Patriot League Women's Basketball Release - 11.15.11

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Jhazmine Lynch leads Colgate into its Tuesday contest at Cornell.
Jhazmine Lynch leads Colgate into its Tuesday contest at Cornell.

Nov. 15, 2011

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Three teams picked up victories during the opening weekend of the 2011-12 season for the eight Patriot League teams. American, Army and Bucknell secured wins, while five teams will look to capture their first triumphs of the season as the first full week of play gets underway.

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Lisa Strack was named the Anaconda Player of the Week Monday after averaging 12.5 points per game during the Eagles' 1-1 weekend, which included a 55-51 victory at George Mason to open the campaign. In that game against the Patriots, she recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. She pitched in 13 points with eight boards in Sunday's 68-64 double-overtime loss to a James Madison team that went 26-8 a year ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Army and Bucknell were the other two teams to earn weekend wins. The Black Knights opened the season with an impressive 70-46 win over Wagner Friday, and played a back-and-forth affair Sunday before falling 53-50 to Seton Hall. Molly Yardley's attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer was blocked.

The Bison clamped down on defense and stifled Saint Peter's in a 46-35 season-opening win Friday. It was an impressive collegiate debut for Amy Zehner, who logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bucknell fell 63-43 at Rider Sunday despite an 11-point, nine-rebound performance from junior Felicia Mgbada.

Six games dot the schedule the next two days. Colgate, which looks to rebound from Friday's defeat to Bryant, heads to Ithaca, N.Y., to visit Cornell Tuesday, while American will play its second straight at home when it hosts Oakland. Four games are slated for Wednesday with Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross and Lehigh all in action.

All teams are idle Thursday before the schedule picks up again for the weekend.

Patriot League Weekly Awards (11.7-11.13)

LISA STRACK, AMERICAN Sr., G, Langhorne, Pa.
12.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spg, .333 FG%, .727 FT%

17.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .727 FG%

JEN HAZLETT, ARMY So., G/F, Syracuse, Utah
14.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, .647 FG%, .500 3FG%

19.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.0 spg, .500 FG%

15.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 spg, .348 FG%, .875 FG%

Patriot League Notebook

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.

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.

Three of the six players to garner a place on the Preseason All-League team are sophomores. Bucknell's Shelby Romine looks to build on a a remarkable freshman campaign in which she led all League rookies in scoring with 13.5 points per game. In addition to being the League's top scorer back, she boasts the highest assist-per-game average (3.6) of any returning player. Holy Cross' Alex Smith was also named to the Preseason All-League team after averaging 11.1 points and 3.4 assists per game for the Crusaders, who are trying to improve on their 10-20 mark and 6-8 showing in the League from a year ago.

A pair of senior forwards look to lead Lehigh in its quest back to the top of the Patriot League mountain. Emily Gratch and Alexa Williams were recognized as Preseason All-Leaguers last month, and for good reason. Gratch is Lehigh's top returning scorer and was third on the team last season averaging 10.4 points per game while pulling down 4.6 rebounds per contest. Williams played in all 32 games last year and made 18 starts, averaging 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. Williams will share the team's captaincy duties this season with senior guard Aly Byorick for 17th-year head coach Sue Troyan.

Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons and his counterpart at Army, Dave Magarity, enter the 2011-12 campaign approaching a pair of milestones. Gibbons sits at 496 career victories, all of which have come while being the leading voice for the Crusaders. Magarity began the season with 398 and Friday's win over Wagner puts him one away from the 400 mark. Gibbons is in his 27th season in Worcester, Mass., while Magarity enters his sixth season at West Point and 29th overall in a career in which he has coached both men and women. A third milestone that seems likely to be reached this season is the 300-win mark for Navy's Stefanie Pemper, the reigning Coach of the Year. Pemper sits with 288 career victories.

Lafayette's Danielle Fiacco was enjoying a tremendous freshman campaign a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury in a League contest against Army. In 21 games and 11 starts, Fiacco averaged 6.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and collected an astonishing 71 blocks. Her rejections total is second in Lafayette single-season history and she was on her way to challenging the League record for a single season before her injury. Now healthy, Fiacco is Lafayette's top returning scorer from a season ago and looks to continue dominating the paint as the Leopards attempt to challenge for the League crown under second-year head coach Dianne Nolan. Fiacco has nine blocks on the season in two games.

