Women's Basketball Opens Second Half of League Play vs. Crusaders
Feb. 8, 2008
Match Up: Lafayette (12-10, 4-3) vs. Holy Cross (12-10, 5-2)
SATURDAY'S MATCH-UP: Lafayette and Holy Cross open the second half of league play this afternoon. The Leopards are tied for second in the Patriot League with a 4-3 mark in conference action, while the Crusaders hold a share of first with a 5-2 league record. Lafayette suffered a tough, 77-70 overtime setback in Worcester the first time these teams met this season.
In that game, senior Vanessa Van De Venter brought the Leopards within one of the lead (71-70) with less than three minutes remaining in overtime but Lafayette would not score again, as Holy Cross scored six unanswered points to close the game. Van De Venter led the team with 22 points while junior Cristin Zavocki finished with 18, all from three-point range.
LAST TIME OUT FOR LAFAYETTE: A slow start translated into a 68-54 Lafayette loss at American last Saturday afternoon. Senior Vanessa Van De Venter recorded her third double-double of the season with a game-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Freshman LaKeisha Wright joined Van De Venter in double figures with 13 points.
Lafayette struggled to find its momentum in the opening minutes of the game while the Eagles opened with a 6-2 run and held a 9-4 edge after just a few minutes of action. Van De Venter scored her first points of the game with 15:32 on the clock to bring the Leopards within two (8-6) and Wright's sixth point of the half tied the game at eight. The score changed hands several times over the next several minutes, but American went back up by one (20-19) with less than eight minutes left to play in the opening half and would not trail again in the game.
NEXT UP FOR THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette hits the road to face Colgate on Wednesday, Jan. 13, for a 7 p.m. game.
SATURDAY'S FESTIVITIES: On Saturday, Lafayette will take part in three different national events. The Leopards will tak part in the NCAA's "Pack the House Challenge" in which NCAA member schools compete against other Division I schools with the goal of setting an attendance record. Let's Go Leopards! Lafayette will also recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day this afternoon. Finally, the Leopards will also lend their support to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association "Think Pink" initiative. The initiative is a global, unified effort to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
TWO-WAY TIE: With a 4-3 Patriot League record, Lafayette is tied with American and Bucknell for second in the conference. Lafayette holds the better overall record, however, with a 12-10 mark while the Eagles are 10-12 and the Bison 9-12. The Leopards defeated the Bison on Jan. 23 but fell to the Eagles last weekend.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: Vanessa Van De Venter poured in a game-high 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Leopards' Feb. 2 game against American en route to her third double-double of the season. Her previous double-doubles came against Princeton and Coppin State.
INTRODUCING...: On Thursday, Feb. 7, the Lafayette women's basketball program announced the signing of three players to the Lafayette Class of 2012. The members include guard Melissa Downey (Havertown, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara), forward Sarah McGorry (Doylestown, Pa./Mt. St. Joseph Academy) and forward/center Alexandra Serowoky (Dearborn, Mich./Ladywood).
LEAGUE LEADERS: As of the Patriot League's Feb. 3 statistics, Lafayette was the league leader in scoring offense, averaging 60.7 points per game. The Leopards narrowly edged Army for the number one spot, as the Black Knights are scoring 60.1 points per contest.
In addition, senior Vanessa Van De Venter is the league leader in scoring with 363 points (16.5 ppg). The next closest is Holy Cross' Briana McFadden (14.4 ppg). Van De Venter's teammate, freshman LaKeisha Wright, leads the conference in field goal percentage with her 48.2 mark. Van De Venter checks in with a 44.4 field goal percentage, good for second in the league, while junior Cristin Zavocki is ranked fifth with a 42.1 percent showing.
ON THE MOVE: With 17 points against American, senior Vanessa Van De Venter now has 1,276 for her career and stands in sole possession of seventh place on Lafayette's all-time leading scorers list. She needs seven more to tie Terri Dadio for sixth. 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.
In addition, Van De Venter stands in 10th place on Lafayette's list of all-time leading rebounders. With 10 against American, the senior now has 586 for her career and needs 16 more to tie Keri Hollister for ninth all-time.
SOLID START TO THE NEW YEAR: The Leopards wrapped-up the month of January with a 6-3 record, their best mark of any month so far this season. It was also their first winning month since posting a 3-2 record in November, 2005. In addition, four of those six wins came against Patriot League opponents. Lafayette finished the month with an overall record of 12-9, which marked the first double-digit win total in head coach Tammy Smith's six-plus seasons on College Hill.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS: Lafayette has shown marked improvement on both ends of the court from last season to this season. On the offensive side, the Leopards are scoring a league-leading 60.7 points per game this year, five more than their 56.7 ppg mark of a year ago.
Their defense has also become one of the best in the league. Opponents are scoring just 59.4 ppg this season, compared to the 64.4 ppg they scored against Lafayette last season. The Leopards are currently ranked fourth in the league in scoring defense.
LET'S GO STREAKING!: Lafayette's Jan. 26 win over Lehigh extended the Leopards' win streak to four. Lafayette also had a five-game win streak earlier this season. The last time the Leopards had two win streaks of four or more games in a single season was the 1993-94 season. That team finished the season with an overall record of 18-9, a league mark of 9-5 and advanced to the Patriot League championship game.
A CLEAN SWEEP: Lafayette swept the Jan. 28 Patriot League Women's Basketball honors following wins over Bucknell and Lehigh. Senior Vanessa Van De Venter was named the Offensive Player of the Week while LaKeisha Wright was tabbed the Rookie of the Week. The accolades were the second of the season for both players.
