Women's Basketball to Host In-State Rival Penn

Jan. 1, 2011

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EASTON, Pa. - With just two games remaining on its non-conference schedule, the Lafayette women's basketball team looks to build momentum heading into Patriot League play with a Jan. 2 contest against in-state rival Penn. Action against the Quakers from Kirby Sports Center tips off at 1 p.m. and will be featured live via LSN All-Access on GoLeopards.com.

The Leopards bested Quinnipiac, 56-54, on Dec. 28 in Philadelphia to advance to the championship game of the Hawk Classic hosted by Saint Joseph's University. Lafayette fell to the Hawks in the final on Dec. 29 by a score of 75-40.

Senior co-captain LaKeisha Wright and freshman Danielle Fiacco were named to the Hawk Classic All-Tournament Team for their performances against Quinnipiac and host Saint Joseph's. Wright, the Leopards' leading scorer in both contests, averaged 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in the tournament. Fiacco posted 4.5 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks per game against the Bobcats and Hawks.

Freshman Danielle Fiacco rewrote several record books with her 12-block performance in the Dec. 28 win over Quinnipiac. Fiacco, who leads the Patriot League with 3.3 blocks per game, eclipsed a 30-year-old Lafayette record of nine blocks set by Lenora Johnson '81 against Temple on Dec. 2, 1980 and also broke the Patriot League mark of 11 rejections. Additionally, she doubled up the previous Hawk Classic record of six blocks by South Florida's Nalini Miller against Vermont on Dec. 28, 2006. The Leopards' 14 blocks as a team against the Bobcats also set new Lafayette, Patriot League and Hawk Classic standards.



Penn (4-5) is a much different and much improved team from last season's 2-26 squad, thanks in large part to 16.0 points per game from freshman Alyssa Baron. The Quakers are also getting a solid 9.2 points and a team-best 8.6 rebounds per outing from Jess Knapp. Penn boasts the best scoring defense in the Ivy League, surrendering only 54.6 points per game, though the Quakers' offense is netting only 55.4 points per contest. Like the Leopards, Penn relies upon strong rebounding en route to an Ivy League-best +4.9 margin on the glass.

Looking to snap a five-game slide, the Leopards went on the road and grabbed a much-needed 62-56 win over Penn on Dec. 2, 2009. Lauren Jackson led Lafayette with 20 points, fueled by a record 15-for-15 day at the free throw line. LaKeisha Wright joined her in double figures with a season-high 17 points. Jackson and Alexandra Serowoky shared the team high with four rebounds apiece, and Samantha Jordan dished out a game- and career-high five assists in the Lafayette victory. The Leopards return nine of 11 players from that game, including all five starters, while the Quakers welcome back two starters and five total players who saw action in last season's encounter.

The Leopards' 62-56 win at the Palestra last season extended their winning streak to three games in a series that dates back to 1977. Lafayette has also won four of the last five games in the all-time series, though the Quakers won a series-best seven consecutive outings prior to this current string of Leopards' victories. Lafayette and Penn have played in every season dating back to 1976-77, the longest uninterrupted series for the Leopards against a non-conference opponent.

The Leopards and Quakers both hosted and defeated Bryant in their respective season openers. Each squad has also downed St. Francis (N.Y.), with Lafayette hosting the Terriers and the Quakers trekking to Brooklyn Heights. The Maroon and White are 0-1 against Ivy League opponents, falling at defending champion and preseason favorite Princeton on Dec. 13, and Penn is 0-1 against the Patriot League following a road loss at Army on Dec. 4.

With a game-high 17 points in the Nov. 23 win over St. Francis (N.Y.), senior co-captain LaKeisha Wright became the 15th member of the Leopards' 1,000-Point Club. Wright, who has since moved into 11th place all-time, currently stands at 1,124 career points. She is 32 tallies shy of Beth Mowins '89 and the all-time top 10.

Manhattan (8-3) and Fairleigh Dickinson (8-4) are the two most impressive wins of the Leopards' 2010-11 season, with the six teams downed by Lafayette combining for a 29-40 (.420) record through Dec. 31. The seven teams that have defeated the Leopards - a list that includes two defending conference champions and three preseason conference favorites - are currently an impressive 58-28 (.674). Six of Lafayette's seven losses have been against teams that are currently at least four games over .500.

With a win over Quinnipiac, their sixth of the 2010-11, the Leopards needed just 12 games to match their win total from all of last season. Lafayette had only won six non-conference games (excluding Patriot League tournament play) once since the 1997-98 season -the last campaign in which the Leopards finished with a winning record (15-13) as well as the last time the program boasted a winning Patriot League record (7-5).

