Leopards Conclude Homestand against Fairleigh Dickinson
Jan. 7, 2008
EASTON, Pa. -
Match Up: Lafayette (7-7) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (5-8)
TONIGHT'S MATCH-UP: The Leopards conclude a three-game homestand tonight against Fairleigh Dickinson before opening Patriot League play on Jan. 12. Lafayette enters tonight's game with an overall record of 7-7 while FDU is 5-8. The all-time series between these two teams stands at 5-4 in favor of the Leopards although the Knights won the most recent meeting, 63-48, on Nov. 29 of last season in Teaneck, N.J.
In last year's match-up, turnovers and foul trouble plagued Lafayette. Junior Vanessa Van De Venter led the Leopards with 15 points to go with her team-high six rebounds. Earning her second career start in as many games, sophomore guard Jessica Spicer responded with a career-high 12 points to go with a team-high three steals. Senior Kara Stetler matched Spicer's 12 points, which included 4-of-6 from downtown.
Fairleigh Dickinson cruised to a 24-13 lead with 9:30 to play in the opening half. The Leopards proceeded to take a page from the Knights' playbook, switching to a zone defense and held FDU without a field goal for the remainder of the half as the Leopards trimmed the gap to 26-25 at the break. Lafayette built a 32-30 lead to open the second half but the Knights went back to work in a hurry, regaining a five-point lead after three-plus scoreless minutes on both ends. The Knights led the rest of the way.
LAST TIME OUT FOR LAFAYETTE: The Leopards failed to overcome a hot-shooting La Salle team, dropping a 70-54 decision to the Explorers on Friday night. Senior Vanessa Van De Venter led Lafayette with 14 points, while junior Emily Garner added 12 and freshman LaKeisha Wright finished with 10.
Jessica Spicer got the Leopards on the board with a basket at 18:20 but Lafayette fell behind 7-4 after two Margaret Elderton free throws with just over 15 minutes on the clock. An Elderton basket at 13:02 upped the Explorers' lead to seven (13-6). La Salle's margin increased to double figures (21-9) with under 11 minutes remaining in the half and remained in double figures at the eight minute mark. Lafayette did hold La Salle to just four points over the final 4:20 of play, however.
A basket by Wright cut the lead to 12 (56-44) and was part of a 7-0 Lafayette run that made the score 56-45. Junior Cristin Zavocki drained a three at 4:24 to bring the Leopards within 10 and two Van De Venter free throws with 3:30 on the clock brought the lead to single digits for the first time since the first half. La Salle, however, went back up by double-digits, 66-54, with 36 seconds remaining after an Elderton free throw to seal the win for La Salle.
NEXT UP FOR THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette begins Patriot League play with a road game against Holy Cross on Jan. 12 at 1 p.m.
DISHING OUT THE ASSISTS: Junior Jessica Spicer had a game-high five assists against La Salle, marking the third-straight game she has recorded four or more assists. She leads the team in the category with 51 for the season.
THREE POINT THRILLER: Cristin Zavocki not only had a career-night against Morgan State with her points, she also made Lafayette women's basketball history. Her eight three-pointers were the most in team history, surpassing Kara Stetler's mark of six, which she reached on three separate occassions.
In addition, Zavocki fell one three-pointer shy of tying the Kirby Sports Center record of nine, set by Brian Lloyd in 1995.
THE LAST TIME...The last time Lafayette won by more than 20 points, as the team did against Morgan State, was over seven years ago when the Leopards recorded a 77-51 win over St. Francis on Nov. 25, 2000.
In addition, the 83 points scored against Morgan State were the most since an 89-80 win over Colgate on Jan. 11, 2003.
HELPING HANDS: The Leopards had a season-best 18 assists against Morgan State. Six different players chipped-in assists with freshman LaKeisha Wright recording a game-high six.
BENCHMARK WIN: The 83-62 win over Morgan State was the 400th in the history of the women's basketball program. The program, now in its 35th season, has played 871 games and compiled an overall record of 400-471 (.459) and has recorded five 20-win seasons.
