Danielle Fiacco will lead Lafayette into Wednesday's non-League finale at Columbia.
Jan. 8, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The start of Patriot League play is just around the corner, and if the first half of the season has been any indication the League might be as balanced as ever from top to bottom.
Six of the eight teams are at or above .500, while the other two - Colgate and Lafayette - are just two games under. Seven squads are .500 or better at home, half the clubs have at least even records away from home and all eight have won at least one contest on the road.
The nature of the season will change drastically though once Saturday hits. The first leg of round robin League play gets underway with three contests Saturday and one Sunday. All four weekend tilts are notable, but the Army-Bucknell contest Saturday at 1 p.m. at West Point is notably intriguing given that it features the teams with the top two winning percentages thus far.
Some business remains before League play tips off Saturday. Three non-League contests are set for Tuesday, beginning with Holy Cross home for Brown at 11:30 a.m. Two games are scheduled for 7 p.m., with Bucknell hosting NJIT and Navy visiting Princeton.
Lafayette plays its non-League finale Wednesday with a 7 p.m. tip at Columbia.
Patriot League Women’s Basketball Quick Hits - @PL_WBB
• Holy Cross senior forward Amy Lepley joined the 1,000 point club with 13 in Sunday’s loss at Fordham. She’s the second player this season and 75th in League history to reach that plateau. Colgate’s Jhazmine Lynch was this season’s first to join the club Dec. 29 in the win over New Hampshire.
• Lafayette remains one of the nation’s top blocking teams, ranking fifth with 6.4 rejections per game through Sunday. Junior center Danielle Fiacco is third with 3.86 blocks per game, while Army’s Aimee Oertner is eighth (3.08).
• Army’s 11-4 record on the eve of conference play is the best since Lehigh began the season 13-2 in 2009-10.
• A win Tuesday by Holy Cross (over Brown) or Wednesday by Lafayette (at Columbia) would give the Patriot League 10 wins versus the Ivy League, the most since 12 in 2008-09.
• The League is 60-54 overall entering League play, already 11 victories better than last season’s 49-72 overall mark in non-League games, which included Holy Cross’ postseason win over New Hampshire in the WBI.
• The Patriot League moved up one spot to 19th among conferences in Monday’s College Basketball News RPI. American was the top ranked team of the eight schools at No. 167. The rest of the numbers: Holy Cross (180); Lafayette (195); Bucknell (208); Lehigh (213); Colgate (221); Army (236); Navy (243). Ratings are through games of Jan. 6.
• Beyond Lafayette at No. 5 in the nation in blocks, two other teams rank highly in other categories. Bucknell is 10th in rebounding margin (+11.1) and Navy is 21st with 7.5 3-pointers per game.
• Lehigh has won three in a row and six of eight.
Patriot League Notebook
Lehigh forward Kerry Kinek captured her third Anaconda Rookie of the Week honor Monday afternoon, becoming the third student-athlete this season to secure the honor three times this season. She joins the Army pair of Aimee Oertner and Kelsey Minato. That kind of consistent, shared dominance of the honor by three players in the first nine weeks of the season has never been seen before in League history.
LEPLEY JOINS LYNCH
Holy Cross senior forward Amy Lepley became the second player this season to reach 1,000 career points, joining Colgate senior guard Jhazmine Lynch, who reached the plateau between Christmas and New Year’s. Lepley scored 10 points against Dartmouth and surpassed the plateau with 13 Sunday at Fordham. The Lynch-Lepley tandem will most likely be joined in short order by a third player, as Crusader junior Alex Smith sits with 944 points. Two 1,000-point scorers graduated last season in Lehigh’s Emily Gratch (1,112) and American’s Lisa Strack (1,059).
The Patriot League schedule opens on Jan. 12 for both men and women’s basketball, and fans will be able to watch six of the weekend’s contests for free on high-speed broadband through the All-Access package provided by the League and CBS Interactive. The contests, which are being offered for free for the first time, include Colgate at American, Bucknell at Army and Lehigh at Holy Cross in women’s basketball. The Lafayette-Navy women’s game on Jan. 13 at Noon will be shown live on CBS Sports Network. After the free opening weekend, the Patriot League All-Access package is available for a price of only $7.95 per month.
