Patriot League Women's Basketball Release - 11.29.11

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons goes for career win No. 500 Wednesday night when the Crusaders visit Central Connecticut.
Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons goes for career win No. 500 Wednesday night when the Crusaders visit Central Connecticut.

Nov. 29, 2011

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Lafayette sophomore center Danielle Fiacco continued her fine play last week, including a pair of 20-plus point performances in being named the Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week. Fiacco’s efforts helped Lafayette go 2-1 during the period, as the Leopards secured their first victories of the 2011-12 campaign.

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Olivia Schretzman hit the 20-point mark for the first time in hear young career in Army’s 63-58 loss Sunday at Columbia, which snapped a four-game win streak. The Black Knight freshman captured her first career weekly award and is the first Army player named Rookie of the Week in nearly two years.

With Army’s win streak having been halted at the hands of Columbia, American takes over as the League’s hottest team. The Eagles have won four in a row and sit 5-2 on the season, with three of those victories coming away from Bender Arena. American won both its games in the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and began its road trip with a win at Youngstown State.

After everybody is off Tuesday, American is one of five Patriot League teams in action Wednesday. The earliest of the five contests begins at 11:30 a.m., with Lehigh returning home after its 63-44 win at Wagner to host Villanova. The other four matchups are set for 7 p.m., with Bucknell playing host to Canisius, Holy Cross going to Central Connecticut, Lafayette on the road at Penn and American hosting Maryland Eastern Shore.

Army hosts Hawaii at 6 p.m. in the only game on Thursday’s slate, and the schedule picks up again for the weekend beginning Friday. Holy Cross concludes its three-game road trip at New Hampshire, Colgate returns home to welcome Niagara and Navy continues its stretch of five straight at home when it opens the Navy Classic against Houston Baptist.

Patriot League Weekly Awards

19.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 5.7 bpg, .540 FG%

11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, .550 FG%, 1.000 FT%

13.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .500 FG%

18.0 ppg, 7.5 apg, double-double at Harvard

14.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, scored 22 at Cal State Northridge

Patriot League Notebook

Lafayette sophomore Danielle Fiacco emerged as a big-time player for the Leopards last season, especially when she set the Patriot League record with 12 blocked shots in a contest against Quinnipiac. She finished her injury-shortened season with 71 rejections, which placed her in the League’s single-season top 10. She’s averaging five blocks per game so far in 2011-12, which places her second in the country in the latest NCAA statistics released Monday. She trails Baylor’s Brittney Griner. If Fiacco keeps up this pace, she will obliterate the League’s single-season record for blocks per game of 3.3 set by Fordham’s Kelly Roche in 1992-93. Fiacco sits 13th all-time in League annals with 101 blocks, just 35 outside of the top 10. If her current pace continues, she would enter the top 10 by the New Year.

American boasts the only returning All-League performer from last season in Lisa Strack, but other players have stepped up mightily in recent games lifting the Eagles to their current four-game win streak. Sophomore Alexis Dobbs, who shares the team’s captaincy duties with Strack, scored a game-high 15 points while Stephanie Anya pitched in 12 with nine rebounds and four blocks in American’s come-from-behind 55-54 win over Austin Peay at the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational. The Eagles closed out the holiday festivities with a 49-46 win over San Jose State in which Dobbs scored a team-best 11 points and Anya added another 10. Through Sunday, Strack still leads the team with 11.9 points per game, while Dobbs is up to second at 11.1 per contest and Anya is scoring 9.0 ppg.

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 among the Patriot League’s leading scorers, as she sits third through Sunday with 13.0 points per game. She’s getting help too, with juniors Anna Simmers (10.8 ppg) and Molly Yardley (8.9) also contributing. Freshman Olivia Schretzman, this week’s Anaconda Rookie of the Week, is averaging 8.4 points and 6.0 boards per contest.

Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons secured the 499th victory of his career Sunday in the Crusaders’ 73-68 victory at Harvard. With his next win, he will be the second Patriot League coach within a month to reach a significant victory milestone, as Army’s Dave Magarity nudged above the 400 plateau just a few weeks ago. Gibbons is in his 27th season as a head coach, having spent all of them at Holy Cross.

It was bound to happen at some point, and Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner finally accomplished it last 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 last 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 approaches 100 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. Magarity is coaching in his sixth season at West Point and 29th overall.

