Kristina Freeman: Shining StarFour years ago, the Gannon University women’s basketball team got a glimpse at how beneficial Kristina Freeman could be to the program. Four years later, it’s safe to say Freeman, a senior guard, has come into her own on the court in the maroon and gold. This season, the Yonkers, N.Y., native is averaging 15.1 points per game as the Knights have started the 2009 season with a perfect 9-0 record.

Even with her on-court success, it’s her leadership and personality that impress fellow senior guard Tiffany Crocker.

“Free is awesome on the court, but that is nothing compared to who she is off the court,” Crocker said. “I always tell her I think she is so good at making whoever walks into a room feel like the most important person in there…She is so great at reaching out to people and she loves everyone, no matter who they are.”

Freeman, who played soccer along with basketball growing up, had to choose between Gannon and Southern New Hampshire University to begin her collegiate basketball career. Freeman said she chose Gannon because she wanted to mature.

“My home is eight hours away, so I was going to be forced to become more independent and self-reliant,” said Freeman, a sports management and marketing major. “I also felt like I would be a pretty good fit with the women’s basketball program.”

A good fit is an understatement. Since her arrival in 2006, Freeman has played in every game, only missing two games last season due to an injury. During her freshman campaign, Freeman was the first Knight off the bench for head coach Cleve Wright, where she averaged 6.9 points per outing.

In her last two seasons, Freeman has averaged at least 15 points per game and has been a solid contributor in the defensive zone, a place where she totaled a team-high 58 steals last season. “Pretty much every coach I’ve ever had has said that when you take care of the defensive end, the offense will come,” Freeman said. “So every year one of the main aspects that I’ve tried to improve was my defense, whether it’s on-the-ball defense, sliding my feet, or taking a charge.”

If you talk to anybody on the team, the first thing that they say about the 5-foot-9 guard is that she puts the team first, and her personal stats second. A perfect example of that, according to Wright, was the first game of the North Star Invitational, where Freeman struggled to start the game, but reserve Caitlin Lowe recorded a career-high 32 points.

“Here’s the best way to describe her,” Wright said. “She didn’t play well in the first game against Alaska Fairbanks, but Lowe lit it up. Kristina Freeman is cheering from the bench, she just wants to win. She’s such a team player. You just couldn’t tell that she did not play well.”

She rebounded from her sluggish performance pretty well, netting a career-high 31 points as the team earned its ninth victory of the season in a double-overtime win against Henderson State in the invitational finale. Her strong play in the invitational earned her invitational MVP and the title of Athlete of the Week.

“She brings a lot to this team that no one else can,” Crocker said. “So I know we wouldn’t be where we are without her. Overall, she is not only one of our strongest players, but she sets a great example for our team and is an awesome friend.”

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