PATRIOT LEAGUE ON CBS SPORTS NETWORK
Three games involving Patriot League teams will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network this season, including two in the regular season and the League’s championship tilt in March. Two-time defending champion Navy hosts Lafayette Sunday in Annapolis, Md., in the first televised contest, while Holy Cross visits Lehigh Feb. 10 in Bethlehem, Pa., in the second. Coverage wraps up Saturday, March 16, when CBS Sports Network televises the Patriot League championship game from the site of the higher seed. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. Bob Socci will handle the play-by-play and Amy Lawrence the analysis.
CORKERY CHASING A RECORD
At 93-46 overall at American, head coach Matt Corkery ranks among the best in the League all-time in win percentage (.669). Corkery is also chasing the League record for fastest to 100 victories, a mark that is currently owned by Holy Cross’ Bill Gibbons. Gibbons reached 100 victories in 149 contests, with his 100th triumph coming in the 1995-96 season opener against Syracuse. Corkery would match Gibbons’ record with a 7-3 mark in American’s next 10 contests. Navy’s Joe Sanchez collected 100 wins in 162 games from 1994-2000. American is next in action Saturday at home for Colgate.
NAVY CHOSEN TO MAKE IT THREE STRAIGHT
The head coaches and sports information directors named two-time defending Patriot League champion Navy as the favorite in 2012-13 in late October. The Mids, led by Preseason Player of the Year junior Jade Geif, are seeking to do something no League squad has done in over a decade - win three straight titles. The first and only program to do it is Holy Cross, which captured four straight championships from 1997-98 to 2000-01. Navy returns four starters from a year ago, all of whom are in their junior seasons. Navy topped the preseason poll with 89 points and eight first-place ballots.
END OF AN ERA
Saturday marks the beginning of the final Patriot League season in the current eight-team format, which has existed since American joined for the 2001-02 season. Before that the League was comprised of seven schools from the 1995-96 season through 2000-01 following the departure of Fordham. Next season the additions of Boston University and Loyola Maryland make the League a 10-team conference for the first time.
ARMY LOOKS TO RIDE MOMENTUM
The Black Knights hit Patriot League play this weekend with a League-best 11 victories. It’s the most for any team at this point in the season since 2009-10, when Lehigh reached the outset of conference play with a 13-2 mark en route to capturing the second of back-to-back League titles.
AMERICAN At Bender Arena in Washington, D.C., Alexis Dobbs scored nine points and Geleisa George had eight for American, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles fell to Fordham 71-50 on Friday afternoon ... American was limited to 26.9 percent shooting and trailed 24-10 with less than six minutes left in the first half ... The Eagles trailed 39-16 at half, but edged Fordham in the second half with a score of 34-32 ... Hampton’s Alyssa Bennett sank a 3-pointer as time expired in overtime to defeat American 61-58 Sunday afternoon at Bender Arena ... George scored a team-high 13 points and Michelle Holmes logged a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds ... Both players came off the bench ... Sarah Kiely’s layup put American up 19-9 near the midway point of the first, and the Eagles took a 30-23 advantage at the half ... Hampton scored the first 10 points of the second half to take a 33-30 lead, and stayed in front until George’s layup put the Eagles ahead 42-41 with 8:48 left ... Hampton regained the lead late before Shaquilla Curtis sank a jumper with five seconds left to force overtime ... Hampton jumped out in front early in the extra frame, but the Eagles knotted the game on George’s foul shots with 1:25 left, setting up Bennett’s game-winner ... The Eagles open League play Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host Colgate, and return to the road next week at Lehigh.
