Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 11.25.11

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Jen Hazlett and Army have two games scheduled over the weekend beginning with Friday's home game with Manhattanville.
Jen Hazlett and Army have two games scheduled over the weekend beginning with Friday's home game with Manhattanville.

Nov. 25, 2011

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — With the Thanksgiving hoilday behind, the eight Patriot League teams embark on a busy weekend, with a pair of teams logging significant miles for games on the West Coast.

Patriot League Women's Basketball Release - 11.25.11 Get Acrobat Reader

Holy Cross and Lafayette picked up victories Tuesday, and Army won its fourth game in five outings Wednesday night to lead to a 3-3 midweek period for the Patriot League. The Black Knights continued their best start since 2006-07, which was the first season for head coach Dave Magarity. That year Army finished with 24 victories.

Lafayette captured its first victory of the season in Tuesday’s 59-50 win at Saint Peter’s. Danielle Fiacco posted a big performance, narrowly missing a triple-double, to lift the Leopards to 1-3 on the season.

Holy Cross logged its second victory of the year with a 76-64 victory over Massachusetts, giving the Crusaders a lift into the holiday weekend. Holy Cross finished out its homestand with a 2-1 record and begins a three-game road trip Sunday at another in-state rival in Harvard.

Friday’s slate of six games opens up a busy weekend for League teams, as is usually the case in the days just after Thanksgiving. Lafayette hosts the first day of the Thanksgiving Challenge Friday. The Leopards play Wagner at 4 p.m., with Lehigh and Monmouth battling at 6 p.m. Army plays host to Manhattanville at 7 p.m., while Bucknell looks to snap its four-game skid at Niagara at 7 p.m. Two teams will head out west with American battling Austin Peay in the first game of the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif., at 10 p.m., while Colgate visits Cal State Northridge at 10:30 p.m.

Saturday’s schedule features three games, while Sunday’s slate has five contests and Monday’s has two.

Patriot League Notebook

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.

After the one-day break for Thanksgiving, the weekend picks up with a very busy schedule. The eight League teams will combine for 16 games during the four-day stretch that begins Friday. Six teams will play that day, with three in action Saturday, five on Sunday and two on Monday.

It’s strange looking at an Army roster and not seeing the name “Erin Anthony,” and while her contributions will not be easy to replace, Black Knight sophomore Jen Hazlett has taken a big step in doing just that. The sophomore, who averaged 2.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 25 games last season, is now leading the Patriot League in scoring (14.4 ppg). She’s getting help too, with juniors Molly Yardley (10.2 ppg) and Anna Simmers (10.0) both averaging in double figures. Freshman Olivia Schretzman leads the Black Knights with 7.0 rebounds per game, followed by Hazlett’s 6.8 per contest.

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.

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.) Nov. 16, delivering head coach Dave Magarity the 400th victory of his career, which has spanned three decades and now includes 89 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 and Bill Gibbons of Holy Cross. Army’s 4-1 start has Magarity up to 402 career victories and 89-65 during his tenure at Army. He is coaching in his sixth season at West Point and 29th overall.

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 498-289 mark after Tuesday’s victory against Massachusetts. 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.

Each of the four classes are well represented in the Patriot League’s top 10 in scoring. Army sophomore Jen Hazlett has overtaken the League lead with 14.4 points per game, while American senior Lisa Strack, the only returning All-League performer from last season, is second with 14.2 per contest. Three seniors are in the top ten, including Lehigh’s Alexa Williams (fifth, 12.6 ppg) and Holy Cross’ Meredith Ward (10th, 11.0). Jhazmine Lynch of Colgate and Holy Cross’ Amy Lepley are the two juniors in the top 10, with Navy’s Jade Geif and Lafayette’s Danielle Fiacco joining Hazlett as the top-10 sophomores. Bucknell’s Amy Zehner and Holy Cross’ Emily Parker are the two rookies rounding out the top 10.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN Sophomore Alexis Dobbs tied a game high with 14 points and Lisa 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 Jen Hazlett led the Black Knights with 13 points and Molly Yardley added 10 as Army used a balanced attack to take a 58-43 victory over Manhattan Wednesday night at Christl Arena at West Point ... Hazlett posted a game-high seven rebounds with three steals and one block, while Olivia Schretzman added eight points and four boards ... Army shot 54 percent from the field in the first half and took a 37-19 lead into the locker room at the break ... The Black Knights finished the game shooting just under 46 percent and owned a 32-25 edge on the glass ... Army hosts Manhattanville Friday at 7 p.m. before visiting Columbia Sunday at 1 p.m.

