First Place Women's Basketball Team Travels to Army for League Game

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Vanessa Van De Venter is the reigning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.
Vanessa Van De Venter is the reigning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.

Jan. 29, 2008


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Match Up: Lafayette (12-8, 4-1) at Army (13-7, 4-1)
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m.
Site: West Point, N.Y.
Arena:Gillis Field House (2,000)
Radio: WBNR 1260 AM/WLNA 1420 AM
All-Time Series: 21-21
Streak: L, 14
Coach Smith vs. Army: 0-13

TONIGHT'S MATCH-UP: Lafayette and Army enter tonight's contest with matching 4-1 league records and both are currently tied for first in the Patriot League standings. Both teams also enter the game with win streaks, as the Leopards have won four in a row while the Black Knights are riding a two-game streak.

The all-time series is knotted at 21, but Army has won the previous 14 games, including a 70-57 decision the last time these squads met. In that game, Vanessa Van De Venter scored a then career-high 23 points and Emily Garner had a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds), but Lafayette left West Point with a 70-57 loss to the Black Knights.

Van De Venter did all that she could to pull Lafayette out of a substantial hole throughout most of the second half, registering 17 of her points after intermission. The Leopards hung with Army in the second half and held the Black Knights to just 27 percent (6-of-22) percent after the break, but it was not enough to dig out of the deficit established in the opening stanza.

LAST TIME OUT FOR LAFAYETTE: Lafayette came out on top of a 48-45 decision against archrival Lehigh to record its fourth-straight win and move into a tie for first place in the Patriot League. The Leopards handed Lehigh its first league loss of the season and held the Mountain Hawks to their lowest scoring output of the season.

Lehigh led 43-42 with just over four minutes to play, but a block by Emily Garner with 3:44 remaining translated into a three-point play by Vanessa Van De Venter to give the lead back to Lafayette. The Leopards would not relinquish that lead en route to the 48-45 victory. Van De Venter finished with a game-high 17 points, including 12 in the opening half and Lafayette scored 17 points off of Lehigh turnovers.

The game was ultimately decided in the final minute of play. With Lafayette leading 48-45 and one minute on the clock, Lehigh's Kaela Pearce attempted to tie the game with a three-pointer as the clock expired but it bounced off the rim for the Lafayette win.

NEXT UP FOR THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette will play its second-straight road game when the team travels to American on Saturday, Feb. 2, for a 2 p.m. game.

LET'S GO STREAKING!: Lafayette's win over Lehigh extended the Leopards' win streak to four. Lafayette also had a five-game win streak earlier this season. The last time the Leopards had two win streaks of four or more games in a single season was the 1993-94 season. That team finished the season with an overall record of 18-9, a league mark of 9-5 and advanced to the Patriot League championship game.

A CLEAN SWEEP: Lafayette swept the Jan. 28 Patriot League Women's Basketball honors following its wins over Bucknell and Lehigh. Senior Vanessa Van De Venter was named the Offensive Player of the Week while LaKeisha Wright was tabbed the Rookie of the Week. The accolades are the second of the season for both players.

Van De Venter and Wright reached double figures in both games last week. Van De Venter scored 15 points in the overtime win against Bucknell and led all scorers with 17 points against Lehigh. Wright opened the week with 10 points against the Bison and finished with 16 in Lafayette's win over the Mountain Hawks.

LEAGUE LEADERS: As of the Patriot League's Jan. 27 statistics, Lafayette was the league leader in scoring offense, averaging 61.8 points per game. The Leopards edged Army for the number one spot, as the Black Knights are scoring 61.0 points per contest.

In addition, senior Vanessa Van De Venter is the league leader in scoring with her 332 points (16.6 ppg). The next closest is Holy Cross' Briana McFadden (14.1 ppg). Van De Venter's teammate, freshman LaKeisha Wright, leads the conference in field goal percentage with her 47.0 mark. Van De Venter checks in with a 45.9 field goal percentage, good for second in the league, while junior Cristin Zavocki is ranked fourth with a 44.2 percent showing.