Van De Venter and Wright reached double figures in both games that week. Van De Venter scored 15 points in the overtime win against Bucknell and led all scorers with 17 points against Lehigh. Wright opened the week with 10 points against the Bison and finished with 16 in Lafayette's win over the Mountain Hawks.
FUN FACTS: Lafayette opened Patriot League play with a 4-1 record. The last time the Leopards opened its conference schedule with a 4-1 mark was the 1993-94 season. In addition, the last time Lafayette defeated Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh and Navy in the same season, as the squad has done this year, also came during the 1993-94 season.
FRESHMAN FIRST: Freshman LaKeisha Wright scored her 200th point of the season in Lafayette's win over Lehigh, becoming the first freshman since current senior Vanessa Van De Venter to score at least 200 points during her freshman campaign. Van De Venter finished her rookie season with 272 points.
EXTRA EXCITEMENT: For the second time this season, the Leopards played an overtime game as their contest against Patriot League foe Bucknell could not be decided in regulation. The last time Lafayette played two overtime games in a single season was in 2005-06.
LET'S GO DEFENSE!: The Leopards went into halftime against Navy trailing 32-28 but their defense came to play in the second half, limiting the Midshipmen to just 12 points in the second period. Not only did those 12 points mark the fewest scored by an opponent in any half this season, it marked the lowest total in a half since American scored just 10 in the opening stanza of a 62-50 Lafayette win on Jan. 27, 2007.
In addition, the Mids shot just 29.4 percent (15-of-51) from the field, the lowest shooting percentage by a Lafayette opponent this season. That mark surpassed the previous low of 30.8 percent shot by NJIT in the Leopards' Dec. 1 win over the Highlanders.
DID YOU KNOW?: Through the first 22 games this season, Lafayette has held three opponents--Vermont (46), Navy (44) and Lehigh (45)--to under 50 points. The 2005-06 season was the last time the Leopards held three teams below 50 points. That year, Wagner managed just 46, Long Island only 48 and Holy Cross just 49 against the Lafayette defense.
ONE STREAK COMES TO AN END, ANOTHER BEGINS: Lafayette's nine-game losing streak against Colgate was snapped with the Jan. 16 victory. The win also marked the second-straight season Lafayette has been victorious in its league home opener as the Leopards recorded a 61-58 win over Holy Cross last season.
GENDER EQUALITY: Both the Lafayette women's and men's basketball teams were victorious against Colgate on Jan. 16. The last time both Lafayette teams recorded same-day victories against the Raiders came nearly 10 years ago on Feb. 21, 1998. The women won a 62-58 decision while the men recorded a 77-66 victory.
ROOKIE RECOGNITION: Following her performances against Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 8 and Holy Cross on Jan. 12, freshman LaKeisha Wright was named the Patriot League's Rookie of the Week.
Wright opened the week by scoring eight points in a 66-59 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. She played 32 minutes against the Knights and finished with four rebounds. Wright followed that performance with 16 points against Holy Cross. She shot 8-of-11 from the field against the Crusaders while also pulling down four boards and adding a game-high five assists.
Wright has started all 22 games at forward this season. She is averaging 10.1 points per game and shooting 48.2 percent from the field. That field goal percentage places her first in the league. Wright is also pulling down 5.4 rebounds per game and has 51 assists, good for second on the team.
LET'S PLAY SOME MORE!: Lafayette and Holy Cross took their game into overtime on Jan. 12 in what marked the Patriot League opener for both teams. It was the first overtime game the Leopards have played this season and their first since a 75-71 overtime loss to Navy on Jan. 14, 2006.
FIFTY-FIFTY: The Leopards shot over 51 percent from the field (28-of-54) against Holy Cross, including a 56.5 percent showing in the opening half. That marked the third time this season Lafayette has shot over fifty percent from the field. The first time came in a 64-54 win over St. Francis when the team shot nearly 52 percent from the field (27-of-52), including 59 percent in the second half. The Leopards also shot over 51 percent (24-of-47) against Fairleigh Dickinson.
SUPREMACY FROM BEYOND THE ARC: Junior Cristin Zavocki already set a Lafayette women's basketball record this season with eight made-threes against Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 8. Against Holy Cross, she came close to re-writing the record books yet again. Zavocki drained six more treys (6-of-8) against the Crusaders to account for all 18 of her points. In addition, the team shot 50 percent (9-of-18) from beyond the arc against Holy Cross.
BREAKOUT GAME: Sophomore Amanda Smith had a career night in the team's 66-59 win over FDU. The center scored a career-high six points in 11 minutes of action off the bench. She sank all three of her field goal attempts and also pulled down two boards and added one assist in the Leopards' winning effort.
DISHING OUT THE ASSISTS: Junior Jessica Spicer had a game-high four assists against La Salle which marked the third-straight game she had recorded four or more assists. This season, Spicer leads the team with 71 assists (3.2 apg).
THREE POINT THRILLER: Cristin Zavocki not only had a career-night against Morgan State with her 26 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 occasions.
In addition, Zavocki fell one three-pointer shy of tying the Kirby Sports Center record of nine, set by Brown's 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 878 games, compiled an overall record of 405-473 (.461) and recorded five 20-win seasons.
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).
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 previous 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 16.5 ppg and leads the team in rebounds with 133 (6.0 rpg). She has reached double figures in 20 of 22 contests this year, including three 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.
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.
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.
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 Feb. 3, those 15 steals were the third most in a single game by any Patriot League team this season.
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.
RIGHT AT HOME: 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.
With the 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 152-220 (.409), 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.
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.
Rank 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
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.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: There is no denying the chemistry between juniors 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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