Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.20.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Alexis Dobbs and American look for their fourth straight win Friday night when the Eagles visit James Madison.
Alexis Dobbs and American look for their fourth straight win Friday night when the Eagles visit James Madison.

Dec. 20, 2012

Patriot League Women's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.20.12 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Just as quickly as the final exam break came and went, most Patriot League teams are getting in a game or two before another rest in the schedule for the Christmas holiday.

American and Bucknell picked up midweek victories. The Eagles ran their win streak to three with an eight point win at Maryland-Eastern Shore, while Bucknell jumped out to a big lead at Towson and withstood a late Tiger rally for a 13 point victory.

Lehigh ends a long layoff with Thursday night’s home contest against Sacred Heart, its third consecutive contest in the friendly confines of Stabler Arena.

Friday’s schedule is the busiest slate of games in nearly two weeks and since before finals. American, Colgate, Holy Cross and Lafayette are all in action, with the day starting at 11 a.m. as the Crusaders visit Bryant.

The Bison close out the pre-Christmas schedule with Saturday’s tip at St. Peter’s. After that teams are off again until Friday, Dec. 28 with two contests. The bulk of the post-Christmas and pre-New Year’s action takes place Dec. 29-30 with a pair of holiday tournaments and a variety of non-League contests.

Patriot League Women’s Basketball Quick Hits

• Both Bucknell and Navy had four players reach double figures in Wednesday’s games. Shelby Romine paced the Bison with 21 points in their win at Towson, while Alix Membreno had 19 in the Mids’ loss at Marquette.

• Patriot League teams nudged over .500 again after Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games. The eight teams are a combined 41-40 in non-League games this season.

• Bucknell senior forward Lindsay Horbatuck became the second player this season with 100 rebounds. She joins Army freshman Aimee Oertner, who has 103. Horbatuck leads the League averaging 10.0 boards per game.

• American’s tandem of Alexis Dobbs and Geleisa George are 1-2 in the League in foul shooting (.917 and .864, respectively), and are tied for the League lead at 2.1 steals per game.

• The League’s leading freshman scorer will be in action Thursday. Lehigh’s Kerry Kinek is fifth in the League overall and tops among rookies averaging 12.7 points per game.

• Danielle Fiacco and Linnel Macklin are the only two players to start all 10 of Lafayette’s games. The Leopards are home Friday for St. Francis (N.Y.).

• American has won three in a row and five of its last six.

• Colgate visits Iona Friday in its first game in five days. The Raiders defeated the Gaels 75-50 in Hamilton last season.

• Alex Smith has led Holy Cross in scoring in six of nine games this season.

Patriot League Notebook

Final exams are over, and many teams are getting at least one game in before the Christmas holiday next week. After the Patriot League’s student-athletes focused on the first half of that moniker, the next break in the schedule comes next week with Christmas. After Bucknell visits St. Peter’s Saturday, there are no games again until Friday, Dec. 28.

Only two Patriot League teams are set for holiday tournaments during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Lafayette heads to the Bronx, N.Y., to participate in the Fordham Holiday Classic, while Lehigh hosts the Christmas City Classic in Bethlehem, Pa. The other six teams have games lined up for that week, but they are not part of tournaments.

At 91-43 overall at American, head coach Matt Corkery ranks among the best in the League all-time in win percentage (.679). Corkery is also chasing the League record for fastest to 100 victories, a mark that is currently owned by Holy Cross’ Bill Gibbons. Gibbons reached 100 victories in 149 contests, with his 100th triumph coming in the 1995-96 season opener against Syracuse. Corkery would match Gibbons’ record with a 9-6 mark in American’s next 15 contests. Navy’s Joe Sanchez collected 100 wins in 162 games from 1994-2000. American is next in action Friday at 7 p.m. at James Madison.

