Women’s basketball falls to Colgate on buzzer beater after defensive struggle

Sophomore+Ashley+Evans+locks+up+a+Colgate+defender+during+their+highly+contentious+matchup+last+Saturday.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Sophomore Ashley Evans locks up a Colgate defender during their highly contentious matchup last Saturday. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Colleen McNamara, Staff Writer

The women’s basketball team (7-9 overall) fell to Colgate (3-16 overall) in the final seconds of regulation 49-47 last Saturday, Jan. 22.

Despite dominating in an away game against the Raiders back in December (59-37 final), the Leopards were challenged in Saturday’s match. 

“Up until this game, Colgate had not won a conference game, so we knew they’d come in hungry,” freshman guard Claire Gallagher said. 

Weeks ago, Colgate played a zone defense which was easier for Lafayette to capitalize on for easy two-point looks. 

“This time, they played a packed-in man defense most of the game, given our team’s strength and size in the paint, stagnating our offense and making us settle for tough shots,” Gallagher said.

The Leopards opened strong with a layup by senior guard and forward Makaila Wilson followed by a handful of successful rebounds. Gallagher was an impact player, adding a jumper, layup and three-pointer to the team’s total of 18 points by the end of the first quarter.

“In this game–and every game–I come off the bench ready to give the team a burst of energy,” Gallagher said. “This season, my consistent shooting from the perimeter has helped stretch the floor for my teammates, and my relative size as a guard is useful for defensive matchups and rebounding.” 

Colgate rallied in the second quarter thanks to an 11-7 run in which the Leopards struggled to make shots and struggled to hold onto the ball. Following their 18 point onslaught in the first quarter, Lafayette’s shooters came out for the second quarter cold, not scoring until 6:19 left to go in the half thanks to a three by freshman guard Abby Antogonoli.

The Leopards cycled in fresh legs managing to add points on the board. Lafayette went into the halftime break leading 25-23, looking to capitalize on the momentum they gained during the first half’s closing minutes.

The third quarter was where the Leopards fell, trailing the Raiders’ scoring by seven points in the quarter (8-15). Colgate made more shots and fewer mistakes, managing five baskets to the Leopards’ one to open the half. During the quarter, the Leopards were befallen by two independent runs of five points or more from the Raiders. 

“I thought that we played hard, but we had too many lapses in focus on both ends of the floor,” Gallagher said. 

Going into the fourth quarter, Colgate led 38-33 and looked to close out the Leopards for their first conference win of the year. However, the Leopards clawed back with a strong final quarter thanks to clutch shooting and limited mistakes.

Down by two with just five seconds left in regulation, junior guard Jessica Booth’s key free throw shots tied the game up at 47-47. However, Colgate’s sophomore forward Tiasia McMillian drove through a double team in the paint and managed to put up a floater that fell through the net with 0.07 seconds left. With no chance for rebuttal, Colgate narrowly pulled out the victory 49-47.  

“Given that we were struggling to score and move the ball on offense, we did not have the defensive energy and communication to win such a low-scoring contest,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher was named player of the game, and despite being frustrated after losing a tight match, she was honored.

“I am proud of myself for making an impact and growing into my role as the season wears on, and grateful to be recognized,” Gallagher said. “Heading into a busy stretch of home games, I think that our team has learned that each conference game cannot be taken for granted…the Colgate game exposed some of our struggles with defensive rotations, and lack of pace on offense, and these games will give us the chance to play to our potential.” 

The Leopards will host four patriot league team competitions in the first half of February, three of which will be streamed on Lafayette Sports Network. Lafayette will be traveling to West Point, NY tomorrow to battle Army at 4 p.m.