Lafayette's Danielle Fiacco remains second in the country in blocking as of Monday's NCAA statistical release.
Dec. 6, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- After starting the season with three losses in its first four games, defending Patriot League champion Navy has rattled off three straight wins and is the League's hottest team entering play this week. The reliable play of sophomore and Preseason Player of the Year Jade Geif has been buoyed by a pair of classmates in Audrey Bauer and Kara Pollinger. Pollinger reached career highs in points twice in the last four games, including a 24-point performance in the Mids' 73-56 victory Saturday over Maine in the Navy Classic and was named the event's MVP. Bauer earned All-Tournament status after averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game across two contests.
With Navy's offense starting to chug and averaging just over 70 points per game in its last three contests, another team that might be starting to figure things out is Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks, who were selected second in the preseason poll, have won two in a row including Monday's 70-60 victory over visiting Loyola (Md.) at Stabler Arena. It was a great start to a five-game homestand for Lehigh, which doesn't have another road game until Patriot League play begins in January.
Holy Cross and Lafayette are the other two teams coming into the week off weekend victories. The Crusaders' 61-50 victory over New Hampshire Saturday afternoon was career triumph No. 500 for head coach Bill Gibbons. Lafayette rebounded from a loss at Penn with a 48-43 victory against Manhattan, which snapped the Leopards' two-game slide.
Two League teams are home Tuesday night, with Army hosting Binghamton and Bucknell welcoming Fordham for 7 p.m. tips. Four games are on Wednesday's slate, with Lehigh hosting NJIT at 5 p.m. as the early game. The other three are set for 7 p.m., again with everybody at home. Navy hosts Siena, Holy Cross entertains Northeastern and Lafayette plays host to Saint Joseph's on the Lafayette Sports Network.
Patriot League Weekly Awards (11.28-12.4)
ANACONDA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JEN HAZLETT, ARMY So., G/F, Syracuse, Utah
15.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, .478 FG%, .750 FT%
ANACONDA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
EMILY HOMAN, LAFAYETTE Fr., F, Upper Darby, Pa.
8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, .438 FG%
HONORABLE MENTION PERFORMANCES LAST WEEK
KARA POLLINGER, NAVY So., G, Fort Gay, W. Va.
14.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, .682 FG%, .750 FT%
KELLY REID, COLGATE Fr., F, Richmond Hill, Va.
6.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, .467 FG%, 1.000 FT%
AMY LEPLEY, HOLY CROSS Jr., F, Norfolk, Mass.
13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, .500 FG%, .429 3FG%
Patriot League Notebook
FIACCO REMAINS ONE OF NATION'S BEST
After collecting another 10 blocks in two games last week, Lafayette sophomore center Danielle Fiacco maintained her 5.0 blocks-per-game average to remain in second place in the nation as of Monday's latest statistical release from the NCAA. The 6-foot-7 center is by far the highest ranked Patriot Leaguer in any category in the nation, as Holy Cross' Alex Smith is the next highest at 27th with 5.5 assists per game as of Monday. While she maintained her average, Fiacco actually gained on the nation's leading shot blocker in Brittney Griner of Baylor, who went from 5.7 blocks per game last week to 5.1 this week.
THE SECOND MILESTONE FALLS
Bill Gibbons became the second head coach in the Patriot League to reach a significant victory milestone this season when Holy Cross defeated New Hampshire 61-50 Saturday afternoon. It was the 500th win of his career, which is now in its 27th season and has spent its entire duration on the Crusader sidelines. Gibbons joins Lafayette's Dianne Nolan as the only two League coaches with at least 500 career wins. Earlier this season Army's Dave Magarity collected his 400th coaching victory when Army defeated St. Francis (N.Y.).
PEMPER NEARING 300
With two victory plateaus having been reached, there's now a third on the way that seems likely this season. Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper, who is in her fourth season in Annapolis, has 292 career victories after the Mids posted three triumph's last week.
LEHIGH'S WILLIAMS JOINS MILESTONE PARADE
Not to be left out is Lehigh senior Alexa Williams, who collected her own milestone in Saturday's 41-39 for the Mountain Hawks at Valparaiso. Williams became the 45th player in League history to collect her 600th career rebound and sixth from Lehigh during the League era. After ripping down six more in Monday's win over Loyola (Md.), Williams has 613 for her career, putting her one behind former Lehigh standout Adrienne Blount, who graduated in 2007. Six League players finished their careers last season with at least 600 rebounds, with Army's Erin Anthony at the top of that list with 1,036.
