Patriot League Women's Basketball Release - 12.27.11

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Holy Cross' Emily Parker garnered her second Anaconda Rookie of the Week nod of the season Monday.
Holy Cross' Emily Parker garnered her second Anaconda Rookie of the Week nod of the season Monday.

Dec. 27, 2011

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — With finals in the rearview mirror and Christmas having come and gone, the season ramps up again for the eight Patriot League teams, who will all be in action as the calendar lurches toward 2012.

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Wednesday begins a stretch of 23 games in eight days for League squads, with a few of those contests coming against nationally-ranked opponents. The post-Christmas slate begins Wednesday with a pair of noon tilts and two contests against squads in the top 25.

Four teams enter this upcoming stretch off victories. Despite a 10-day layoff, American showed little signs of rust in a 63-48 win at home over Loyola (Md.) last Wednesday in its first action since a 55-45 win at Troy Dec. 11. The Eagles are home to battle an RPI top 100 teams in Quinnipiac Wednesday at 7 p.m. before closing out their three-game homestand Friday against Western Michigan.

Holy Cross and Lafayette picked up victories last Wednesday as well. The Crusaders had four players hit double figures in an 82-62 win over Bryant, while it was defense that ruled in the Leopards’ 46-33 victory at St. Francis (N.Y.). Both clubs will look to officially begin win streaks Wednesday, but it won’t be easy. Lafayette battles fifth-ranked Maryland to open the Terrapin Classic at 12 p.m., while the Crusaders have a 7 p.m. tip at No. 12/10 Miami. Lafayette could wind up facing a nationally-ranked opponent for the second time in as many days when it finishes up the Terrapin Classic against either No. 19/20 Delaware or East Carolina Thursday.

Lehigh won four in a row before taking an extended break for final exams and Christmas. The Mountain Hawks return to the floor Thursday in the Christmas City Classic hosting Rhode Island at 7:30 p.m. It will be Lehigh’s first game since Dec. 10.

Army, Bucknell, Colgate and Navy enter this week’s action looking to rebound off losses that came before Christmas.

Patriot League Weekly Awards

AMY LEPLEY, HOLY CROSS Jr., F/G, Norfolk, Mass.
Lepley led four Holy Cross players in double figures with a game-high 18 points as the Crusaders put together their largest offensive output of the season in an 82-62 victory over Bryant Wednesday afternoon in Worcester, Mass. Lepley shot a season-best 72.7 percent from the field and hit another season high with eight field goals in 26 minutes against the Bulldogs. She tied her season high with five assists, while she led the Crusaders in scoring for the fifth time this year. She added one steal and did not commit a turnover. The junior out of Norfolk, Mass., is up to fourth in the League averaging 12.6 points per game, while she sits second on the team averaging 5.0 rebounds per contest. She grabbed six boards against Bryant.

Parker becomes the first repeat Anaconda Rookie of the Week award winner of the 2011-12 campaign after scoring 11 points with six rebounds, three blocks, a steal and an assist in Holy Cross’ 82-62 win over Bryant Wednesday afternoon at the Hart Center. Her three rejections were the most for any Crusader this season, and she is the only Holy Cross player to notch multiple-block games this season as she now has three. She shot 5 of 8 from the floor in 21 minutes of action and leads the Crusaders with 5.3 rebounds per contest. She’s averaging 10.2 points per game and is one of four Crusaders in double figures in scoring to this point.

Kiely posted her first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and shot 4 of 6 from the field in American’s 63-48 win over Loyola (Md.) Wednesday night.

AUDREY BAUER, NAVY So., F, Lake Zurich, Ill.
Bauer reached double figures for the sixth time this year with 13 points and added four rebounds and a steal in Navy’s 54-46 loss to UMBC last Tuesday.

Patriot League Notebook

Now that Christmas has come and gone, four of the eight Patriot League teams will embark on journeys through holiday tournaments this week leading up to the New Year’s holiday. The road won’t be easy at all, with Lafayette heading to College Park to take on No. 5 Maryland in the first day of the Terrapin Classic, while Holy Cross goes south to visit No. 12 Miami as part of the Hurricanes’ holiday tournament. Those tournaments start Wednesday. On Thursday, Navy begins play at the Fordham Holiday Tournament, while Lehigh hosts the Christmas City Classic.

Lehigh remains the Patriot League’s hottest team, although that has to be qualified as the Mountain Hawks haven’t played since a win Dec. 10 over visiting Robert Morris. Lehigh has won four straight games and 17 in a row in the month of December dating back to the 2009-10 campaign. The Mountain Hawks will try to go perfect for this December when they open the Christmas City Classic at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa., against Rhode Island Thursday evening. Lehigh closes the annual holiday event Friday with a game against Richmond. Both contests are slated for 7:30 p.m.