ON THE MOVE: With 17 points against Lehigh, senior Vanessa Van De Venter now has 1,245 for her career and stands in sole possession of seventh place on Lafayette's all-time leading scorers list. She needs 38 more to tie Terri Dadio for sixth. Van De Venter, Army's Cara Enright and Bucknell's Hope Foster are the only active Patriot League players with over 1,000 career points.

RECORD WATCH: Vanessa Van De Venter has 572 career rebounds and needs just 13 more to tie Stacy Farrow for 10th all-time in Lafayette history. Van De Venter is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game this season.

A TALE OF TWO SEASONS: Lafayette has shown marked improvement on both ends of the court from last season to this season. On the offensive side, the Leopards are scoring a league-leading 61.8 points per game this year, five more points than their 56.7 ppg mark a year ago.

Their defense has also become one of the best in the league. Opponents are scoring just 59.1 ppg this season, compared to the 64.4 ppg they scored against Lafayette last season. The Leopards are currently ranked third in the league in scoring defense.

FUN FACTS: Following Saturday's win against Lehigh, the Leopards now hold a 4-1 Patriot League record. The last time Lafayette opened league play with a 4-1 mark was the 1993-94 season. In addition, the last time Lafayette defeated Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh and Navy in the same season, as the squad has already done this year, also came during the 1993-94 season. That team finished the season with an 18-9 overall record, a 9-5 mark in league play and advanced to the Patriot League championship game.

EXTRA EXCITEMENT: For the second time this season, the Leopards played an overtime game as their contest against Patriot League foe Bucknell could not be decided in regulation. The last time Lafayette played two overtime games in a single season was in 2005-06.

LET'S GO DEFENSE!: The Leopards went into halftime against Navy trailing 32-28 but their defense came to play in the second half, limiting the Midshipmen to just 12 points in the second period. Not only did those 12 points mark the fewest scored by an opponent in any half this season, it marked the lowest total in a half since American scored just 10 in the opening stanza of a 62-50 Lafayette win on Jan. 27, 2007.

In addition, the Mids shot just 29.4 percent (15-of-51) from the field, the lowest shooting percentage by a Lafayette opponent this season. That mark surpassed the previous low of 30.8 percent shot by NJIT in the Leopards' Dec. 1 win over the Highlanders.

DID YOU KNOW?: Through the first 20 games this season, Lafayette has held three opponents--Vermont (46), Navy (44) and Lehigh (45)--to under 50 points. The 2005-06 season was the last time the Leopards held three teams below 50 points. That year, Wagner managed just 46, Long Island only 48 and Holy Cross just 49 against the Lafayette defense.

ONE STREAK COMES TO AN END, ANOTHER BEGINS: Lafayette's nine-game losing streak against Colgate was snapped with the Jan. 16 victory. The win also marked the second-straight season Lafayette has been victorious in its league home opener as the Leopards recorded a 61-58 win over Holy Cross last season.

GENDER EQUALITY: Both the Lafayette women's and men's basketball teams were victorious against Colgate on Jan. 16. The last time both Lafayette teams recorded same-day victories against the Raiders came nearly 10 years ago on Feb. 21, 1998. The women won a 62-58 decision while the men recorded a 77-66 victory.

ROOKIE RECOGNITION: Following her performances against Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 8 and Holy Cross on Jan. 12, freshman LaKeisha Wright was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week.

Wright opened the week by scoring eight points in a 66-59 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. She played 32 minutes against the Knights, the second-most minutes she's played this season, and finished with four rebounds. Wright followed that performance with 16 points against Holy Cross. She shot 8-of-11 from the field against the Crusaders while also pulling down four boards and adding a game-high five assists.

Wright has started all 20 games at forward this season. She is averaging 10.1 points per game and shooting 47.0 percent from the field. That field goal percentage places her first in the league. Wright is also pulling down nearly six rebounds per game (5.6 rpg) and has 48 assists, good for second on the team.

LET'S PLAY SOME MORE!: Lafayette and Holy Cross took their game into overtime on Jan. 12 in what marked the Patriot League opener for both teams. It was the first overtime game the Leopards have played this season and their first since a 75-71 overtime loss to Navy on Jan. 14, 2006.