The Patriot League features two of the nation's top 15 scoring defenses, and it probably comes as no surprise that the two representatives are the service academies. Army ranks 12th in the country in scoring defense as of Monday, allowing a paltry 49.3 points per game. Army's rival Navy is just three slots back at No. 15 averaging 50.6 points allowed so far. The Black Knights and Mids have boasted two of the stingiest scoring defenses in the League over the last several seasons.
POLLINGER BREAKS OUT
Navy sophomore Jade Geif was named the Preseason Player of the Year and has garnered a lot of the attention in Annapolis, but classmate Kara Pollinger has begun making some of her own headlines. The point guard has set career highs in points twice in the Mids' last four outings, with the most recent effort coming in Saturday's 73-56 win over Maine. Pollinger scored 24 points with five rebounds and became the first Navy player since the 1989-90 campaign to shoot at least a perfect 5 of 5 on 3-pointers. The native of Fort Gay, W. Va., shot 68.2 percent from the floor for the week, including at a 9-of-10 clip in the victory over the Black Bears. Pollinger's previous career high was 16 points tallied just over a week ago at Mount St. Mary's.
ZEHNER'S HISTORIC FEAT
It was bound to happen at some point, and Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner finally accomplished it nearly three weeks ago 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 at Buffalo.
MAGARITY REACHES 400 PLATEAU
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.
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.
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 Geleisa George led American with 10 points off the bench and Lisa Strack pitched in nine as American fell 76-42 to No. 6/7 Maryland Sunday afternoon at Bender Arena ... The Terrapins shot 53 percent from the floor for the game and led the Eagles 38-16 at the break ... American had a difficult time keeping pace with Maryland, as the Eagles were just 2-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc ... Strack added four rebounds and four assists in the loss, while Sarah Kielty had five rips and McGeorge led the Eagles with six ... The Eagles are now idle until Sunday when they visit Troy for a 2 p.m. tip ... After that game with the Trojans, American will be off until Dec. 21 when it opens a stretch of three straight home games over 10 days.
ARMY Four players reached double figures in points, but costly turnovers late short circuited a comeback attempt at Army fell 68-64 at Loyola (Md.) Saturday afternoon in Balitmore ... Olivia Schretzman led the way with 13 points and six rebounds, Jen Hazlett poured in 12 points with six rips, Anna Simmers scored 11 and Molly Yardley 10 ... Jessica Waggoner grabbed a game-high 12 boards in 17 minutes off the bench ... Army rallied back from a nine-point deficit to tie the game at 58 with 3:21 on the clock ... After the Greyhounds took a three-point lead on their next possession, the Black Knights turned the ball over on consecutive trips up the floor ... Army's run of seven home games in its first 10 outings comes to a close Tuesday night when it welcomes Binghamton to Christl Arena ... The Black Knights visit Penn Saturday and then will be off for 10 days.
BUCKNELL jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half, but could not hold on and fell 54-53 at NJIT Saturday afternoon ... Felicia Mgbada scored a team-high 12 points with three rebounds and a pair of blocks in 25 minutes off the bench, while Shelby Romine scored 11 points with four rebounds, three assists and three steals ... After taking a 13-2 lead early, NJIT whittled down the Bison's lead and Bucknell was up 25-24 at the break ... The game, which features nine lead changes and eight ties, was close to the end after NJIT took a 54-53 lead on a free throw with 25 seconds left ... The Bison had two cracks to win the game, but Romine's jumper with eight seconds to go was off the mark, and Lindsay Horbatuck's second chance after an offensive board also didn't fall ... The Bison host Fordham Tuesday night and will look to snap their eight-game slide ... Bucknell will then be idle until Dec. 18 when it visits Cornell.
COLGATE put together a 21-6 run in the second half to eliminate a 14-point deficit, but Niagara's Kayla Strolman sank a 10-foot jumper in the final seconds to defeat the Raiders, 61-60, in Hamilton, N.Y., Friday night ... Jhazmine Lynch tallied a game-high 19 points with eight rebounds and four steals for Colgate (0-9) ... Down 44-30 with 13:31 left in the second half, Colgate scored 21 of the next 27 points to take a 51-50 lead just under seven minutes later ... Lynch sank two consecutive buckets to give Colgate a 60-59 lead with 28 seconds to go before Strolman hit her game-winning shot ... Senior Candice Green scored 12 points with five rebounds and five dishes as Colgate fell 63-42 at Canisius Sunday ... Freshman Kelly Reid ripped down a career-high 14 boards and pitched in six points ... The Griffins used an 11-4 run to take a 26-12 lead in the first before the Raiders closed the gap to 31-24 by halftime ... Canisius started the second frame with an 18-7 run to move ahead 49-31 with 8:50 remaining and never looked back ... Colgate shot just 24 percent from the floor and under 20 percent on treys ... The Raiders are home Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip against Wagner before taking off eight days for final exams.