Lafayette will be the busiest of the Patriot League teams the next several days. The Leopards have three games scheduled in four days, beginning Wednesday when they open the Terrapin Classic against host Maryland, which is undefeated and ranked No. 5 in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25. Lafayette returns to the court Thursday to play its second game in the holiday tournament against either No. 19 Delaware or East Carolina. The Leopards remain on the road Saturday when they will spend New Year’s Eve in the Steel City to take on Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. Lafayette then has a break for a few days before closing their non-League slate Jan. 4 against Columbia at home.

Believe it or not, but the non-League leg of the schedule is quickly coming to a close, and we are less than two weeks away from the first round of Patriot League play beginning Saturday, Jan. 7. The eight teams will begin a double round-robin schedule with the first day’s games all at different times. Lehigh hosts Holy Cross at 2 p.m., Navy heads to Lafayette for a 3 p.m. tipoff, Colgate entertains American for a 4 p.m. start and Army visits Bucknell at 7 p.m.

One crucial reason for American’s 7-4 start to the season has been its ability to take care of the basketball. The Eagles boast the League’s best turnover margin at +1.3 per game. In fact, they are the only League squad with a positive stat in that category, as the other seven are all in the negatives. Army is second in the League with a turnover margin of -0.5.

The Crusaders’ put forth their highest point total of the season last week in their 82-62 win over Bryant at the Hart Center Wednesday afternoon. Four of five starters ended up in double figures for Holy Cross, which nudged above the .500 mark again this season at 6-5. Amy Lepley had a game-high 18 points, Brisje Malone scored 14 while Emily Parker and Alex Smith tallied 11 apiece. Four Crusaders are averaging in double figures in points, with Smith continuing to lead the team at 13.3 per contest. Lepley, Malone and Parker round out the Crusaders’ top four scorers.

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 earlier this season. 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.).

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 294 career victories after the Mids capped off a five-game win streak with an impressive 65-52 win over Princeton Dec. 9 at Alumni Hall. The Tigers, who are the two-time defending Ivy League champions, are No. 11 in Monday’s RPI. The Mids own two wins against teams in the RPI top 100.

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.

It was bound to happen at some point, and Bucknell freshman Amy Zehner finally accomplished it earlier this season 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN used a balance effort in its return to the court since before final exams to post a 63-48 win over visiting Loyola (Md.) at Bender Arena Wednesday evening ... Sarah Kiely posted her first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Alexis Dobbs and Geleisa George tallied 11 points apiece ... Lisa Strack poured in 10 ... The Eagles used a 15-4 run in the first half and Dobbs sank a 35-footer at the buzzer to send American into the break up 32-16 ... The lead ballooned to as many as 23 before the Greyhounds began chipping away, cutting it to 10 with two minutes to go before the Eagles won by 15 ... The Eagles continue their home slate Wednesday with a 7 p.m. tip against Quinnipiac and welcome Western Michigan to Bender Arena Friday at 7 p.m. ... The Bobcats are ranked No. 66 in the latest RPI ratings released Monday ... American will start 2012 on the road with a 2 p.m. tip at George Washington Jan. 2.

ARMY dropped its fourth in a row in an 83-46 loss against the Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz., Tuesday evening ... Jen Hazlett and Jessica Waggoner shared the team lead with 11 points apiece, while Hazlett also owned a team-high six rebounds ... A steal by Anna Simmers set up a Ciara Jackson layup that tied the game at 12 with 13:05 left in the first half, but Arizona State went on a 30-9 spurt to take a 42-21 lead into the break ... The Sun Devils opened the second with a 10-0 run ... Army finished 2 of 14 on 3-pointers ... The Black Knights are off until Friday, when they will host Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. at Christl Arena ... Quinnipiac will have played American two nights before on the road ... Army is the only team scheduled to play New Year’s Day, as it will visit Yale Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. ... The Black Knights will remain on the road to visit Bryant Jan. 3 at 3 p.m.

BUCKNELL Felicia Mgdada scored 12 points and Rachel Voss 11 in Bucknell’s 78-54 loss at home to 16th-ranked Penn State Wednesday night ... Mgbada shot 6 of 10 from the floor in 22 minutes, while Lindsay Horbatuck grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds ... The Bison shot 8 of 34 (23.5 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes and trailed 34-18 at the break ... The Nittany Lions turned Bucknell’s 20 turnovers into 21 points ... The Bison will be one of two League teams to start the post-Christmas holiday stretch when they tip off at 12 p.m. Wednesday at West Virginia ... Bucknell remains on the road leading up to New Year’s Day with a 1 p.m. tip Dec. 31 at Mount St. Mary’s ... The Bison will host Yale Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. before opening League play Jan. 7.