LEAGUE LEADERS: As of the Patriot League's Jan. 6 statistics, Lafayette was the Patriot League leader in scoring offense, averaging 62.2 points per game. The Leopards edged Army for the number one spot, as the Black Knights are scoring 61.7 points per contest.
In addition, senior Vanessa Van De Venter is the league leader in scoring with her 238 points (17.0 ppg). The next closest is American's Liz Hayes (14.4 ppg). Van De Venter's 45.9 field goal percentage also leads the league. Van De Venter's teammates, freshman LaKeisha Wright and junior Cristin Zavocki, are ranked third and fourth, respectively. Wright boasts a 43.1 field goal percentage, while Zavocki checks in at 42.5 percent.
FREE FOR ALL: The Leopards shot 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the free throw line against Lamar on Dec. 29. The last time a Lafayette team shot over 90 percent from the charity stripe was on Nov. 23, 2005 (15-of-16).
VACATION TIME: The Dec. 28 game against UTPA ended a 19-day layoff for the Leopards that began after the team's Dec. 8 game at Vermont. That marked the longest stretch without a game since the 1995-96 season (19 days: Dec. 9-29).
ON THE MOVE: With 14 points against La Salle, senior Vanessa Van De Venter now has 1,151 for her career and stands in sole possession of 10th place on Lafayette's all-time leading scorers list. She needs five more to tie Beth Mowins for ninth. Van De Venter, Army's Cara Enright and Bucknell's Hope Foster are the only active Patriot League players with over 1,000 career points.
LET'S GO DEFENSE!: The last time Lafayette held an opponent to 46 points or less, as the Leopards did against Vermont on Dec. 8, was when the team limited Maryland Eastern Shore to just 44 points in a 60-44 Lafayette win on Nov. 19, 2004 at the Eastern Michigan Classic.
GO, GO GARNER: Junior Emily Garner's 20 points against Penn tied a career-high, matching her total against NJIT last season. She easily eclipsed her season-high of 10 as she scored 11 in the opening stanza alone.
PRIMETIME PLAYER: Senior forward Vanessa Van De Venter's earned Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors on Dec. 3. The Economics and Business major reached double figures in three games, all Lafayette wins. She opened the week by scoring 21 against St. Francis (N.Y.), including her 1,000th career point. Van De Venter followed that performance with a double-double against Coppin State (24 p, 13 r). In the final game of the week against NJIT, she had a career-best 28 points to go along with eight rebounds.
This season, Van De Venter is averaging 17.0 ppg and leads the team in rebounds with 91 (6.5 rpg). She has reached double figures in 12 of the 13 contests this year, including two double-doubles.
CAREER DAYS: Senior Vanessa Van De Venter and junior Meaghan Malone both had career days in the win over NJIT. Van De Venter had a personal-best 28 points against the Highlanders, including a career-high 12 from the charity stripe.
Malone finished with 12 points, the first double-digit game of her Lafayette career. Those 12 points included eight from the free throw line, as she sank all eight of her attempts.
RACKING UP THE REBOUNDS: Lafayette pulled down 45 rebounds against NJIT, a season-high. What's even more remarkable is that not a single player finished with double figures, as Emily Garner's nine led the team.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: The 61 points Lafayette scored against NJIT were certainly a significant amount, but let's not overlook the play of the defense. The Leopards held the Highlanders to just 30.8 percent shooting in the game (16-of-52) and to only 17 points in the opening half. That first half total marked the fewest points allowed by Lafayette in any half this season.
PLAYING THE ROLE OF SPOILER: Lafayette's Nov. 29 win over Coppin State not only extended the Leopards' win streak to three but also ended the Eagles' 22-game home court win streak, the fourth-longest such streak in the nation at the time.
VANDY VAULTS INTO HISTORY: Just six games into the season Lafayette fans had the opportunity to witness history. Senior forward Vanessa Van De Venter became only the 14th Lafayette player to score 1,000-plus points in the program's 35-year history when she finished with 21 points against St. Francis. Her 1,000th career point came on a layup early in the game. Van De Venter also became the first to achieve the milestone since Colleen Fitzpatrick did so during the 2003-04 season.