Despite not having played in a game since Dec. 9 against nationally ranked Ohio State, Lafayette junior Danielle Fiacco remains fifth in Division I averaging 3.9 blocks per game. A defensive force since her rookie campaign, the 6-foot-7 center from Brewster, N.Y., is already tied for third on the League’s all-time blocks list with 222 with Army’s Erin Anthony. Next up on the list is Holy Cross’ Kathy Courtney, who amassed 309 blocks from 1993-97. Should Fiacco maintain her average and remain healthy, she would approach 300 career blocks by season’s end.

Aimee Oertner picked up her third Anaconda Rookie of the Week honor Monday, bringing Army’s overall total to five citations in the first six weeks of the season. That kind of domination by one school on the award hasn’t been seen since the Patriot League’s second season of women’s basketball in 1991-92, when Army captured five of the first six awards en route to nine in that year’s 12 awards. Guard Kelsey Minato has been named the Anaconda Rookie of the Week twice this season as well.

The Patriot League currently has four active players with at least 500 rebounds. Holy Cross senior Amy Lepley and Navy junior Jade Geif entered the season with 511 and 503 boards, respectively. Geif has taken the lead among active players with 593, while Lepley remains at 511 as she has been sidelined with an injury. Bucknell senior Lindsay Horbatuck and Lafayette junior Danielle Fiacco have entered the 500 club since the start of the season. Horbatuck enters the week with 572 career rebounds, while Fiacco has 514.

The head coaches and sports information directors named two-time defending Patriot League champion Navy as the favorite in 2012-13 in late October. The Mids, led by Preseason Player of the Year junior Jade Geif, are seeking to do something no League squad has done in over a decade - win three straight titles. The first and only program to do it is Holy Cross, which captured four straight championships from 1997-98 to 2000-01. Navy returns four starters from a year ago, all of whom are in their junior seasons. Navy topped the preseason poll with 89 points and eight first-place ballots.

Three games involving Patriot League teams will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network this season, including two in the regular season and the League’s championship tilt in March. Two-time defending champion Navy hosts Lafayette Jan. 13 in Annapolis, Md., in the first televised contest, while Holy Cross visits Lehigh Feb. 10 in Bethlehem, Pa., in the second. Coverage wraps up Saturday, March 16, when CBS Sports Network televises the Patriot League championship game from the site of the higher seed. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. Bob Socci will handle the play-by-play and Amy Lawrence the analysis.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN used timely foul shooting in the final minute to win 61-53 at Maryland-Eastern Shore Tuesday night ... The Eagles went a perfect 6 of 6 from the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds, and hit 9 of their last 12 from the line to seal the win ... Alexis Dobbs led the Eagles with 15 points, while fellow guard Jen Dumiak chipped in 13 ... The Eagles trailed 26-25 at the half after shooting 32 percent from the floor ... American came out of the gate and retook the lead early on T’Asia McGeorge’s 3-pointer, and later took a 40-33 lead with 11:28 left after a 6-0 spurt ... The Hawks stayed close and pulled within 48-47 before Dumiak connected from beyond the arc to give the Eagles a four-point cushion with 5:54 to go ... American finished the game shooting 34 percent from the field and just over 42 percent on 3s ... The Eagles are back on the floor Friday with a 7 p.m. tip at James Madison in their final game before Christmas.

ARMY scored 50 points in the second half to turn a four-point halftime lead into a 77-40 win over Merchant Marine Academy last Thursday night at West Point ... Anna Simmers led all scorers with 15 points, while Kelsey Minato and Bridget Ryan added 11 apiece ... Army led 27-23 after 20 minutes, outscoring Merchant Marine 12-4 in the paint ... After Merchant Marine scored the opening basket nine seconds into the second half, the Black Knights used a 22-0 run over the next nearly five minutes to blow the game open ... Army had a 49-25 lead at the 14:56 mark, and put together an 11-0 run with 3-pointers from Ryan and Bridgette Ocran to open a 60-27 lead midway through the second ... Army shot nearly 45 percent for the game, including a 12 of 26 (46 percent) showing from beyond the arc ... The Black Knights finished with a 41-30 edge in rebounding while committing just seven turnovers ... Army is off until Dec. 30 when it hosts Bryant.

