) despite turning 25 Yale turnovers into 27 points ... Bucknell owned an 8-7 lead at the 14:47 mark of the first half before the Bulldogs took the lead with a 9-0 run ... Yale led 33-24 at halftime and extended the advantage to double figures a minute and a half into the second ... The Bison managed just a 7-of-23 shooting effort after the break, while Yale shot a blistering 13 of 19 from the floor in the final 20 minutes ... Shelby Romine and Lindsay Horbatuck have started all 15 games for the Bison, while Chukwuedo has started 14 ... The Bison have been held under 50 points in each of their last three contests and have not poured in more than 57 in a game this year.