FIFTY-FIFTY: In the win over St. Francis, the Leopards shot nearly 52 percent from the field (27-of-52), including a 59 percent performance in the second half. The last time a Lafayette team shot .500 or better from the field was on Feb. 10 of last season when the Leopards shot 54.5 percent.
STEADY SPICER: Junior Jessica Spicer has led Lafayette in minutes played in eight of the team's 14 games this season. She is averaging 33.8 minutes of action this year and has started all 14 games. As a sophomore, she also led the team in minutes played, playing over 32 minutes per contest.
OFFENSIVE OUTBURST: Lafayette's offense erupted for 78 points in its victory over Princeton as four players reached double figures for the first time since January 25, 2007. The 78 points were the most since Dec. 2, 2005, when the Leopards scored 85 in an overtime loss at Howard. The offensive production against Princeton marked the most points scored in regulation since an 89-80 win at Colgate on Jan. 11, 2003.
Lafayette also shot 47.1 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the charity stripe in the win. That marked the first time this season the Leopards recorded better field goal and free throw percentages than their opponent and it proved to be the formula for success.
DOUBLY DELICIOUS: Senior Vanessa Van De Venter and junior Jessica Spicer each had a double-double against Princeton. Van De Venter finished with 19 points and 10 boards, while Spicer had 13 and 10, respectively. The last Lafayette player to record a double-double was Emily Garner, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Army on Feb. 20 of last season.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE: It's been a long time since two Lafayette players had a double-double in the same game as Van De Venter and Spicer did against Princeton. In fact, you have to go back to the 2005-06 season when Lindsay Myers (15 p, 11 r) and Emily Garner (13 p, 10 r) both accomplished the feat in a 71-59 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 21, 2005.
IT'S ALMOST CRIMINAL: Lafayette's 15 steals against Columbia marked the first time since Feb. 6, 2007, that the Leopards recorded 10 or more steals in a single game. Junior Jessica Spicer accounted for five of those steals, just one shy of her career-high of six (vs. Bucknell, 1/16/07). As of Jan. 6, those 15 steals were tied for the most in a single game by any Patriot League team this season (American recorded 15 vs. Wagner on Nov. 19).
WHAT AN HONOR: Vanessa Van De Venter opened the 2007-08 season on a high note. The senior tri-captain scored in double figures in Lafayette's three games during the first week of the season. She had 12 against Monmouth (11/12), 18 vs. Cornell (11/15) and 17 against Mount St. Mary's (11/17). Those numbers were impressive enough to earn her honorable mention from the Patriot League on Nov. 19.
THE WRIGHT WAY: Freshman LaKeisha Wright scored a game-high 20 points in Lafayette's 71-56 loss to Cornell on Nov. 15. The last freshman to reach double figures in scoring for Lafayette was Emily Garner in 2005, who netted 12 in an overtime battle with Navy on Jan. 14 of her freshman season.
WHAT A WAY TO START: The Leopards opened their 2007-08 campaign with a thrilling 65-64 win over Monmouth at Kirby Sports Center. A layup by senior Vanessa Van De Venter with three seconds on the clock lifted the team to the season-opening victory.
Junior guard Cristin Zavocki led Lafayette with 14 points including a 3-for-7 showing from three point range. Van De Venter finished with 12 points and junior forward Meaghan Malone chipped in a career-best nine points while also pulling down five rebounds. All three of the team's freshmen saw playing time with LaKeisha Wright earning her first collegiate start. Wright finished with five points and three boards in 24 minutes of play.
RIGHT AT HOME: With their home-opening win against Monmouth, the Leopards recorded their fourth-straight home-opening victory. The streak began with a 63-47 win over Radford on Dec. 2, 2004.
STEP RIGHT UP: All three of Lafayette's freshmen saw action in the season opener against Monmouth. LaKeisha Wright was given her first collegiate start and finished with five points and three rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Classmates Elizabeth Virgin and Lauren Jackson came off the bench for the Leopards. Virgin saw 22 minutes of playing time and pulled down three rebounds to go along with two points and one assist. Jackson saw three minutes of game action and chipped in one assist.
SMITH ON THE SIDELINES: Head coach Tammy Smith is in her seventh season at Lafayette and 13th overall as a head coach. In 2006-07, she directed the Leopards to its highest-ever seed in the Patriot League Tournament (No. 6) and has nearly doubled her win totals after each season on College Hill.