FIFTY-FIFTY: The Leopards shot over 51 percent from the field (28-of-54) against Holy Cross, including a 56.5 percent showing in the opening half. That marked the third time this season Lafayette has shot over fifty percent from the field. The first time came in a 64-54 win over St. Francis when the team shot nearly 52 percent from the field (27-of-52), including 59 percent in the second half. The Leopards also shot over 51 percent (24-of-47) against Fairleigh Dickinson.

SUPREMACY FROM BEYOND THE ARC: Junior Cristin Zavocki already set a Lafayette women's basketball record this season with eight made-threes against Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 8. Against Holy Cross, she came close to re-writing the record books again. Zavocki drained six more treys (6-of-8) against the Crusaders to account for all 18 of her points. In addition, the team shot 50 percent (9-of-18) from beyond the arc against Holy Cross.

BREAKOUT GAME: Sophomore Amanda Smith had a career night in the team's 66-59 win over FDU. The center scored a career-high six points in 11 minutes of action off the bench. She sank all three of her field goal attempts and also pulled down two boards and added one assist in the Leopards' winning effort.

DISHING OUT THE ASSISTS: Junior Jessica Spicer had a game-high four assists against La Salle which marked the third-straight game she had recorded four or more assists. This season, Spicer leads the team with 67 assists (3.4 apg) this season.

THREE POINT THRILLER: Cristin Zavocki not only had a career-night against Morgan State with her 26 points, she also made Lafayette women's basketball history. Her eight three-pointers were the most in team history, surpassing Kara Stetler's mark of six, which she reached on three separate occasions.

In addition, Zavocki fell one three-pointer shy of tying the Kirby Sports Center record of nine, set by Brian Lloyd in 1995.

THE LAST TIME...The last time Lafayette won by more than 20 points, as the team did against Morgan State, was over seven years ago when the Leopards recorded a 77-51 win over St. Francis on Nov. 25, 2000.

In addition, the 83 points scored against Morgan State were the most since an 89-80 win over Colgate on Jan. 11, 2003.

HELPING HANDS: The Leopards had a season-best 18 assists against Morgan State. Six different players chipped-in assists with freshman LaKeisha Wright recording a game-high six.

BENCHMARK WIN: The 83-62 win over Morgan State was the 400th in the history of the women's basketball program. The program, now in its 35th season, has played 877 games, compiled an overall record of 405-472 (.462) and has recorded five 20-win seasons.

FREE FOR ALL: The Leopards shot 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the free throw line against Lamar on Dec. 29. The last time a Lafayette team shot over 90 percent from the charity stripe was on Nov. 23, 2005 (15-of-16).

VACATION TIME: The Dec. 28 game against UTPA ended a 19-day layoff for the Leopards that began after the team's Dec. 8 game at Vermont. That marked the longest stretch without a game since the 1995-96 season (19 days: Dec. 9-29).

GO, GO GARNER: Junior Emily Garner's 20 points against Penn tied a career-high, matching her total against NJIT last season. She easily eclipsed her previous season-high of 10 as she scored 11 in the opening stanza alone.

PRIMETIME PLAYER: Senior forward Vanessa Van De Venter's earned Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors on Dec. 3. The Economics and Business major reached double figures in three games, all Lafayette wins. She opened the week by scoring 21 against St. Francis (N.Y.), including her 1,000th career point. Van De Venter followed that performance with a double-double against Coppin State (24 p, 13 r). In the final game of the week against NJIT, she had a career-best 28 points to go along with eight rebounds.

This season, Van De Venter is averaging 16.6 ppg and leads the team in rebounds with 119 (6.0 rpg). She has reached double figures in 18 of 20 contests this year, including two double-doubles.

CAREER DAYS: Senior Vanessa Van De Venter and junior Meaghan Malone both had career days in the win over NJIT. Van De Venter had a personal-best 28 points against the Highlanders, including a career-high 12 from the charity stripe.

Malone finished with 12 points, the first double-digit game of her Lafayette career. Those 12 points included eight from the free throw line, as she sank all eight of her attempts.