Two other League coaches are sitting near big victory milestones behind Bill Gibbons. Navy’s Stefanie Pemper sits with 290 career victories, making 300 a very realistic possibility this season, following Monday’s 71-59 victory over Air Force. Bucknell’s Kathy Fedorjaka, who recorded win No. 200 as Bison head coach last season, has 275 overall wins.

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 rallied from a seven-point deficit in the second half to take a 55-54 victory from Austin Peay Friday night in the first game of the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif. ... Alexis Dobbs poured in a game-high 15 points, while Stephanie Anya scored 12 with nine rebounds and four blocks ... Buckets from Lisa Strack and Ebony Edwards put the Eagles ahead 55-52 with 1:34 left ... Austin Peay sank two free throws and, after American could not score on the ensuing possession, had the ball for the final possession, but a 3-pointer before the buzzer was off the mark ... Dobbs scored a team-high 11 points and Anya had 10 for the Eagles, who hung on for a 49-46 victory over San Jose State Saturday to conclude the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Invitational in San Luis Obispo, Calif. ... American led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but San Jose State took a 46-43 lead with 2:06 remaining ... That turned out to be the Mustangs’ last field goal of the game, as American finished the contest with six consecutive points on a layup from Anya and four free throws by Strack ... The Eagles are back home Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Maryland Eastern Shore.

ARMY Liz Benedict scored a career-best 13 points and led three Black Knights in double figures as Army defeated Manhattanville 71-40 Friday at Christl Arena ... Jen Hazlett scored a game-high 14 points with four blocks, four assists and three steals, while Anna Simmers scored 11 points with five assists ... Fifteen different Army players saw minutes with 10 logging points ... The Black Knights shot 56 percent in the first half en route to a 38-23 lead at the break and never looked back ... Columbia used a late 7-2 run to down Army, 63-58, at Levein Gymnasium in New York, N.Y., on Sunday afternoon ... Freshman Olivia Schretzman led the Black Knights with a career-high 20 points, but Army saw its four-game win streak snapped by the Lions ... Schretzman was 6-of-11 shooting from the floor and a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, and added five rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal for the Black Knights ... After shooting just over 29 percent from the floor in the first half, Army was 13 of 27 (48.1 percent) from the field after the break but finished the game just 1 of 9 from the 3-point line ... Army hosts Hawaii Thursday at 7 p.m.

BUCKNELL Shelby Romine scored a season-high 20 points, but Bucknell fell 61-55 at Niagara Friday evening ... Rachel Voss also reached double figures with 10 points for the Bison, while Felicia Mgbada ripped down a team-high seven rebounds and added a pair of blocks in the middle ... Romine shot 9 of 16 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from beyond the 3-point line ... Bucknell outrebounded Niagara 36-24 and shot better from the field than the Purple Eagles (48 percent to 39), but Niagara turned 28 Bucknell turnovers into 24 points to create the difference ... Lindsay Horbatuck logged her first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Bucknell fell 70-53 at Saint Francis (Pa.) Sunday afternoon in Loretto, Pa. ... The Bison trailed the Red Flash 24-16 at halftime after hitting just 4 of 21 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes ... Bucknell, which was unsuccessful in seven tries from the 3-point line, was done in by 23 turnovers that Saint Francis converted into 29 points ... Romine pitched in six points, nine rebounds and three assists for the Bison ... Bucknell plays Canisius for the first time in a decade Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pa.

COLGATE Jhazmine Lynch led all scorers with 22 points and Mariah Jones scored 11, but Colgate fell 71-60 to host Cal State Northridge Friday night at the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic in Northridge, Calif. ... Lynch was 7 of 16 from the field, including 2 of 2 from the 3-point line, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe ... Catherine Lewis scored nine points with a team-high six rebounds ... The Raiders finished the game on a 12-1 run after trailing by as many as 22 points in the second half ... Lynch led Colgate with 14 points as the Raiders fell 68-48 to UCLA in the consolation game of the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic on Saturday ... The Bruins, who were ranked 25th in last week’s Associated Press Top 25, took a 30-21 lead into halftime and came out of the break with a 9-0 run to go up by 18 ... The Raiders replied with an 11-4 spurt to get within 43-32, but UCLA pulled away for the 20-point win ... Lynch, who grabbed five rebounds with four steals and three assists, was named to the All-Tournament Team ... Lynch, a native of San Diego, Calif., scored a game-high 21 points in a superb homecoming effort but Colgate fell 75-73 in overtime at San Diego Monday night ... Lynch’s jumper with 30 seconds left in regulation forced overtime, and her half-court heave at the buzzer in the extra session bounced off the back of the rim ... Jones pitched in another stellar performance with 18 points, and Tricia Oakes added 11 ... Kelly Korkowski narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and 10 boards ... The Raiders’ season continues Friday when they return home to host Niagara at 7 p.m.