ARMY Anna Simmers led all scorers with 21 points, and Olivia Schretzman logged her fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds as Army finished non-League play with its best record in six years with a 63-59 win at Morgan State ... Aimee Oertner added 10 points, nine rebounds and six rejections up front ... The Black Knights built a 30-23 lead by halftime thanks mostly to Schretzman, who scored 12 points and hauled down seven boards in the first 20 minutes ... In the second half it was Simmers who carried the load, as she scored 11 straight Black Knight points over a nearly 10-minute stretch, and Oertner later laid in a basket to give Army a 61-51 lead with 3:29 left ... A pair of Oertner blocks came in the final 20 seconds to help the Black Knights hold on ... Army hosts Bucknell Saturday in the Patriot League opener at 1 p.m.
BUCKNELL Audrey Dotson had another monster game up front, scoring 22 points on 10 of 13 from the floor, but Bucknell couldn’t overcome four Bulldogs scoring in double figures as the Bison fell 82-62 in New Haven, Conn., Saturday ... Lindsay Horbatuck and Rachel Voss scored seven points apiece, while Horbatuck also pulled down nine rebounds ... Yale started the game on a 6-0 run and expanded the lead to double figures for the first time at 25-14 at the 6:16 mark of the first half ... The Bulldogs extended the lead to 16 before Bucknell chipped away and settled for a 39-26 halftime deficit ... The Bison cut Yale’s lead to single digits less than three minutes in, but the Bulldogs pulled away approaching the midway point of the second half with a 17-2 run ... Yale shot 8 of 22 from beyond the arc to Bucknell’s 2 of 8, and turned 26 Bison turnovers into 36 points ... Bucknell hosts NJIT Tuesday at 7 p.m. in its non-League finale.
COLGATE Lulu Brase led all scorers with a career-high 15 points and added nine rebounds as Colgate doubled up NJIT 72-36 Thursday night in Hamilton, N.Y. ... Mariah Jones hit double figures with 10 points, three assists and a pair of rebounds, and Jhazmine Lynch added 11 points, five boards and three dishes in 21 minutes off the bench ... The Raiders never trailed in the contest and scored the game’s first seven points ... The lead reached double figures 6:23 into the game on Lynch’s 3-pointer, and a pair of Catherine Lewis free throws put the Raiders ahead 30-9 with 6:21 left until the half ... The lead was 41-22 at the break, and Brase capped off a 22-8 Colgate spurt to put it in front 65-32 with just over six and a half minutes to go ... The Raiders shot 48 percent in the first half and 41 percent for the game, while their defense held the Highlanders to 27 percent for the game and 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from beyond the arc ... Lynch scored a team-high 15 points in 21 minutes off the bench in Colgate’s 57-33 loss at UNC Charlotte Sunday afternoon ... The Raiders had a tough afternoon from the field, going 13 of 50 (26 percent) overall and 4 of 18 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc ... The 49ers sank 13 first-half field goals to Colgate’s six en route to a 33-18 halftime lead ... Jones scored two of her seven points on a jumper with 13:34 to go to pull the Raiders within 38-29 ... After the teams traded buckets, Charlotte went on a game-closing 18-2 run to pull away ... The Raiders went the game’s final 10:13 without a point, going 0 of 13 from the field with eight turnovers ... Colgate opens League play Saturday at American at 2 p.m.
HOLY CROSS Amy Lepley posted her eighth career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Alex Smith scored a game-high 12 points and Molly Hourigan added 10 off the bench as Holy Cross won 64-52 at Dartmouth Thursday ... The Crusaders used a 16-3 run in the first half to take a 24-11 lead just beyond the midway point ... The Big Green crawled back within 28-20 at halftime, but Holy Cross was firing early in the second ... The Crusaders outscored Dartmouth 17-9 in the first 9:49 of the second to move in front 45-29, and followed it up with an 8-2 run to take their biggest advantage of the game, 53-31, under three minutes later ... Dartmouth rallied late but didn’t close the deficit into single digits ... The Crusaders shot 45 percent for the game, despite a 4-of-17 effort from beyond the arc ... Holy Cross went on an 18-4 run in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a big Fordham lead as the Rams won 67-60 at Rose Hill Gym Sunday afternoon ... Christine Ganser logged 17 points and 10 points for the double-double to pace Holy Cross, while Lepley scored 13 points to become the 28th Crusader and 75th player in Patriot League history with 1,000 for her career ... The Rams led 51-35 with 12:30 on the clock, but the Crusaders roared back with 18 of the game’s next 22 points, cutting the Ram lead to 55-53 with 4:48 remaining, but that was as close as they would get ... Fordham turned a 30-27 halftime advantage into the 51-35 lead with a 21-8 run to start the second ... Holy Cross couldn’t generate much off Fordham miscues, as the Rams turned the ball over only four times ... The Crusaders host Brown Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in their last non-League game of the season and their first home contest since Nov. 28.