RACKING UP THE REBOUNDS: Lafayette pulled down 45 rebounds against NJIT, a season-high. What's even more remarkable is that not a single player finished with double figures, as Emily Garner's nine led the team.

PLAYING THE ROLE OF SPOILER: Lafayette's Nov. 29 win over Coppin State not only extended the Leopards' win streak to three but also ended the Eagles' 22-game home court win streak, the fourth-longest such streak in the nation at the time.

VANDY VAULTS INTO HISTORY: Just six games into the season Lafayette fans had the opportunity to witness history. Senior forward Vanessa Van De Venter became only the 14th Lafayette player to score 1,000-plus points in the program's 35-year history when she finished with 21 points against St. Francis. Her 1,000th career point came on a layup early in the game. Van De Venter also became the first to achieve the milestone since Colleen Fitzpatrick did so during the 2003-04 season.

OFFENSIVE OUTBURST: Lafayette's offense erupted for 78 points in its victory over Princeton as four players reached double figures for the first time since January 25, 2007. The 78 points were the most since Dec. 2, 2005, when the Leopards scored 85 in an overtime loss at Howard. The offensive production against Princeton marked the most points scored in regulation since an 89-80 win at Colgate on Jan. 11, 2003.

Lafayette also shot 47.1 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the charity stripe in the win. That marked the first time this season the Leopards recorded better field goal and free throw percentages than their opponent and it proved to be the formula for success.

DOUBLY DELICIOUS: Senior Vanessa Van De Venter and junior Jessica Spicer each had a double-double against Princeton. Van De Venter finished with 19 points and 10 boards, while Spicer had 13 and 10, respectively. The last Lafayette player to record a double-double was Emily Garner, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Army on Feb. 20 of last season.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE: It's been a long time since two Lafayette players had a double-double in the same game as Van De Venter and Spicer did against Princeton. In fact, you have to go back to the 2005-06 season when Lindsay Myers (15 p, 11 r) and Emily Garner (13 p, 10 r) both accomplished the feat in a 71-59 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 21, 2005.

IT'S ALMOST CRIMINAL: Lafayette's 15 steals against Columbia marked the first time since Feb. 6, 2007, that the Leopards recorded 10 or more steals in a single game. Junior Jessica Spicer accounted for five of those steals, just one shy of her career-high of six (vs. Bucknell, 1/16/07). As of Jan. 28, those 15 steals were tied with American the most in a single game by any Patriot League team this season.

WHAT AN HONOR: Vanessa Van De Venter opened the 2007-08 season on a high note. The senior tri-captain scored in double figures in Lafayette's three games during the first week of the season. She had 12 against Monmouth (11/12), 18 vs. Cornell (11/15) and 17 against Mount St. Mary's (11/17). Those numbers were impressive enough to earn her honorable mention from the Patriot League on Nov. 19.

THE WRIGHT WAY: Freshman LaKeisha Wright scored a game-high 20 points in Lafayette's 71-56 loss to Cornell on Nov. 15. The last freshman to reach double figures in scoring for Lafayette was Emily Garner in 2005, who netted 12 in an overtime battle with Navy on Jan. 14 of her freshman season.

RIGHT AT HOME: The Leopards opened their 2007-08 campaign with a thrilling 65-64 win over Monmouth at Kirby Sports Center. A layup by senior Vanessa Van De Venter with three seconds on the clock lifted the team to the season-opening victory.

With the home-opening win against Monmouth, the Leopards recorded their fourth-straight home-opening victory. The streak began with a 63-47 win over Radford on Dec. 2, 2004.

STEP RIGHT UP: All three of Lafayette's freshmen saw action in the season opener against Monmouth. LaKeisha Wright was given her first collegiate start and finished with five points and three rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Classmates Elizabeth Virgin and Lauren Jackson came off the bench for the Leopards. Virgin saw 22 minutes of playing time and pulled down three rebounds to go along with two points and one assist. Jackson saw three minutes of game action and chipped in one assist.

