Anna Simmers and Army will put their two-game win streak on the line Wednesday against Manhattan.
Nov. 22, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - For some, the Thanksgiving holiday provides a break for a day or two from the daily grind. That's not the case in basketball, and certainly not for the eight Patriot League women's basketball schools, some of which have big travel plans later this week.
The eight squads combined for a 5-5 record over the weekend, with American capping off the .500 stretch with its 48-41 victory Monday night at Youngstown State. The Eagles are riding a two-game win streak and are off until Friday when they play two games out west at the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational.
Army, like American, is riding a two-game win streak and will try to make it three straight when it hosts Manhattan Wednesday at 5 p.m. at West Point. The Black Knights have taken advantage of their early helping of home games, and will remain close for the holiday. Army welcomes Manhattanville to West Point Friday night to complete its three-game homestand.
The biggest story of the week is Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner, who became the first player in history named both the Anaconda Player and Rookie of the Week for the same period. The Tamaqua, Pa., native averaged 22.5 points across two contests last week and became the eighth rookie in Bison history to score at least 20 points in back-to-back games.
Five games populate Tuesday's schedule, with four slated for 7 p.m. Colgate hosts Sacred Heart, Holy Cross welcomes in-state rival Massachusetts, Bucknell entertains Morgan State and Lafayette travels to St. Peter's. Lehigh will wait until 7:30 p.m. to tip off at Rutgers, ranked No. 13 in Monday's AP Top 25 and 15th in last week's ESPN/USA Top 25.
Army's match with Manhattan is the only scheduled contest Wednesday, and all teams are off Thursday for Thanksgiving. Six games are set for Friday with three more on Saturday.
Patriot League Weekly Awards (11.14-20)
ANACONDA PLAYER AND ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
AMY ZEHNER, BUCKNELL Fr., G/F, Tamaqua, Pa.
22.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 3.0 spg, 2.5 apg, .477 FG%
HONORABLE MENTION PERFORMANCES LAST WEEK
LISA STRACK, AMERICAN Sr., G, Langhorne, Pa.
16.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 bpg, .476 FG%, .455 3FG%
JEN HAZLETT, ARMY So., G/F, Syracuse, Utah
15.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 spg, .480 FG%, .556 3FG%
JADE GEIF, NAVY So., F, Lakeville, Minn.
19.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, .700 FG%, .833 FT%
DANIELLE FIACCO, LAFAYETTE So., C, Brewster, N.Y.
13.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.0 bpg, .480 FG%
Patriot League Notebook
Two of the three teams that tied for the regular-season title in the Patriot League a season ago and coincidentally took second and third in the preseason poll picked up their first wins of the 2011-12 campaign in weekend action. Defending champion Navy cracked the win column thanks to a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double showing from sophomore Jade Geif and a career-high 14 points from junior Chey Arvin in a 61-58 victory at William & Mary Friday night in Williamsburg, Va. One night later Lehigh snapped its three-game skid with a 64-48 win at home against visiting St. Peter's. Senior Alexa Williams had 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while freshman guard Katie O'Reilly had 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals while shooting 5 of 12 from the floor.
ZEHNER'S HISTORIC FEAT
It was bound to happen at some point, and Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner finally accomplished it Monday when she was named to both the Patriot League Anaconda Player and Rookie of the Week awards after averaging 22.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game last week for the Bison. Her 25-point outburst against Youngstown State was the largest point total by a Patriot Leaguer this season, and she became the eighth freshman in Bucknell history to record back-to-back games of at least 20 points when she scored 20 Saturday night at Buffalo.
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 four-team events. Lafayette and Lehigh will both play in the Thanksgiving Challenge against Northeast Conference opponents, with Friday's action taking place at Lafayette's Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa. 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 Invitational, while the Raiders will play two in a bracket hosted by Cal State Northridge.
THE FIRST MILESTONE FALLS
Jen Hazlett scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting to lead Army to its 59-43 win at St. Francis (N.Y.) Wednesday, delivering head coach Dave Magarity the 400th victory of his career, which has spanned three decades and includes 87 wins at West Point. Army led by five at the half after shooting 57 percent from the floor, and pulled away in the second half as the team collected 21 bucks and 17 assists. Magarity is now the third coach in the League with at least 400 career victories, joining Lafayette's Dianne Nolan (528) and Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross (497). Magarity collected career win No. 401 and is 88-65 at Army after Saturday's win over Fairleigh Dickinson. He is coaching in his sixth season at West Point and 29th overall.
GIBBONS NEXT, PEMPER AND FEDORJAKA AFTER
The next coach that appears primed to reach a significant milestone is the aforementioned Bill Gibbons. He is in his 27th year as the head coach at Holy Cross and owns a 497-289 mark. After Gibbons, Navy's Stefanie Pemper sits with 289 career victories, making 300 a very realistic possibility this season, following Friday's triumph at William & Mary. Bucknell's Kathy Fedorjaka, who recorded win No. 200 as Bison head coach last season, has 275 overall wins.