All 11 active Leopards have appeared in all 13 games this season with every player averaging at least 7.3 minutes per outing. The Lafayette bench is contributing 22.7 points and 22.8 rebounds per contest - nearly 40 percent of the team's scoring and 54 percent of the rebounding. Eight Leopards are averaging four points per game or better, and six players are hauling in at least 3.2 rebounds per outing.

Lafayette led for just 0.8 seconds on Dec. 9 at Manhattan, as senior co-captain Lauren Jackson hit a three-pointer in the final second to give Lafayette its only lead of the contest in the 53-50 win. Two days later, the Maroon and White led for all but 59 seconds - and never trailed - in the 60-51 triumph over La Salle, as Jackson hit a trey to give the Leopards a 3-0 lead.

The Leopards' three-game winning streak was their longest since a five-game run during the non-conference portion of the 2007-08 campaign, when senior co-captains Lauren Jackson, Elizabeth Virgin and LaKeisha Wright were freshmen. Though the Lafayette Class of 2011 has seen two winning streaks of at least three games, such a run has been a rarity on College Hill. The last three-game winning streak for the Leopards prior to 2007-08 came in the 1998-99 season, when the current Leopards' captains were in fourth grade.

The Leopards are currently leading the Patriot League with 42.6 rebounds per game. Lafayette also tops the League in offensive rebounds (16.1 per game) and ranks third in rebounding margin (+3.9). The Leopards have twice outrebounded their opponents by 20 or more rips, holding a 59-37 edge on the glass against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 23 and a 58-37 advantage over La Salle on Dec. 11. The Maroon and White are 5-3 this season when they win the battle under the boards. The Dec. 28 victory over Quinnipiac was the only game in which Lafayette earned a win despite being outrebounded.

Senior co-captain Lauren Jackson ranks second in the Patriot League at 91.9 percent (34-for-37) from the free throw line. Jackson sank 30 consecutive attempts from the stripe in a span of 13 games from the season opener against Bryant on Nov. 14 to the Dec. 29 contest at Saint Joseph's. As a team, Lafayette also rates second in the Patriot League at 71.8 percent (176-245) from the line.

The Leopards have trailed in the second half in four of their six wins this season, most notably overcoming a 16-point deficit at Manhattan on Dec. 9 - a contest that the Leopards led for less than one second. Conversely, Lafayette has held the lead after halftime in three of its losses.

The Leopards' Dec. 13 game at Princeton capped a busy first 30 days of the 2010-11 season. Lafayette played 11 games in the first month of the campaign, including a stretch from the season-opening win over Bryant on Nov. 14 to the Dec. 4 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson where the Leopards had no more than two days off between contests. In total, Lafayette has already played in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and New Jersey without playing back-to-back games in the same state. Though the Maroon and took a two-week hiatus from the court, the Leopards were hard at work closing out the fall semester with final exams.

The Leopards challenged six Northeast Conference opponents this season, going 4-2 against half of the 12-team conference. Lafayette hosted and defeated Bryant, St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairleigh Dickinson, downed Quinnipiac at the Hawk Classic in Philadelphia and lost on the road at preseason conference favorite Long Island and Monmouth.

This season, nine Lafayette regular-season women's basketball contests - including all seven Patriot League home games - will be broadcast regionally to more than 10 million viewers on RCN-4, RCN-8 and WBPH-60. Additionally, RCN and WBPH will carry all of the Leopards' potential postseason home games. As an element of Lafayette's multimedia agreement with CBS College Sports, every home game, both televised and non-televised, will be streamed live on the Internet and available worldwide through LSN All-Access on GoLeopards.com. Select road contests will also feature LSN All-Access audio broadcasts.

After using a 20-5 run to knock off Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 4, the Leopards outdid themselves five days later with an even more impressive stretch at Manhattan. Trailing 44-28 with 14:25 to go, Lafayette outscored the Lady Jaspers by a 25-6 margin for the remainder of the contest, finally taking the lead at 53-50 with 0.8 seconds to play.

The Leopards surrendered a season-low 37 points to Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 4 in a 51-37 victory - the fewest points allowed by the Maroon and White since a 55-32 win at Holy Cross on Feb. 5, 1992. The Knights managed just 13 second-half points, shooting 5-for-31 (16.1 percent) from the floor after halftime. The Lafayette defense forced 15 turnovers, including six Leopards' steals, and blocked seven shots in the contest.

Despite suffering a 72-63 loss on Dec. 1, the Leopards outrebounded St. Bonaventure, 31-20, and shot a season-best 50 percent (22-44) from the floor. Lafayette's six three-pointers, 54.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 86.7 percent (13-15) showing at the free throw line against the Bonnies were also season highs.