SMITH ON THE SIDELINES: Head coach Tammy Smith is in her seventh season at Lafayette and 13th overall as a head coach. In 2006-07, she directed the Leopards to its highest-ever seed in the Patriot League Tournament (No. 6) and has nearly doubled her win totals after each season on College Hill.

Smith is the fourth head coach in Lafayette's 35-year history. She has a career record of 152-219 (.410), which includes a 113-68 mark and two NCAA Tournament appearances in seven seasons at D-III Muhlenberg.

ACADEMIC ACCOLADES: The Lafayette women's basketball team received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for recording an NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of all women's basketball teams. The team, under the direction of seventh-year head coach Tammy Smith, was one of 14 other Patriot League squads to have a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for the fall class of 2000.

CLOSE TO HOME: Three players with local connections - Val Gomez (Allentown, Pa./Emmaus), Vanessa Van De Venter (Tannersville, Pa./Pocono Mountain East) and Amanda Leone (Easton, Pa./Easton) - account for over half of Lafayette's five players from the Keystone State. Van De Venter started all 30 games last season and led the team in scoring (12.0 ppg), while Gomez battled through a knee injury and started 12 games last year. Sophomore Leone saw playing time in four games during last season.

PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: The Leopards were picked to finish in a tie for sixth place in the Patriot League's preseason poll. Lafayette received 33 points, as did Navy. Bucknell garnered the top spot with 10 first place votes. Army received four to place second, followed by Holy Cross, American and Lehigh.

 Rank	Team		Points
			1.	Bucknell (10)	92
			2.	Army (4)		83
			3.	Holy Cross (1)	77
			4.	American (1)	62
			5.	Lehigh		46
			6.	Lafayette	33
			6.	Navy		33
			8.	Colgate		22
			() indicates first place votes 

FRESHMEN FACES: Lafayette welcomed three freshmen to the squad this fall: Lauren Jackson, Elizabeth Virgin and LaKeisha Wright.

Jackson hails from Argyle, Texas, where she played four years of varsity basketball at Liberty Christian. She averaged 17.2 points per game and a 46.8 field goal percentage as a senior. She earned first team All-State honors that season and helped guide her team to its first-ever state championship title.

Virgin joins the Leopards from Novato, Calif. She was a four-year member of the basketball team at Marin Catholic and earned three varsity letters. Virgin was also named to the First Team All-MCAL and earned East Bay honorable mention.

An Upper Marlboro, Md. native, Wright played four seasons of basketball at Eleanor Roosevelt. She saw playing time at multiple positions, averaging 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists during her career. Wright amassed 1,000 points during her career and was a member of three state championship teams.

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: There is no denying the chemistry between juniors Jessica Spicer and Emily Garner on the court. Perhaps that is because the two have a long history of playing ball together, beginning an AAU stint when the girls were just 10 years old. They played on the same AAU team from that point in Fairfax, Va., while also both making the varsity team at Robinson High School as freshmen. Midway through their sophomore years, Spicer's family moved to Illinois, but the duo reunited at Lafayette for the 2005-06 season.

LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: For the 11th straight season, Lafayette features the most expansive television package in the Patriot League. This winter, nine of Lafayette's women's basketball games will be televised during the 2007-08 season, with the possibility of three more games being added during the three rounds of the Patriot League Tournament in March.

All nine telecasts will be produced by the Lafayette Sports Network (LSN), which annually produces the most expansive and highest quality television packages in the Patriot League. Each of those broadcasts will air live regionally to more than 10 million viewers on RCN-4 and WBPH-60.

As an element of Lafayette's long-term multi-media agreement with CSTV, all LSN telecasts are streamed live on the internet and available worldwide through LSN All-Access on Lafayette was the first of the partners to make live video streaming available to fans everywhere when the 2000 Lafayette-Lehigh football game aired live on

Emmy-nominated local sports broadcaster Gary Laubach will handle all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the 11th straight season. Former Lafayette men's basketball coach John Leone will provide color analysis for the 10th season. In his seventh year as a member of the announcing crew is RCN's Dan Mowdy, who will report on the Leopards from the sideline.