HOLY CROSS Bill Gibbons posted the 500th victory of his head coaching career as the Crusaders defeated New Hampshire 61-50 on the road Saturday afternoon ... Junior Amy Lepley went 6 of 7 from the field and logged a season-high 20 points to help Holy Cross rally from a five-point second-half deficit ... Holy Cross went on a 12-0 run sparked by a pair of Lepley buckets to move ahead 49-43 with 7:01 left in the contest ... Lepley added another basket, this time a 3-pointer, to give the Crusaders a 54-46 lead at the 4:50 mark ... Holy Cross shot nearly 43 percent from the floor and won the rebounding battle, 37-28 ... Brisje Malone pitched in 15 points with seven rebounds, while Emily Parker poured in 10 points with three blocks ... The Crusaders are home for Northeastern Wednesday at 7 p.m. before taking an 11-day break for exams ... Holy Cross visits Boston College Dec. 18.
LAFAYETTE led by as many as 14 points and held off a late charge by the Jaspers in taking a 48-43 victory from Manhattan Saturday afternoon ... Sarah McGorry scored 15 points, while Madeline Fahan and Danielle Fiacco both scored seven points with 11 rebounds ... Lafayette led 30-22 at halftime before the Jaspers rallied to take a 40-39 advantage with 6:40 remaining ... McGorry's jumper with 2:25 to go capped off a 7-1 Lafayette run to help lift the Leopards ... Lafayette held on in the second half regardless of shooting 4 of 26 from the floor in the final 20 minutes ... The Leopards will return to the Lafayette Sports Network Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. tip against visiting Saint Joseph's before visiting Bryant Sunday afternoon.
LEHIGH Emily Gratch scored 10 points with five rebounds in her season debut for Lehigh, helping the Mountain Hawks hold on for a 41-39 victory at Valparaiso Saturday afternoon ... Gratch hit a bucket to give Lehigh a 39-37 lead with 3:18 remaining, and sank a pair of free throws shortly thereafter to make it a four-point lead ... After Valparaiso cut Lehigh's lead to 41-39, Lehigh came up with two defensive stops in the final minute to preserve the win ... Senior Alexa Williams grabbed 13 rebounds for the third consecutive game, including the 600th of her career ... Kelly Peterson scored a game-high 16 points for Lehigh, which received a total team effort as she was the only player to reach double figures for the Mountain Hawks ... Ten different players scored at least a point, with Aly Byorick pitching in nine points off the bench and Gratch dropping in eight ... Lehigh shot nearly 54 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 35-23 lead at the break ... Coming out of the locker room, the Mountain Hawks used an early 9-0 run to take a 19-point lead and never led by fewer than 10 the rest of the way ... Lehigh posted a 42-30 edge on the glass, with Gratch and Williams both leading the team with six boards apiece ... The Mountain Hawks are home for NJIT Wednesday at 5 p.m.
NAVY Thirteen different players scored at least two points and nobody reached double figures in a remarkably balanced effort as Navy blew out Houston Baptist, 67-31, at the Navy Classic Friday evening at Alumni Hall ... Audrey Bauer and Alix Membreno tied for the team high with nine points apiece, while Jade Geif scored seven points with eight rebounds, two steals and a block and Bauer had three boards, two blocks, a pair of thefts and two assists ... The Mids shot 42 percent (14 of 33) from the floor in the first half and led 31-17 at the break ... Navy kept up the pressure after halftime, shooting nearly 56 percent over the final 20 minutes and never looking back ... The Mids' defense held the Huskies to 19.4 percent shooting (13 of 67) for the game ... Navy nudged above the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 73-56 win over Maine in the Navy Classic Saturday afternoon ... The Mids were on fire from the floor for the entire game, shooting 50 percent in the first half and at an almost 56 percent clip in the second ... Kara Pollinger scored a career-high 24 points after shooting 9 of 10 from the floor and a perfect 5 of 5 on 3-pointers and was named Navy Classic MVP ... Bauer scored 15 points with five rebounds and four blocks, while Chey Arvin chipped in 11 points for the Mids ... Bauer was named to the Navy Classic All-Tournament Team alongside Pollinger after averaging 12 points and four rebounds in the two games ... The Mids host Siena Wednesday at 7 p.m. and close out their five-game homestand Friday at 7 p.m. against Princeton.