Sophomore Alicia Manning made her first career start at St. Bonaventure on Dec. 1 and delivered for the Leopards with a career-high 19 points. Manning shot 6-for-9 from the field, 5-for-6 from three-point range and sank both of her free throw attempts against the Bonnies. She more than doubled her previous career best of nine points - a mark she has reached twice this season - and also set new personal standards for field goals made, three-pointers made and minutes played (33). To date, her 19-point showing marks the highest individual scoring output by a Leopard this season.

The 22-point margin of victory against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 23 was the most lopsided Lafayette win since Jan. 31, 2001, when the Leopards won at Colgate, 76-49. The only other 20-point win for Lafayette since 2001 was a 70-49 thrashing of NJIT on Dec. 5, 2008.

The Leopards' back-to-back road games at Long Island and Liberty were a rare occurrence in the non-conference schedule. Lafayette will not play two true road contests in a row again until Jan. 12 and 15 at Patriot League opponents Colgate and Navy. However, the Leopards' first back-to-back games on College Hill this season will not be until the end of January when Army and American come to Easton on Jan. 26 and 29.

It took just 20 minutes of the 2010-11 season for the Leopards to demonstrate the up-tempo offense installed by new head coach Dianne Nolan. Lafayette poured in 40 points in the first half of its season-opening win over Bryant on Nov. 14. Not only did the Leopards never score 40 points in a half last season, but the Maroon and White failed to reach the 40-point plateau in seven complete games in 2009-10. In total, Lafayette's 84 points (as well as the 72 scored in regulation) topped the season high of 65 points recorded in a 78-65 loss to Long Island last year.

Nine of the Leopards' 15 non-conference opponents are repeat challengers from the 2009-10 campaign: Bryant, Long Island, Liberty, Monmouth, Fairfield, St. Bonaventure, Fairleigh Dickinson, Princeton and Penn.

On the other side of the coin, Lafayette challenged Manhattan (Dec. 9) and Saint Joseph's (Dec. 29) for the first time since 1996.

Eleven players scored more points than Melissa Downey on Nov. 14, but two of the junior's five tallies were the most crucial in the Leopards' overtime victory against Bryant. Downey converted the game-tying layup with just five seconds remaining in regulation, sending the contest into an extra period. The Lafayette guard spent most of the afternoon helping her teammates get on the board en route to matching her career high with a game-best eight assists.

American currently boasts a seven-game winning streak en route to owning the best record in Patriot League at 9-4. The hottest team has been Lehigh, riding an eight-game streak to land percentage points behind the Eagles at 9-5. The Mountain Hawks' streak has featured quality wins over Mississippi State and Saint Joseph's, but has also been bolstered by victories over Howard (3-10), St. Peter's (0-11), NJIT (2-8) and Rider (0-11). Navy and Lafayette round out the current top-half of the league with records of 6-6 and 6-7, respectively.

Junior Sarah McGorry took a charge to negate the game-winning layup by Bryant's Danielle Douglas with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation. McGorry's heads-up play sent the game into overtime, where the Leopards came away with a four-point victory.

The Leopards are among the most experienced teams in the Patriot League, as they return their top six scorers and top three rebounders from last season. Aside from Army, which did not lose any letterwinners from last season's roster, Bucknell is the only other Patriot squad to return its three best on the boards.

The Leopards have met Lehigh on 76 occasions, by far their most games against any opponent. The rivalry is older than both the Patriot League and the East Coast Conference, dating back to Feb. 4, 1975. Lafayette is 40-36 all-time against the Mountain Hawks. League rival Bucknell is the Leopards' second most-frequent opponent with 65 all-time outings. Among non-conference opponents, Princeton is Lafayette's most frequent foe with this season's meeting being the 39th all-time.

According to the latest NCAA report of Division I institutions, Lafayette College ranks third in the nation in student-athlete graduation success rate (GSR). The Leopards post an impressive 97 percent GSR, ranking well above the national GSR for Division I student-athletes of 79 percent. Fourteen of the Leopards' 20 intercollegiate sports included in the study - including women's basketball - boast a 100 percent GSR, with every Leopards' program registering above the Division I average.

Senior co-captains Lauren Jackson, Elizabeth Virgin and LaKeisha Wright will be authoring a blog, "The Full-Court Press", on GoLeopards.com this season. Check back throughout the 2010-11 campaign for the latest updates and insights from the Leopards' captains.

Lafayette will close out its non-conference schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at Columbia. Action from Levien Gymnasium in Manhattan is slated for 7 p.m. Patriot League play begins at Kirby Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 8 with a 1 p.m. visit from Holy Cross.