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.

With a lot of new faces in the starting lineup, Army will look to get off to a great start to the season by playing seven of its first 10 games at home. The Black Knights open with Wagner Friday night and entertain BIG EAST opponent Seton Hall Sunday. The seven-in-10 stretch ends Dec. 6 when Army welcomes Binghamton to Christl Arena. Meanwhile, Lehigh, which is coming off its third straight 20-win season, opens its season at La Salle Friday at 3 p.m. and plays six of its first seven games away from home. The Mountain Hawks play three consecutive contests on the road before their home opener Nov. 19 against St. Peter's. They will play another three straight on the road after that, including a matchup at Rutgers. Lehigh totals just two games at home, with the second coming against another BIG EAST opponent in Villanova Nov. 30.

For most, Thanksgiving is a time for getting together with family or friends, catching up with loved ones and sharing a big meal of turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. It's also a busy time for basketball teams, and this year is no different for the eight Patriot League schools. All eight will have some competition that weekend, with four clubs participating in tournaments. Lafayette and Lehigh will both participate in the Thanksgiving Challenge against Northeast Conference opponents. American and Colgate will vie for the most miles logged when both head to the West Coast for the turkey holiday. The Eagles will compete in the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Tournament, while the Raiders will play two in a bracket hosted by Cal State Northridge.

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.

For the second season in a row, the Patriot League Tournament will be contested on the home courts of the higher seeds in all rounds of the bracket. In recent years the quarterfinals and semifinals have been hosted at one central location, with just the championship game being played at the site of the better seed. That means this season there is even more emphasis on League play. Teams will be playing not only for seeding, but also for the opportunity to host one (or more) games in the Patriot League Tournament. The Patriot League Tournament semifinals are slated for Thursday, March 1, the semifinals Monday, March 5 and the championship game Saturday, March 10 at 6 p.m.

For the fifth consecutive year, most of the Patriot League men and women's basketball games starting in January will be available online through the Patriot League All-Access subscription. For $7.95 a month, fans will be able to view streams of the available League contests right in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, a monthly subscription will give fans access to archived broadcasts and events. Fans can also purchase a yearly subscription for $19.95, making available every premium All-Access event for a 12-month period, including the basketball games and upcoming Patriot League championship events. All-Access also features several pieces of free contest posted weekly, including Top Plays of the Week, the Student-Athlete Interview series, recaps and previews.

Patriot League schools once again excelled when the NCAA released its most recent Academic Progress Rate in May. Ninety-seven percent of League teams came in at or above the national Division I four-year average score of 970. In addition, over 65 percent of League teams tallied a score of 990 or better. Eighty-two teams from full-member institutions and 73 League-sponsored squads were awarded NCAA Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent of their sport's APR.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN Senior Lisa Strack powered the Eagles to a 55-51 season-opening victory Friday at George Mason ... Strack picked up her first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to pace American, while Ti'Asia McGeorge scored a career-high 13 in her first career start ... Strack led American with 13 points and eight rebounds and Stephanie Anya tallied her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, but the Eagles fell 68-64 to visiting James Madison in double overtime in their home opener Sunday ... American led by as many as eight in the second half but fell behind late before Anya went 1-for-2 from the foul line to force overtime ... James Madison scored the final five points to take the win ... The Eagles play host to Oakland Tuesday at 7 p.m.

ARMY Junior Molly Yardley, Army's lone returning starter from last season, scored a game-high 16 points to lead three Black Knights in double figures in a 70-46 walloping of Wagner Friday ... Junior Anna Simmers pitched in 14 while sophomore Jen Hazlett tallied 13 in the 24-point victory ... In a game that featured 18 lead changes, Army fell 53-50 at home to Seton Hall Sunday ... The Black Knights trailed by nine with two minutes to play and battle back, but Yardley's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was blocked ... Simmers led the Black Knights with 13 points, while Yardley scored five and grabbed 10 rebounds ... Army visits St. Francis (N.Y.) Wednesday at 7 p.m.