HOLY CROSS Sophomore Alex Smith’s career day of 22 points and 11 assists lifted Holy Cross to a 73-68 victory at Harvard Sunday afternoon in Cambridge, Mass. ... The Crusaders trailed 35-31 at the half despite shooting nearly 44 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes ... They increased that pace to 52 percent after the break, scoring 42 points in the second half en route to the five-point win ... Four Crusaders in all reached double figures in points, with Amy Lepley pouring in 15 while Christine Ganser pitched in 14 and Brisje Malone 13 ... Holy Cross was outrebounded 40-28 but turned 13 Crimson turnovers into 24 points ... Coach Bill Gibbons now sits with 499 career victories and will go for No. 500 Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when the Crusaders visiting Central Connecticut.

LAFAYETTE Danielle Fiacco scored 20 points with eight rebounds and four blocks and Sarah McGorry added 18 points with six boards as Lafayette won its second in a row with a 66-55 decision over Wagner Friday at the Kirby Sports Center ... Fiacco shot 9 of 16 from the floor and reached double figures in points for the fourth game in a row, while McGorry was 7 of 11 from the field ... Madeline Fahan pitched in 10 points and ripped down seven rebounds ... As a team, the Leopards shot 40 percent from the floor, were 22 of 26 from the foul line and owned a 38-29 edge on the boards ... Fiacco scored a career-high 23 points but Lafayette could not completely overcome an 18-point deficit in the second half and fell 58-54 to Monmouth in the Thanksgiving Challenge at Staten Island, N.Y., on Sunday ... Eighteen of Fiacco’s points came after halftime, and she logged a double-double with 10 rebounds and added five blocks ... The Leopards finished the game 8 of 18 from the foul line ... Emily Homan pitched in 13 points, eight rebounds and one block for Lafayette, which saw its two-game win streak halted ... Fiacco’s 23 points were the most by a Lafayette player in nearly four years ... The Leopards head to Penn Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

LEHIGH had the ball with time winding down, but Kelly Peterson’s game-winning 3-point attempt bounced around the rim and off and the Mountain Hawks lost 75-73 in Easton, Pa., Friday at the first day of the Thanksgiving Challenge hosted by Lafayette ... Hilary Weaver and Peterson shared the team lead with 13 points, while Alexa Williams added 12 and Aly Byorick had 10 ... Williams added nine rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks in the loss ... Lehigh shot 33 percent from the floor and held a 40-36 edge on the glass against the Hawks ... Williams narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and a game-high 13 points as Lehigh snapped its two-game losing streak and logged its best all-around performance of the season to date in a 63-44 victory over Wagner in the finale of the Thanksgiving Challenge at Staten Island, N.Y., on Sunday ... Sarah Pearce and Peterson tied for the team lead with 12 points apiece, while Weaver dished nine assists and Katie O’Reilly grabbed four steals ... The Mountain Hawks forced 25 Wagner turnovers and held a 46-44 edge on the glass ... Lehigh hosts Villanova Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

NAVY Kara Pollinger set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds, but Navy couldn’t overcome an early 13-2 run and fell 52-45 at Mount St. Mary’s Saturday evening ... The Mids shot 8 of 28 from the floor in both halves, finishing 28.6 percent for the game ... Jade Geif scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Mids, who trailed 29-20 at halftime ... Mount St. Mary’s was able to convert 15 Navy turnovers into 16 points, and the Mountaineers’ bench outscored the Mids’ 18-5 ... Navy used a late 16-6 run to post a 71-59 victory over Academy rival Air Force Monday night at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. ... Geif posted a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Audrey Bauer poured in 15 points and Pollinger 14 ... The Mids twice held 20-point leads in the first half and led 40-25 at the break ... The Falcons chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 50-47 with 11:17 to go and 55-53 at the 6:24 mark ... A 3-pointer from Chey Arvin and a Bauer jumper put Navy back up by seven, and the Mids pulled away late ... Navy resumes play Friday at 6 p.m. in the Navy Classic against Houston Baptist.