Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.11.13

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Patriot League play tips off this weekend with three contests Saturday and a fourth Sunday.
Patriot League play tips off this weekend with three contests Saturday and a fourth Sunday.

Jan. 11, 2013

Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 1.11.13 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The most important two-month stretch of the season is finally here, with Patriot League play set to begin Saturday with three contests and continue Sunday with a nationally televised tilt on CBS Sports Network.

The best word to describe the first two months of the 2012-13 campaign? It might be “balance.” Five of the League’s eight teams are .500 or better, while two others are just one game below and a second is two games under. In addition, all eight teams are at least .500 at home, with six having winning records in their buildings.

League teams have assembled a strong body of work thus far, combining for a 63-55 record in non-League games. That’s a significant improvement over the 49-72 mark the League had in out-of-conference battles a year ago. There’s one non-League regular season game to go (Colgate at NJIT, Feb. 5) followed by the postseason.

In addition, League teams have combined to win five of their last six games, and five teams enter League play coming off victories.

This weekend’s slate begins Saturday at 1 p.m. with Army hosting Bucknell and Lehigh visiting Holy Cross. American entertains Colgate at 2 p.m., while Navy hosts Lafayette Sunday at noon on CBS Sports Network, with Bob Socci and Chris Spatola on the call.

Patriot League Women’s Basketball Quick Hits

• Lehigh is the hottest team in the League right now, having won three in a row and six of its last eight.

• Lafayette is fifth in the nation averaging 6.5 blocks per game, while Bucknell is ninth in the country in rebounding margin (+11.1 per game)

• Lafayette’s Danielle Fiacco and Army’s Aimee Oertner make up the only pair in the nation’s top 10 in blocking from the same conference. Fiacco is third in the NCAA (3.93 bpg) and Oertner eighth (3.07).

• The four teams hosting League games this weekend are a combined 16-8 at home.

• Army’s 11-4 record on the eve of conference play is the best since Lehigh began the season 13-2 in 2009-10.

• American’s back court of junior Alexis Dobbs (11.5 ppg) and sophomore Jen Dumiak (13.0 ppg) has paced the Eagles so far, who enter Saturday’s game with a 15-game winning streak in regular season Patriot League games.

• The League is a combined 35-22 against the Ivy League (11-6), Metro Atlantic (10-8) and Northeast Conference (14-8).

• The teams leading the League in win percentage are all squaring off Saturday.

• Bucknell had won nine of its last 10 meetings with Army before the Black Knights swept the season series last year.

Patriot League Notebook

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.

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 Chris Spatola the analysis for Sunday’s game on CBS Sports Network.

Being the defending champion means you have a target on your back the next season. Of the last five to hoist the League trophy in March, three have picked up wins in the following season’s conference opener - Holy Cross (2007 champion, 2008 opener), Bucknell (‘08, ‘09) and Navy (‘11, ‘12). And it almost didn’t happen last January for the Mids, who trailed 30-18 at Lafayette at the half before rallying for a 60-55 win. Lehigh, which won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, lost both its League openers the following season to American.

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.

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 964 points. Two 1,000-point scorers graduated last season in Lehigh’s Emily Gratch (1,112) and American’s Lisa Strack (1,059).

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.

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.

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.

Patriot League Games

Christl Arena (5,043); West Point, N.Y. • Saturday, 1 p.m.
Series: Bucknell, 31-19
Streak: Army, 2 Last Meeting: Army, 60-56 (West Point, N.Y.; 2.4.12)
Last Bucknell Win: 54-40 (Lewisburg, Pa.; 3.5.11) Last Five Games: Bucknell, 3-2

• Army hosts Bucknell to open the Patriot League season for both teams
• The Black Knights lead the League in win percentage, and the Bison are second
• Army’s Anna Simmers won last year’s scoring title (14.8). This year she’s second in the League (14.3)
• Bucknell is led by first-year head coach Aaron Roussell, who has already guided the Bison to more victories than last season (5-25)
• Bucknell’s Lindsay Horbatuck (1st, 10.5 rpg) and Audrey Dotson (5th, 8.5), and Army’s Olivia Schretzman (3rd, 8.8) and Aimee Oertner (6th, 8.4) are among the League’s best in rebounding
• Army swept the series last season, 67-64 in Lewisburg, Pa., and 60-56 at home
• Last season marked the first time the two programs opened League play against one another
• The programs played once (1984) before meeting at least twice a year since the advent of League play in 1991