FRESHMEN SHINE IN EARLY GOING
The Patriot League has had a steady crop of impactful freshmen the last several years, and it appears as though 2011-12 will be no different. Bucknell's Amy Zehner scored a game-high 25 points with five rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals in the Bison's heartbreaking 57-56 loss Wednesday to Youngstown State and added 20 more in a 63-57 loss at Buffalo Saturday. She was named both the Anaconda Player and Rookie of the Week Monday. While Zehner was doing everything for the Bison, Emily Parker of Holy Cross was leading the way with 20 points and eight boards in the Crusaders' 80-70 win last week over Quinnipiac. A pair of rookies have been providing support for Colgate junior Jhazmine Lynch, with Mariah Jones averaging 7.3 points and Kelly Reid grabbing 6.3 rebounds per contest.
AMERICAN NAMED PRESEASON FAVORITE
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 GEIF NAMED PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
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.
EASTON EXCITED FOR HEALTHY FIACCO
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 13 blocks on the season in three games.
HAYS FORT TAKES THE REIGNS AT COLGATE
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 and a pair of freshmen in Mariah Jones and Kelly Reid who are immediately contributing.
CBS SPORTS NETWORK BROADCASTS THE PATRIOT LEAGUE
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.
FIGHTING FOR HOME COURT
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.
AMERICAN Lisa Strack matched a career high with 24 points and tallied seven rebounds, four assists and three steals as American posted a convincing 77-62 win over Mount St. Mary's Friday night at Bender Arena ... Strack shot 6 of 12 from the floor, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and a perfect 8 of 8 from the foul line ... Ti'Asia McGeorge chipped in 15 points and Tori Halvorsen added 11, both off the bench ... American shot 13 of 28 from the floor in both halves and finished 11 of 22 from beyond the arc ... Sophomore Alexis Dobbs tied a game high with 14 points and Strack pitched in 13 as the Eagles won their second consecutive game and moved above the .500 mark for the second time this season with Monday's 48-41 win at Youngstown State ... Junior Stephanie Anya grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and added six points ... She and Strack tied for the team lead with three blocks apiece ... American held Youngstown State to just 17 percent shooting (5 of 29) on 3-pointers and 27 percent (15 of 56) from the floor for the game ... Matt Corkery will be coaching his 100th game on the American sideline when the Eagles take on Austin Peay Friday at 10 p.m. on the first night of the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
ARMY closed out the game on a 25-7 run to post a 51-37 victory over visiting Fairleigh Dickinson Saturday afternoon at Christl Arena ... Sophomore Jessica Waggoner had a coming out party with career-highs in points (11) and rebounds (eight) to lead the Black Knights, who have won three of their first four games ... Jen Hazlett pitched in 11 points and also grabbed eight boards, while Olivia Schretzman collected a game-high nine rebounds ... Army trailed 26-25 before unleashing its game-ending run ... Army's win last week at St. Francis (N.Y.) was the team's first victory in a road opener since 2007-08 ... The Black Knights are off to their best start since 2006-07, which was head coach Dave Magarity's first season ... That season the team posted a program-record 24 victories ... Army is back in action Wednesday hosting Manhattan at 5 p.m. ... The Black Knights' three victories have come by an average of 18.0 points per contest.
BUCKNELL trailed by as many as 14 points but cut the deficit to three in the final minute but couldn't complete the comeback in a 63-57 loss at Buffalo Saturday evening ... Amy Zehner went 9 of 21 from the floor and scored 20 points for the second straight game, and Lindsay Horbatuck collected a career-best 16 rebounds in the loss ... The Bison shot just 37 percent for the game and were 2 of 12 on 3-pointers ... Shelby Romine scored 11 points and sank two free throws with 50 seconds left to make it a 60-57 game, but that was as close as Bucknell would get ... Zehner's offensive outburst last week moves her into a tie for second in the League in scoring with 14.8 points per game ... She's tied with Army's Jen Hazlett ... Horbatuck has taken over the League lead with 9.3 rebounds per game, just ahead of Lehigh's Alexa Williams (9.0) ... The Bison are home for Morgan State Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. before taking a road trip to Niagara for a 7 p.m. tip Friday night.
COLGATE Jhazmine Lynch scored 11 points and freshman Kelly Reid collected a career-best 12 rebounds, but Colgate fell 61-49 Friday to host Vermont to start two days at the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vt. ... Reid had six points to go with her boards, while Tricia Oakes scored 10 and Candice Green added seven ... Vermont jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the first eight minutes of the game and the Raiders could not recover ... Colgate trailed 27-11 at halftime and 45-21 with 10:26 to go, but mounted a furious comeback and nearly pulled it off in a 56-50 loss to Dartmouth Saturday in the Raiders' second game at the TD Bank Classic ... Lynch led the Raiders with 14 points, while Kelly Korkowski pulled down a team-high eight rebounds ... Tricia Oakes had eight points, six rebounds, three steals and a block ... Colgate pulled within 50-47 with 1:13 left thanks to seven straight points from Lynch, but it wouldn't get any closer ... The Raiders finished 17 of 70 from the floor and just 4 of 22 from beyond the arc ... Lynch finished the week averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, and had a game-high 17 points last Tuesday against Cornell ... Reid averaged 6.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game during the week and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line ... Colgate hosts Sacred Heart Tuesday at 7 p.m. before heading to the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by Cal State Northridge beginning Friday.
