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Longtime Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons takes leave after accusation of abuse 10.17.13 at 10:59 am ET
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Longtime Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons voluntarily went on paid leave Wednesday following accusations of mental and physical abuse by a former player.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court in New York City, former Holy Cross basketball player Ashley Cooper claims that Gibbons was physically and mentally abusive to his players for years. The lawsuit also claims that Holy Cross was aware of Gibbons’ unacceptable behavior, but did nothing to stop it.

The lawsuit named Gibbons, Holy Cross, athletic director Richard Regan and associate athletic director Ann Zelesky as the defendants in the case.

In an interview with Masslive.com, attorney Elizabeth Eilender said that Gibbons screamed at his team and struck some of his players on several occasions, often so hard that it would leave marks.

“This was not done in an encouraging way, but out of frustration and anger” Eilender said. “The man is clearly in need of some anger management therapy. … The yelling and the screaming is the least of it, we’re talking about physical abuse here.”

Eilender made the comparison between this case and that of Mike Rice, the former Rutgers University men’s basketball coach who was fired after videos were released that showed Rice abusing his players by screaming and throwing basketballs at them during practice.

“I actually think this is worse, ” Eilender said. “You learn when you’re little you don’t hit girls.”

Gibbons’ alleged abuse was the chief reason why Cooper decided to transfer from Holy Cross to New York University after two seasons with the team, giving up her athletic scholarship in the process, Eilender said.

The lawsuit alleges that Holy Cross knew of Gibbons’s rough treatment of his players but did not take any action to stop him. In a statement released by Ellen Ryder, Holy Cross’ director of public affairs, the school said that it was unaware of these new allegations and will begin a new investigation into Gibbons.

“The physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of our students is our highest priority at Holy Cross,” Ryder said. “We just received the lawsuit and are in the process of reviewing it.”

Eilender expressed skepticism in Holy Cross’ intentions to fully investigate Gibbons.

“Holy Cross did what Holy Cross does, they buried it, they denied it, they covered it up,” Eilender said. “I don’t understand why they’re protecting this man.”

Now in his 29th season with the Crusaders, Gibbons became the 24th coach in NCAA history to earn 500 victories back in 2011. He’s lead the team to 11 Patriot League titles.

Read More: Bill Gibbons, Holy Cross, women's basketball,
BC rally falls short at Wake Forest; Northeastern, Harvard pick up road wins 01.12.13 at 6:50 pm ET
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Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris scored 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and the Demon Deacons held off a late Boston College rally for a 75-72 victory Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Olivier Hanlan is fouled driving to the basket during BC's loss to Wake Forest. (AP)

Lonnie Jackson scored 23 points to lead the way for BC (9-7, 1-2 ACC). Olivier Hanlan scored 18, and Ryan Anderson record his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

BC trailed by 10 points with 5:47 remaining before embarking on a 13-4 run, capped by a three-point play from Hanlan with just under two minutes remaining. That got the Eagles within one at 71-70. After a BC defensive breakdown led to a layup for Wake point guard Madison Jones, Joe Rahon hit two free throws to get BC back within a point, 73-72.

Following a Wake miss, BC turned over the ball, but the Demon Deacons (9-6, 2-1) returned the favor with an offensive foul on a moving pick. BC regained possession with 19.5 seconds left. BC got the ball to Rahon, but the guard could not finish his strong drive to the basket, making him 0-for-7.

Harris hit two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to make it 75-72. On BC’s ensuing inbounds pass, Wake’s Travis McKie (18 points) stole it just over midcourt, but apparently thinking the game was over, he started walking with the basketball toward the sideline. That gave BC another chance with 1.5 seconds left. The inbounds pass went to Hanlan, and his contested 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short.

BC next hosts Miami on Wednesday.

In other college basketball action involving local teams Saturday, Northeastern continued its hot start in conference play with a 70-59 victory at Towson as Joel Smith scored 21 points. The Huskies (9-7, 4-0 Colonial Athletic Association) trailed 25-13 with 8:16 left in the first half but closed the period on a 26-8 run to take control. NU is off to its best conference start since beginning 6-0 in 2008-09.

In Hanover, N.H., Harvard closed the game on a 17-2 run for a 75-65 victory over pesky Dartmouth as the Crimson began defense of their Ivy League championship. Siyani Chambers scored 22 points, Wesley Saunders netted 19, and both players had six assists. Harvard (9-2, 1-0 Ivy) shot a blistering 62.8 percent from the field and held the hosts to two points over the game’s final 9:25.

At Boston University, the Terriers got 16 points and seven assists from D.J. Irving in an 85-59 victory over Binghamton. John Papale added 14 points and nine rebounds for BU (8-9, 2-2 America East).

In Bethlehem, Pa., Holy Cross’ Justin Burrell scored 16 points, but the Crusaders could not keep up with Lehigh, falling 79-47 in their Patriot League opener. Lehigh, despite missing standout guard C.J. McCollum (broken foot), went on a 14-0 run late in the first half to take command, then shot 66.7 percent in the second half to pull away from HC (8-8).

Read More: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Holy Cross
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