Holy Cross Looks to Continue Season Sunday in WBI

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Bill Gibbons looks to guide Holy Cross to the semifinals of the WBI against Manhattan Sunday.
Bill Gibbons looks to guide Holy Cross to the semifinals of the WBI against Manhattan Sunday.

March 18, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The 2011-12 basketball season continues for one Patriot League team Sunday as Holy Cross hosts Manhattan at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass., at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).

Patriot League Women's Basketball Postseason Update Get Acrobat Reader

The Crusaders, seeded fourth in the East Region of the tournament, scored a 63-59 victory over No. 5 New Hampshire Thursday night. Alex Smith paced Holy Cross with 20 points, including 12 from beyond the arc, giving her 82 3-pointers for the season to move her up the League’s single-season top 10.

The Crusaders are hosting a Manhattan Jaspers team that is seeded eighth in the East Region and is coming off a 77-54 win over top seed Robert Morris.

The winner of Sunday’s match will take on the winner between Bradley and Minnesota, also set for Sunday at 3 p.m., in the semifinals on either March 21 or 22.

While Holy Cross gears up for its WBI contest, the other two League teams to reach the postseason wrapped up their seasons over the last several days.

Navy, seeded 15th in the Raleigh Regional of the NCAA Tournament, gave No. 2 seed Maryland a tough battle before the Terps pulled away in the second half in a 59-44 loss Saturday in College Park, Md. Jade Geif led the Mids with 14 points and seven rebounds. Navy was getting looks but shot 30.5 percent for the game and went 1 of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half.

American earned a bid to the WNIT as the Patriot League’s regular-season champion, but the Eagles fell 58-39 at Villanova in a first-round matchup Thursday. American hit just 14 field goals in the game and shot 28 percent. Alexis Dobbs led the Eagles with eight points, while Lisa Strack and Jen Dumiak had seven points and eight rebounds apiece.

Patriot League Postseason Notebook

Holy Cross’ 63-59 win over New Hampshire Thursday in the first round of the WBI was the first postseason victory for a Patriot League team since 1991. That year the 11th-seeded Crusaders defeated No. 6 Maryland 81-74 in Worcester, Mass., to advance to the tournament’s second round.

Holy Cross sophomore guard Alex Smith, a first-team All-Patriot League selection this season, sank four 3-pointers in Thursday’s win over the Wildcats. She has 82 for the season, matching her total from last season and tying herself for sixth on the League’s single-season top 10 in made 3s. Smith has also been the League’s top distributor most of the season, averaging over five dishes per game, which has consistently ranked her in the nation’s top 25. Her 183 assists are seventh on the League’s single-season top 10 and are four shy of Lehigh’s Erica Prosser, who had 187 a year ago.

Holy Cross and Manhattan will meet for the first time since March 1990, the final season in which the Crusaders were members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference before joining the Patriot League for the 1990-91 campaign. That last contest, which the Jaspers won 78-69 in Philadelphia, was in the championship game of the 1990 MAAC Tournament. Holy Cross own a 10-7 series edge, but Manhattan is 2-0 against the Crusaders in the postseason.

Holy Cross and Manhattan share several common opponents entering Sunday’s contest. The Jaspers have faced Patriot League teams Army and Lafayette during the season and lost to both, while Holy Cross went 2-1 against the Black Knights and 2-0 against the Leopards. Out of conference play, both Holy Cross and Manhattan lost to Fordham, while the Jaspers lost to New Hampshire. The Crusaders own two wins over the Wildcats, including Thursday’s first-round triumph in the WBI.

Jade Geif scored 14 points with seven rebounds, but Navy fell 59-44 to fifth-ranked Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The Mids shot 30.5 percent from the field and sank just 1 of 12 3-pointers in the second half. After Chloe Stapleton’s triple pulled Navy within 37-30, the Terps used an 8-0 run over the next several minutes to extend their lead to 15. The Mids, seeded 15th in the Raleign Regional in this year’s tournament, are expected to return four starters for 2012-13, including Geif, the reigning two-time Patriot League Tournament MVP.

Alexis Dobbs scored eight points while Lisa Strack and Jen Dumiak had seven points and eight rebounds apiece in American’s 58-39 loss at Villanova Thursday in the first round of the WNIT. The Eagles were making their fourth appearance in the postseason tournament in the last five years and the League’s seventh overall. American hit on just 28 percent of its chances from the field and went 4 of 16 from beyond the arc. The Eagles finish the season 23-8, tying the program record for wins, and were the first team to post a perfect 14-0 record in Patriot League play.

A pair of seniors wrapped up their careers on the Patriot League’s 1,000-point list. Lehigh’s Emily Gratch scored 1,112 points in her four years in Bethlehem, Pa., to take over 54th place on the League list, while American’s Lisa Strack is 63rd with 1,059 for her career.

Having just wrapped his fourth season at American, Matt Corkery has improved his coaching record in the nation’s capital to 86-39 overall and an impressive 46-10 in Patriot League contests. That gives him the highest winning percentages of any coach to work in the Patriot League in both categories. His overall winning percentage of .688 inches ahead of Fordham’s Kevin Morris, who went 40-19 (.678) from 1993-95, while his League success rate (.821) puts him in front of both Morris (22-6) and Army’s Maggie Dixon (11-3), who entered the season with the best winning percentages in League games at .786.

WBI Quarterfinals

Hart Center; Worcester, Mass. • Sunday, 3 p.m.
Series: Holy Cross, 10-7
Streak: Manhattan, One Win Last Meeting: Manhattan, 78-69 (3.10.90)
WBI Tournament Series: First Meeting

Holy Cross and Manhattan will meet for the 18th time when they take the floor at the Hart Center Sunday at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the WBI ... It’s the first meeting in 22 years between the two programs, who met annually from 1982-83 through 89-90 when the Crusaders were members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ... The Jaspers are 2-0 all-time against Holy Cross in the postseason, with both wins coming in the MAAC Tournament ... Holy Cross is 7-0 all-time at the Hart Center against Manhattan, including a 74-66 win Feb. 8, 1990 in their last meeting there.

HOLY CROSS For the first time since 1991, a Patriot League women’s basketball team advanced in the postseason when Holy Cross posted a 63-59 victory Thursday night over New Hampshire in the first round of the WBI Tournament ... Alex Smith led Holy Cross with 20 points on 6-of-15 shooting and 4 of 8 on 3-pointers, while Emily Parker narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and nine boards, and Amy Lepley pitched in 10 points ... Bri Malone corralled a game-high 10 rebounds and contributed eight points for the Crusaders (19-14), who will host Manhattan in the second round of the WBI Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Hart Center ... Holy Cross overcame a 24-point effort from New Hampshire’s Denise Beliveau ... The Crusaders were hot early, taking a 13-3 lead at the 13:24 mark and maintaining that advantage before going into halftime up 34-23 ... Holy Cross shot over 40 percent in the first half, with Parker collecting nine points in the first 20 minutes ... New Hampshire replied with a 10-2 run to open the second and took a 39-38 lead with 14:06 on the clock ... Holy Cross regained the lead, and Smith nailed a 3 to put Holy Cross ahead 50-44 just past the midway point of the second frame ... The Crusaders finished off the game going 6 of 6 at the charity stripe to hold the Wildcats at bay ... Holy Cross finished the game shooting 35.9 percent (23 of 64) from the field and just under 30 percent (5 of 17) on 3-pointers, with Smith responsible for all but one of the team’s treys ... The Crusaders outrebounded New Hampshire 45-36, and owned a 14-9 advantage on the offensive glass.