LAFAYETTE Freshman Jamie O’Hare had a breakout game with a career-high 18 points as Lafayette stifled Brown 56-32 at Kirby Sports Center Saturday afternoon ... It’s the fewest points allowed in nearly 21 years by the Leopards, matching the 32 points surrendered Feb. 5, 1992 in a 55-32 win over Holy Cross ... O’Hare added eight rebounds and four assists, while Danielle Fiacco recorded a double-double of 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, and Emily Homan scored 11 with four rejections and four dishes ... The Leopards jumped out to a 10-4 lead and later orchestrated a 25-6 run to take a 37-17 lead at halftime ... The lead was never in any serious danger in the second, as the Leopard defense allowed Brown just five field goals and 17 percent shooting, including a 1-of-14 showing from the field ... Lafayette heads to Columbia Wednesday at 7 p.m. before starting Patriot League play Sunday at noon at Navy on CBS Sports Network.
LEHIGH Katie O’Reilly sank 1 of 2 from the free throw line with four seconds left and it was the difference as Lehigh pulled to .500 with a 46-45 win at NJIT Saturday afternoon ... Freshman Kerry Kinek led all scorers with 17 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, while Sarah Pearce and Marybeth Egan scored six apiece for the Mountain Hawks ... Lehigh led 26-15 with less than three minutes to go in the first, but the Highlanders used a 14-0 run that spanned the end of the first and beginning of the second to take a three-point lead ... It took Lehigh until the 6:30 mark of the second to regain the lead on a Kinek layup to make it a 40-38 game ... A pair of free throws put NJIT in front 44-43 with 2:49 left, and then Kinek and Pearce both went 1 of 2 from the stripe on consecutive possessions to give Lehigh a 45-44 lead with two minutes to play ... Keeping with the theme, NJIT hit 1 of 2 from the line on its next crack at the basket roughly 30 seconds later setting up O’Reilly’s game-winning turn at the line ... O’Reilly led all scorers and three Mountain Hawks in double figures with 15 points, while Kinek and Lindsay Hoskins each chipped in 10 in Lehigh’s 58-33 victory over Columbia Monday ... Becky Guman dished five assists and Hilary Weaver added four, as Lehigh posted 13 total on 18 baskets in front of nearly 3,600 students and teachers on Education Day ... Down 4-2 early, Lehigh put together a 13-0 run to take a 15-4 lead at the 14:11 mark of the first half ... The Mountain Hawks expanded the lead to 24-7 on Weaver’s 3-pointer with 5:51 to go, and scored five straight points to close the half with a 33-19 lead ... The Lions scored the first deuce of the second half, but it was all Lehigh after ... The Mountain Hawks scored the game’s next nine points, with Kinek’s three-point play give Lehigh a 42-21 lead at the 13:46 mark ... Hoskins added a team-high eight boards for Lehigh, which outrebounded Columbia 38-30 ... The Mountain Hawks visit Holy Cross Saturday at 1 p.m.
NAVY Jade Geif scored 15 points and Alix Membreno had 11 for Navy, but Richmond had a trio of double-digit scorers in the 65-59 win at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va., Friday ... Navy ran out to a 20-2 advantage in the first half and rode that momentum to a 34-28 halftime lead ... Richmond, however, scored the first 12 points of the second half to make it 40-34 ... Navy cut it to 48-47, but Richmond staved off the Mids and scored the final five points of the game to collect the win ... The Mids have another tough road contest at Princeton Tuesday at 7 p.m. before hosting Lafayette Sunday at noon on CBS Sports Network.