COLGATE Mariah Jones and Missy Repoli shared the team lead with 11 points apiece, but St. Bonaventure outscored Colgate 28-9 over the last 13:37 of the game as the Raiders fell 68-49 in Hamilton, N.Y., Thursday afternoon ... Colgate led 28-27 at halftime and had a 35-30 advantage with 17:13 showing on the clock after a layup from Lauryn Kobiela ... The Bonnies used a 10-4 spurt to go up 40-39 at the 13:37 mark, setting up their game-ending stretch ... Kelly Korkowski chipped in 10 points for Colgate, while Tricia Oakes collected a team-high eight rebounds ... The Raiders will look to bounce back from the loss to the Bonnies when they host Iona Thursday at 2 p.m. ... It will be the first of two games in three days for Colgate, which heads to Syracuse for a 1 p.m. tip Dec. 31 ... After that, the Raiders will be idle until opening League play Jan. 7.

HOLY CROSS Four players hit double figures in points as Holy Cross collected an 82-62 win over Bryant Wednesday afternoon in Worcester, Mass. ... The Crusaders were led by Amy Lepley’s game-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Brisje Malone tallied 14 and Emily Parker and Alex Smith chipped in 11 apiece ... Holy Cross led 45-30 at halftime and shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) in the second half to put the game away ... The Crusader offense scored 31 buckets and logged 27 assists, with Smith contributing eight while Lepley and Malone tallied five each ... Holy Cross begins play in the Miami Holiday Tournament Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the host Hurricanes, who are ranked No. 12 ... The Crusaders will battle either VCU or Morgan State Thursday before returning home to entertain Dartmouth Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.

LAFAYETTE It was the defense that got the job done for Lafayette, which surrendered the fewest points of any Leopard team in nearly 20 years in a 46-33 victory at St. Francis (N.Y.) Wednesday evening ... Danielle Fiacco scored a game-high 11 points with three rebounds and three blocks to pace the Leopards ... Emily Homan scored eight points with eight rebounds, while Brya Freeland and Madeline Fahan had seven points each ... Lafayette used an 11-4 spurt to take a 23-18 lead at halftime and pushed the lead into double figures with 16:32 left in the contest ... Lafayette led by as many as 17 in the second half ... The Leopards have a daunting task in front of them, as they will open the Terrapin Classic against fifth-ranked Maryland Wednesday at 12 p.m. ... Lafayette will take on either No. 19 Delaware or East Carolina Thursday before visiting Pittsburgh Dec. 31 at 1 p.m.

LEHIGH When the Mountain Hawks return to the floor Dec. 29 at the Christmas City Classic, they will put their four-game win streak on the line ... Lehigh is 4-1 at home and has its next three at Stabler Arena ... The Mountain Hawks open Dec. 29 against Rhode Island and will close the holiday event Dec. 30 against Richmond ... Both games are set for a 7:30 p.m. tip ... Lehigh will then be off until hosting Holy Cross Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. in the League opener for both ... After missing the first eight games of the season, Emily Gratch is healthy and back in the lineup, having come off the bench in the last four ... Her return has coincided with the Mountain Hawks’ four-game win streak ... Both Gratch and Alexa Williams are averaging 10.8 points per game, while Williams is the only player in the League averaging a double-double with 10.0 boards per contest ... Lehigh owns the League’s best free throw shooting stat so far at 74.7 percent, while Williams is sixth in the League shooting 77.1 percent from the line.

NAVY went without a field goal and managed just two points over the final nine minutes of a 54-46 loss to UMBC in Annapolis Tuesday night ... Audrey Bauer finished with a team-high 13 points while Erin Edwards chipped in 10 in 29 minutes off the bench ... Jade Geif, facing double teams all game long, scored just five points but captured a game-high eight rebounds ... The Mids hit on eight of their first nine shots in the second half to turn a six-point deficit into a 44-42 lead with 9:39 remaining, but they would manage just a pair of successful free throws the rest of the way ... Navy finished the game shooting 45.9 percent (17 of 37) from the floor ... The Mids take on the host Rams in the Fordham Holiday Classic Thursday at 12 p.m. and will take on either Coppin State or Boston University Friday ... Navy returns home to host NJIT Jan. 3 before hitting the road to visit Lafayette to open League play Jan. 7.