Junior Stephanie Cleary (Tappan Zee/Tappan) of the Ithaca College women's basketball team continues to lead all college basketball players in steals per game. Cleary is averaging 5.5 steals per game this season -- the highest figure in college basketball (men's or women's, Division I, II or III). Her total of 115 steals is also the highest figure in college basketball.
Division I: Toccara Williams, Texas Tech; 4.2 steals per game
Division II: Natasha Morlock, Metro State; 5.0 steals per game
Division III: Stephanie Cleary, Ithaca; 5.5 steals per game
Division I: Marques Green, St. Bonaventure; 3.8 steals per game
Division II: Luqman Jackson, Virginia Union; 3.8 steals per game
Division III: Benny West, Howard Payne; 4.7 steals per game
No Ithaca women's basketball player has ever led Division III in any statistical category.
Cleary, who became Ithaca's eighth 1,000-point scorer earlier this winter, has compiled 115 steals in 21 games this year. In Ithaca's most recent game, she collected 12 steals (one short of the school single-game record) in helping Ithaca to a 58-48 win over No. 18 St. John Fisher, who had come into the game averaging 76.0 points per game. Her 115 steals are third on the program's single-season list (the school record is 124, by Lisa Tibbles in 1990-91) and she is second on the school's career list with 240 (trailing only Margo McGowan's 352 from 1994 to 1998). Cleary is also averaging a team-leading 17.2 ppg.
The Bombers are 19-2 on the season and alone in first place in the Empire 8 (11-0). Ithaca is ranked 17th nationally (the program's highest ranking ever) and first in the NCAA East Region poll. The Bombers have clinched a berth in the inaugural Empire 8 championship tournament -- to be held February 28-29 at the site of the regular-season champion -- and will clinch the regular-season championship with one more win.