BUCKNELL Shelby Romine led all players with 20 points as Bucknell defeated NJIT 52-35 Tuesday to enter Patriot League play with a 9-6 record ... Audrey Dotson’s string of consecutive 20-point games was snapped as she scored nine, and Lindsay Horbatuck added six with a team-high 11 rebounds ... Dotson sank one of her four field goals to put the Bison up 12-4 with 13:38 left in the first ... After NJIT clawed back within a pair, Bucknell ended the first half on a 10-0 run and had a 26-14 halftime lead ... Rachel Voss’ layup allowed the Bison to double up the Highlanders 36-18 with 14:38 on the clock ... NJIT cut Bucknell’s lead to 11 with under eight minutes to play, but the Bison used an 11-2 run to take their largest advantage of the game to that point at 20 with 5:57 left ... Bucknell shot just 29 percent, while NJIT managed just 23.6 percent ... The Bison were 15 of 28 from the foul line to the Highlanders’ 7 of 8, and had a 49-37 rebounding advantage ... Bucknell’s first League game at home is Wednesday at 7 p.m. versus Colgate.

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 Sunday ... 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 hits the road Wednesday to visit Lafayette.

Hart Center (3,600); Worcester, Mass. • Saturday, 1 p.m.
Series: Holy Cross, 37-15
Streak: Lehigh, 9 Last Meeting: Lehigh, 75-73 (Worcester, Mass.; 2.4.12)
Last Holy Cross Win: 46-44 (Mahwah, N.J.; 3.9.08) Last Five Games: Lehigh, 5-0

• The matchup features the two longest-tenured head coaches at their respective schools in Holy Cross’ Bill Gibbons (28th year) and Lehigh’s Sue Troyan (18th)
• Lehigh’s nine-game win streak in the series is the program’s longest and the second longest overall. Holy Cross won 18 straight from March 3, 1994 to March 8, 2001.
• Holy Cross junior Alex Smith leads the League in scoring (14.6 ppg) and made 3-pointers (47) and is third shooting 38.8 percent from beyond the arc
• Lehigh forward Kerry Kinek has been named Anaconda Rookie of the Week three times this season, most recently on Monday
• Kinek is the League’s top scoring freshman (11.6 ppg) and eighth overall
• The Mountain Hawks are second in the League in scoring defense (55.4 ppg)
• Holy Cross is pacing the League in field goal percentage, hitting 42.1 percent of its attempts
• Lehigh won both contests last season, 75-60 in Bethlehem, Pa., and 75-73 in Worcester.

LEHIGH Katie O’Reilly led all scorers and three Mountain Hawks in double figures with 15 points, while Kerry 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 ... Lehigh returns home to host American Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena on Service Electric 2 Sports.

HOLY CROSS Alex Smith scored a game-high 20 points and moved up the Patriot League’s all-time chart in 3-pointers to guide Holy Cross to an 83-66 victory over Brown Tuesday afternoon in Worcester, Mass. ... Smith hit 7 of 13 from the floor and shot 6 of 12 from beyond the arc, giving her 214 treys for her career, placing her in a sixth-place tie in League annals ... Amy Lepley chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, Raquel Scott added 11 points, and Brisje Malone scored nine points with nine assists ... The Crusaders used several runs in this game to first overcome an early deficit and then pull away in the second half ... Holy Cross closed the first frame on a 19-6 rally, including an 8-1 run right before the buzzer, to take a 39-32 lead into the break ... The Crusaders opened the second with a 16-5 spurt, powered by five points by Malone and back-to-back 3s from Smith to put the Crusaders ahead 55-37 at the 14:34 mark ... The teams traded runs, as Brown scored seven consecutive points before Holy Cross poured in the next 10 for a 65-44 lead just past the midway point of the second stanza ... Holy Cross outrebounded Brown 43-26, and both clubs sank a total of 10 3-pointers and hit over 44 percent of their attempts from the field ... The Crusaders play their second of two straight League games at home Wednesday when they host Navy at 7 p.m. on WCTR Channel 3.

Bender Arena (3,044); Washington, D.C. • Saturday, 2 p.m.
Series: American, 21-6
Streak: American, 12 Last Meeting: American, 70-47 (Washington, D.C.; 2.4.12)
Last Colgate Win: 66-53 (Hamilton, N.Y.; 2.10.07) Last Five Games: American, 5-0

• American’s longest win streak against a League opponent is 12 versus Colgate
• The Eagles have won 15 straight regular season League games dating back to 2010-11
• Colgate enters League play with its best record since starting 7-5 in its Patriot League championship season in 2003-04
• Raider senior Jhazmine Lynch reached the 1,000-point mark in a win Dec. 29 over New Hampshire
• Lynch leads Colgate in scoring (8.4 ppg), while freshman Josie Stockill is the leading rebounder (4.9 rpg)
• American coach Matt Corkery leads the League in win percentage in League play at .821 (46-10)
• The Eagles have won six in a row over Colgate at Bender Arena
• American leads the League in 3-point shooting (.350), while Colgate is tops in 3-point defense (.259)
• American swept the 2011-12 series 70-47 at home and 56-43 in Hamilton, N.Y.