BUCKNELL Shelby Romine led four Bucknell players in double figures with 21 points, and Audrey Dotson grabbed 15 rebounds and dished six assists in the Bison’ 75-62 win at Towson Wednesday night ... In moving to 6-4, Bucknell already has more wins than last season, and Aaron Roussell became the third Bison coach to lead the club to more victories in their first year than were achieved the previous season ... Bucknell scored 16 straight points to erase an early 7-2 Towson run, and the Bison eventually led 38-21 at the half ... Bucknell padded the lead in the second, with Romine sinking one of her 5 3s on the night to give the Bison a 64-36 lead with just under eight minutes left ... The Tigers put together a 23-6 run to pull within 70-59 with 1:58 on the clock, and the Bison hit 5 of 6 from the foul line to finish off the victory ... Alyssa Dunn pitched in 12 points, while Sheaira Jones and Lindsay Horbatuck scored 11 apiece ... The Bison play at St. Peter’s Saturday at 2 p.m.

COLGATE rallied to force overtime, but its offense managed just one point in the extra period as the Raiders fell 66-63 at Niagara Sunday evening ... Kelly Reid and Catherine Lewis scored 11 points apiece to lead the Raiders, while Carole Harris pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds to go with seven points off the bench ... Niagara went up 62-58 with 2:27 remaining in regulation ... Lewis hit a 3-pointer with 1:45 on the clock to bring the Raiders within one, and Reid went 1 of 2 from the foul line with 26 seconds left to tie the game ... The Purple Eagles accounted for the only field goal in overtime, as Lauren Gatto’s jumper put Niagara up 64-62 with 2:47 to go ... Harris went to the line with a chance to even the game, but missed the second foul shot after hitting the first to bring the Raiders within one ... Colgate went 0 for 5 from the field in the extra five minutes, while Niagara was 1 of 8 ... The Raiders are at Iona Friday at 2 p.m.

HOLY CROSS The Crusaders have been idle since losing 61-49 at Quinnipiac Dec. 8 ... Their first game back is Friday with an 11 a.m. tipoff at Bryant ... Friday’s contest will end a 13-day layoff ... Holy Cross is three games into a stretch of eight consecutive tilts away from Worcester, Mass.

LAFAYETTE The Leopards’ last outing was Dec. 8 in an 81-41 loss at nationally ranked Ohio State ... The Leopards come back from final exams when they host St. Francis (N.Y.) Friday at 7 p.m. ... Lafayette will then gear up for the Fordham Holiday Classic Dec. 29-30 in Bronx, N.Y.

LEHIGH The Mountain Hawks’ nearly two week respite ends Thursday when they host Sacred Heart at 7 p.m. ... Lehigh is in the midst of five straight games at home ... The Mountain Hawks welcome Binghamton and Boston University in the Christmas City Classic Dec. 29-30.

NAVY Alix Membreno led four players in double figures with 19 points in Navy’s 73-65 loss at Marquette Wednesday ... She added six rebounds and five assists, while Kara Pollinger chipped in 13 points with five dishes ... Audrey Bauer (13 points) and Jade Geif (10) also reached double figures offensively ... Bauer capped off six straight Navy points with a layup in the closing seconds of the first half to lift the Mids to a 36-all tie with Marquette at the break ... She added consecutive 3-pointers early in the second to give Navy a 42-36 lead ... The Golden Eagles replied with an 8-0 run to take a 49-46 lead with just under 11 minutes left ... The teams traded buckets over the next few minutes before Marquette used a 9-2 run to build a 69-60 lead with 3:03 remaining ... The Mids shot nearly 53 percent for the game after hitting at a 65 percent clip in the first half, but went only 1 of 9 from the foul line in the game ... The Mids are off until Dec. 30 when they host Marshall at 2 p.m.