BUCKNELL The Bison overcame a 35.6 percent outing from the field to collect a 46-35 win over St. Peter's at Sojka Pavilion Friday ... Freshman Amy Zehner logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in her collegiate debut to pace the Bison, who also received 11 rebounds from Lindsay Horbatuck and 11 points from Felicia Mgbada ... Bucknell led 36-32 at halftime but managed just seven second-half points and fell 63-43 at Rider Sunday afternoon ... Christina Chukwuedo scored a team-high 16 points while Felicia Mgbada scored 11 with nine rebounds ... The Bison host Youngstown State Wednesday at 7 p.m.

COLGATE The Raiders led by as many as 20 in the first half, but Bryant put together a 21-6 second-half run to nip the Raiders 76-74 in Hamilton, N.Y. in Friday's season opener ... Colgate opened the contest on a 29-9 run and led 46-38 at halftime ... Candice Green led all players with 21 points, while Jhazmine Lynch scored 19 and Mariah Jones pitched in 13 in her debut ... Colgate plays at Cornell Tuesday at 7 p.m., and heads to Burlington, Vt., for a pair of games starting Friday.

HOLY CROSS Anaconda Rookie of the Week Emily Parker logged 17 points off the bench for Holy Cross but it wasn't enough as the Crusaders fell 76-71 at Yale Friday ... The Crusaders fell despite shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and owning a 33-28 edge on the glass ... The Crusaders could not overcome No. 4 Connecticut's first-half runs of 9-0 and 16-0 and trailed 38-17 at halftime in Sunday's 77-37 loss ... Amy Lepley, Alex Smith and Brisje Malone scored eight points apiece to pace Holy Cross, which shot just 23.2 percent from the floor and sank 3-of-15 from downtown ... Holy Cross hosts Quinnipiac Wednesday at 7 p.m.

LAFAYETTE A cold start to the second half spelled doom for Lafayette, which fell 64-56 at Rider Friday night ... The Leopards were led by Ashley Springer's 10 points off the bench, while Sarah McGorry collected a career-high 14 rebounds ... Lafayette held a 49-38 edge on the glass and turned 17 offensive boards into 12 second-chance points, but the Leopards scored just one field goal in the first 11:02 of the second half to see a two-point halftime deficit balloon to 15 ... Fiacco led three Leopards in double figures with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in Monday's 87-47 loss to Princeton ... She also added six blocks to give her nine on the season ... The Leopards visit Syracuse Saturday at 7 p.m.

LEHIGH Alexa Williams tallied a game-high 16 points and grabbed nine boards, but Lehigh fell 63-43 at La Salle Friday afternoon ... Kelly Peterson added eight points while Sarah Pearce and Sarah O'Reilly logged seven apiece ... The Mountain Hawks struggled offensively in the first half and were down 37-24 at the break ... Lehigh trailed Saint Joseph's 36-19 at halftime and mounted a second-half comeback, cutting the deficit to 10 before ultimately falling 66-48 in Philadelphia Sunday ... Williams scored a team-high 14 points, including an 8-of-10 showing at the foul line, while she and Becky Guman tallied seven rebounds apiece ... Lehigh visits Sacred Heart Wednesday at 7 p.m.

NAVY The Mids were outscored 30-15 in the final 20 minutes and shot just 27.3 percent in the second half in a 56-39 loss to Richmond in Annapolis, Md., Friday night ... With the game tied at 27 two minutes into the second frame, the Spiders put together a 9-0 run and never looked back ... Jade Geif scored a team-high 10 points, while Alix Membreno logged nine points and eight rebounds ... The Mids hit on 5-of-21 from the floor in the first half but played stellar defense and trailed 17-12 at the break before falling 42-38 Sunday at Loyola (Md.) ... Geif shared the team lead of eight points with Audrey Bauer, while Geif pulled down 10 rebounds ... Navy is at William & Mary Friday at 7 p.m.