COLGATE Jhazmine 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 ... Mariah 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 ... The Raiders are back on the road for another League game Wednesday when they visit Bucknell at 7 p.m.

AMERICAN Hampton’s Alyssa Bennett sank a 3-pointer as time expired in overtime to defeat American 61-58 Sunday afternoon at Bender Arena ... Geleisa 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 ... American will head to Lehigh Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip at Stabler Arena.

Alumni Hall (5,710); Annapolis, Md. • Sunday, Noon
Series: Navy, 38-20 TV: CBS Sports Network (Bob Socci and Chris Spatola)
Streak: Navy, 2 Last Meeting: Navy, 63-47 (Annapolis, Md.; 2.4.12)
Last Lafayette Win: 58-53 (Easton, Pa.; 2.12.11) Last Five Games: Navy, 4-1

• Navy hosts Lafayette in the first of three Patriot League games to be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network in 2012-13
• The Mids swept the season series last year 60-55 in Easton and 63-47 in Annapolis
• Navy trailed 30-18 at halftime in the first meeting last season on the road before rallying for the five-point win
• Lafayette was last 7-8 entering League play in 2010-11, Dianne Nolan’s first season as head coach
• Lafayette junior center Danielle Fiacco leads the League in blocks (3.9 bpg) and second in rebounding (9.3 rpg)
• The Mids have won 17 straight in Annapolis versus the Leopards. Lafayette's last win at Alumni Hall was a 51-49 decision Feb. 7, 1996
• The programs have met annually since 1979-80 and at least twice per season since 1991-92.
• The teams are tied 13-13 in Easton, while Navy owns a 24-6 advantage in Annapolis
• Navy leads the League averaging 7.4 made 3-pointers per game, while Lafayette’s 3-point defense is third (29.9 percent)

LAFAYETTE kept the Patriot League’s positive momentum going entering conference play this weekend with a 49-47 win at Columbia Wednesday evening ... Sophomore forward Emily Homan tied the game high with 16 points and added 13 rebounds for the double-double in 28 minutes off the bench to pace the Leopards ... Normally a starter, Homan was forced to start the game on the bench after being hit with a ball and momentarily injured during warmups ... Linnel Macklin added 10 points, Brya Freeland chipped in six assists and Danielle Fiacco blocked five shots in the win ... The Leopards hung close in the first half, trailing by six points on two separate occasions before trailing 29-27 at the intermission ... Lafayette scored the first six points of the second half with Fiacco, Freeland and Macklin tallying buckets ... A Homan layup put Lafayette up 39-32 with 15:13 to play ... The Lions rallied back and took a 46-43 lead with under eight minutes to play, forcing Leopard coach Dianne Nolan to call timeout ... Homan’s layup allowed Lafayette to regain the lead 47-46 with 3:19 to play, and Fiacco’s jumper in the paint gave the Leopards a 49-47 advantage with less than two minutes left ... Columbia had four cracks at the basket in the final 1:53 but came up empty on each try, including a missed 3 at the buzzer ... The Leopards return home Wednesday to host Army at 7 p.m. on the Lafayette Sports Network.

NAVY Princeton used a game-ending 15-0 run to put away Navy 70-50 Tuesday night in New Jersey ... Jade Geif tied the game high with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Mids, while Kara Pollinger chipped in 11 ... Navy couldn’t overcome four Tigers hitting double figures in scoring, with Niveen Rasheed leading the way with 18 points and 11 boards ... It was an even game and both teams were scoring, with the Tigers up 20-19 midway through the first ... Princeton used a 16-1 run to take a 33-20 lead and was up 36-26 at the half ... The Mids showed their resiliency by climbing back from a pair of double-digit deficits in the second half, closing the gap to 55-50 on Geif’s layup with just under five minutes remaining ... Michelle Miller hit a 3 and Blake Dietrick sank a layup to spark Princeton’s late run ... Navy was outgunned on the boards 42-32, and Princeton shot 48 percent to the Mids’ 37 ... Navy hits the road Wednesday to visit Holy Cross at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Patriot League title game ... Navy won 57-48 to capture its second straight championship.