HOLY CROSS Amy Lepley tied the game high with 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists, but Holy Cross fell 54-43 at home to Fordham Saturday afternoon ... The Crusaders hit just 4 of 16 3-point attempts and went 8 of 30 from the field in the second half to finish at 31 percent for the game ... Meredith Ward added 12 points, while Alex Smith scored seven points with seven rebounds and three steals ... Freshman Emily Parker is sixth in the League and the second highest among freshmen averaging 13.0 points per game ... She's second among rookie behind Bucknell's Amy Zehner ... Lepley currently sits eighth in the League averaging 11.8 points per contest, while Ward is tied for 12th at 10.3 points per outing ... Ward's 15 points against Quinnipiac last week were a season high, and she's reached double digits in points in each of her last two appearances ... The Crusaders are home Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tip against Massachusetts ... The game will close out a three-game homestand for Holy Cross, which will play its next three on the road at Harvard, Central Connecticut and New Hampshire.
LAFAYETTE went into the locker room down 31-30 but Syracuse ran away in the second half as the Leopards fell 74-54 Saturday night at the Carrier Dome ... Danielle Fiacco, Sarah McGorry and Emily Homan tallied 11 points apiece to lead Lafayette, while Fiacco added eight rebounds and four blocks ... The Leopards shot 13 of 23 in the first half but couldn't keep it up in the second, shooting 31 percent and going 0 for 7 on 3s after the break ... Before meeting Lafayette, Syracuse had won its first two games by 39 and 42 points, scoring over 80 and allowing no more than 45 in each contest ... The Leopards, who trailed by just one point at the half, scored 54 points on Saturday and limited the Orange to 74 ... Fiacco leads the League with 4.3 blocks per game and ranks in the top 10 in scoring (11.7 ppg, ninth) and rebounding (8.0 rpg, tied for third) ... Lafayette heads to St. Peter's Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tipoff and then hosts Wagner Friday at 4 p.m. as part of the Thanksgiving Challenge that also includes rival Lehigh and Monmouth.
LEHIGH snapped its season-opening three-game skid with a 64-48 win Saturday night in its home-opener against St. Peter's ... The Mountain Hawks shot just 22 percent from the floor in the first half but led 28-18 at halftime and never looked back ... Alexa Williams posted a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds as Lehigh won the battle of the glass 52-42 ... Aly Byorick scored 15 points and all four of her buckets from the field were 3-pointers ... Williams averaged 12.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game for the Mountain Hawks last week and went 11 of 15 from the foul line ... The senior forward is fifth in the League averaging 13.8 points and second with 9.0 rebounds per contest ... Williams sits sixth in the League hitting on 80.6 percent of her charity stripe attempts ... The Mountain Hawks will face their toughest test of the season to date when they visit Rutgers Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ... The Scarlet Knights moved up to No. 13 in Monday's Associated Press Top 25 and were ranked 15th in last week's ESPN/USA Today Top 25 ... Lehigh will play Monmouth at Lafayette Friday evening as part of the Thanksgiving Challenge and take on Wagner Sunday at Staten Island, N.Y. to complete the holiday tournament.
NAVY used a late 7-0 run to squeeze past William & Mary, 61-58, Friday night in Williamsburg, Va. ... Sophomore Jade Geif posted a game-high 19 points and added 10 rebounds and a career-best five assists for the seventh double-double of her career, while Chey Arvin scored a career-high 14 on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc to pace the Mids ... Geif was one point shy of her career high, and 14 of her points came after halftime ... Navy dominated the glass, 46-26, and had more defensive rebounds (29) than the Tribe had total boards ... Arvin's 3-pointer with 2:15 left put Navy up 57-55, and Geif scored a bucket and sank a pair of free throws to complete the decisive spurt ... Geif, the Preseason Player of the Year and last season's Rookie of the Year and Patriot League Tournament MVP, is up to seventh in the League averaging 12.3 points per game, while her 8.0 rebounds per contest are tied for third ... The Mids' top three scorers are all underclassmen ... Behind Geif is sophomore Audrey Bauer (7.0 ppg) and junior Chey Arvin (7.0 ppg) ... Navy isn't in action until Saturday, when it closes out a string of three straight road games across nearly two full weeks when it visits Mount St. Mary's at 3 p.m. ... Navy will be back home Monday for a 7 p.m. tip against Academy rival Air Force.