BUCKNELL whittled an 11-point second-half deficit down to one but could not complete the rally and fell 54-52 to Morgan State Tuesday in Lewisburg, Pa. ... Shelby Romine posted her best offensive output of the young season with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists ... Amy Zehner scored eight points with a game-high 13 rebounds, while Felicia Mgbada ripped down 11 boards and posted a pair of blocks ... The Bison owned a 51-36 edge on the glass, but Morgan State converted 13 of 17 chances from the foul line while Bucknell was 4 of 6 ... The Bison resume play Friday night with a 7 p.m. contest at Niagara, then visits St. Francis (Pa.) Sunday at 2 p.m.

COLGATE Freshman Mariah Jones scored a career-high 18 points but Colgate (0-5) fell 78-51 to visiting Sacred Heart Tuesday night in Hamilton, N.Y. ... The Pioneers led 55-49 with just over nine minutes remaining and ended the contest on a 23-2 run ... Jhazmine Lynch and Kelly Korkowski pitched in eight points apiece ... Colgate was outrebounded by a 39-22 margin and shot 38.5 percent from the floor ... The Raiders begin a three-game swing on the West Coast Friday night at 10:30 p.m. when they visit Cal State Northridge ... Colgate will face either UCLA or West Virginia Saturday before visiting San Diego Monday.

HOLY CROSS Senior Meredith Ward logged her first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds to help lift Holy Cross to a 76-64 victory Tuesday night over the visiting Minutewomen at the Hart Center ... Amy Lepley chipped in 15 points and Alex Smith added 14 ... Five Crusaders hit double figures in points, with Brisje Malone and Christine Ganser both joining the part with 10 ... Malone added game-highs of five assists and four steals ... Holy Cross shot 42 percent from the field for the game despite a 3-of-15 showing from beyond the arc, but the Crusaders were 21 of 22 from the foul line ... The Crusaders hit the road starting Sunday at Harvard at 2 p.m.

LAFAYETTE burst into the win column for the first time this season after sophomore Danielle Fiacco logged her second double-double of the year and classmate Madeline Fahan logged a career-best 16 points in a 59-50 win Tuesday at St. Peter’s ... The Leopards became the third League team to post a win over the Peahens, joining Bucknell and Lehigh ... Fiacco scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds and eight blocks, coming up just shy of a triple-double ... Fahan added seven rebounds to her career-high in points, helping Lafayette finish with a 47-35 edge on the glass ... The Leopards shot 44 percent from the floor, despite missing all seven of their attempts from the 3-point line ... Lafayette hosts the first day of the Thanksgiving Challenge Friday with a 4 p.m. meeting with Wagner, before Lehigh and Monmouth battle at 6 p.m. at the Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa. ... The Leopards will take on Monmouth Sunday in action hosted by Wagner at Staten Island, N.Y.

LEHIGH No. 13/13 Rutgers closed the first half on a 14-4 run and ran away in the second half to post a 68-40 win over Lehigh Tuesday evening in Piscataway, N.J. ... Aly Byorick scored a team-high 11 points for the Mountain Hawks, who finished the game 10 of 41 from the floor and 7 of 24 from beyond the arc ... All three of Byorick’s field goals were 3-pointers, while Alexa Williams scored eight points with a team-leading seven rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steals ... The Mountain Hawks will look to rebound in Friday’s 6 p.m. tip against Monmouth in the first day of the Thanksgiving Challenge hosted by Lafayette at the Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa. ... Lehigh visits Wagner Sunday in the second day of the holiday tournament.

NAVY used a late 7-0 run to squeeze past William & Mary, 61-58, last 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 ... 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 has been off since the win over the Tribe and will play 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.