Smith is the fourth head coach in Lafayette's 35-year history. She has a career record of 146-218 (.401), which includes a 113-68 mark and two NCAA Tournament appearances in seven seasons at D-III Muhlenberg.
ACADEMIC ACCOLADES: The Lafayette women's basketball team received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for recording an NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of all women's basketball teams. The team, under the direction of seventh-year head coach Tammy Smith, was one of 14 other Patriot League squads to have a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for the fall class of 2000.
CLOSE TO HOME: Three players with local connections - Val Gomez (Allentown, Pa./Emmaus), Vanessa Van De Venter (Tannersville, Pa./Pocono Mountain East) and Amanda Leone (Easton, Pa./Easton) - account for over half of Lafayette's five players from the Keystone State. Van De Venter started all 30 games last season and led the team in scoring (12.0 ppg), while Gomez battled through a knee injury and started 12 games last year. Sophomore Leone saw playing time in four games during last season.
Jackson hails from Argyle, Texas, where she played four years of varsity basketball at Liberty Christian. She averaged 17.2 points per game and a 46.8 field goal percentage as a senior. She earned first team All-State honors that season and helped guide her team to its first-ever state championship title.
Virgin joins the Leopards from Novato, Calif. She was a four-year member of the basketball team at Marin Catholic and earned three varsity letters. Virgin was also named to the First Team All-MCAL and earned East Bay honorable mention.
An Upper Marlboro, Md. native, Wright played four seasons of basketball at Eleanor Roosevelt. She saw playing time at multiple positions, averaging 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists during her career. Wright amassed 1,000 points during her career and was a member of three state championship teams.
PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: The Leopards were picked to finish in a tie for sixth place in the Patriot League's preseason poll. Lafayette received 33 points, as did Navy. Bucknell garnered the top spot with 10 first place votes. Army received four to place second, followed by Holy Cross, American and Lehigh.
Team Points 1. Bucknell (10) 92 2. Army (4) 83 3. Holy Cross (1) 77 4. American (1) 62 5. Lehigh 46 6. Lafayette 33 6. Navy 33 8. Colgate 22() indicates first place votes
MOVIN' ON UP IN `06-07: Lafayette can add "overachiever" to its list of attributes for the 2006-07 season. A team that was picked to finish in last place in the Patriot League's preseason poll, the Leopards finished the Patriot League regular season in sixth place. Five of Lafayette's seven wins came in league play, as the Leopards posted the most conference wins since 1997-98.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: There is no denying the chemistry between sophomores Jessica Spicer and Emily Garner on the court. Perhaps that is because the two have a long history of playing ball together, beginning an AAU stint when the girls were just 10 years old. They played on the same AAU team from that point in Fairfax, Va., while also both making the varsity team at Robinson High School as freshmen. Midway through their sophomore years, Spicer's family moved to Illinois, but the duo reunited at Lafayette for the 2005-06 season.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: For the 11th straight season, Lafayette features the most expansive television package in the Patriot League. This winter, nine of Lafayette's women's basketball games will be televised during the 2007-08 season, with the possibility of three more games being added during the three rounds of the Patriot League Tournament in March.
All nine telecasts will be produced by the Lafayette Sports Network (LSN), which annually produces the most expansive and highest quality television packages in the Patriot League. Each of those broadcasts will air live regionally to more than 10 million viewers on RCN-4 and WBPH-60.
As an element of Lafayette's long-term multi-media agreement with CSTV, all LSN telecasts are streamed live on the internet and available worldwide through LSN All-Access on GoLeopards.com. Lafayette was the first of the CSTV.com partners to make live video streaming available to fans everywhere when the 2000 Lafayette-Lehigh football game aired live on GoLeopards.com.
Emmy-nominated local sports broadcaster Gary Laubach will handle all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties for the 11th straight season. Former Lafayette men's basketball coach John Leone will provide color analysis for the 10th season. In his seventh year as a member of the announcing crew is RCN's Dan Mowdy, who will report on the Leopards from the sideline.
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