Early Exit: Women’s basketball loses to Colgate in first round

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Jamie O’Hare dribbles the ball down the court in game against Bucknell. Photo by Hana Isihara 17.

Katherine Weeks

In a season plagued by injuries and illness, the Lafayette women’s basketball team looked to beat the odds this past Saturday in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament at Colgate.

Their season was ultimately cut short when the Raiders rallied for the victory, beating the Leopards 80-68. Lafayette finished with an overall record of 6-23, going 4-14 in conference play.

Despite outstanding performances from junior Maia Hood and senior Jamie O’Hare, foul trouble ultimately took its toll as Colgate outscored Lafayette 22-8 in the third quarter.

“I think we just kind of got real cold coming into the second half,” said Hood, who scored a career and game-high 27 points for the Leopards. “There were five of us who had four fouls, so there were a lot of subs being made…it was kind of hard adjusting.”

The first time Lafayette played Colgate, back on Dec. 22, Hood bruised a bone. She then reinjured it in the game against Bucknell on senior day. Despite the pain, Hood managed to lead the Leopards on Saturday, capitalizing on transition baskets.

“The only thing I could do was run in a straight line,” said Hood who spent her first two seasons at Lafayette battling multiple ACL injuries. “I couldn’t play defense or anything, so I was like, ‘Ok, I’m going to go in and just run straight,’ and that actually was really effective because Colgate couldn’t handle our press break. So we just kept running on them.”

Sophomore point guard Sammy Stipa was supposed to return from a high ankle sprain to play in Saturday’s game as well, but caught the norovirus that has been plaguing Lafayette’s campus on the bus ride to the game.

“We spent most of the year injured,” head coach Theresa Grentz said. “There are two things you can’t control; the officials and injuries…so you have to live through them.”

Despite these persistent ailments, Lafayette continued to compete with every team they played, including top-seeded Bucknell on senior day, just three days prior to their loss at Colgate. Strong second and third quarters kept Lafayette within striking distance, but the team ultimately fell in their last home game 68-59.  

O’Hare, who added 15 assists to the effort against Colgate, placing her second in the program’s records for all-time assists, was key in their matchup with the Bison on March 2. O’Hare tallied 12 points, nine steals and eight assists on the evening, while fellow senior Annette Snow added three points and five rebounds of her own.

“Senior day was absolutely amazing,” said Snow, one of the team’s co-captains. “Nobody else really saw what went on behind the scenes. The team just made it so memorable for me and Jamie. It was definitely the one night I would remember in all of the games that I’ve been here.”

With the season complete, Grentz, Hood and the rest of the Leopards look to the future of the program with positivity. In her first season as head coach Grentz made some drastic changes to Lafayette’s style of play, and plans to continue shifting the program as the off-season approaches.

“Compared to the last two years the coaching style is much different,” Hood said. “Everything was more up-tempo and intense, and she kind of emphasized that win or lose, we still need to play as a team.”

Hood commented on the amount of conditioning the team will be doing in the off-season as they prepare for the incoming class of freshmen – a class consisting of high school state champions and top Patriot League recruits.

“We will get a lot of our work done now these next three and a half months,” said Grentz, a former Olympic coach and member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. “We will train the way you train…an Olympic team. How much of that we can actually do, we’re going to find out. But we’re going to push – we’re going to push out of that comfort zone.”

The new recruit excitement is accompanied by heartache as the program says goodbye to another excellent senior class.  

“Annette brought a worldly approach to the program,” Grentz said. “She was somebody who thought out of the box a lot, and we’ll miss that. Obviously Jamie was just a marathoner in the number of minutes she played, and the passion – I will personally miss her passion. That was a young person who truly, truly loved the game.”

“They made us feel like they were our sisters,” Hood added. “They were leaders on and off the court. Whenever we needed something they were always there for us.”

For the seniors, the sentiment is mutual.

“I’ve been on teams where we don’t really get along very well,” Snow said. “But on this team I can honestly say that I got close with every single girl…so that was just huge for me – building that lifetime friendship.”

The team has three weeks off and then will resume training after spring break.

“I am so excited,” said Grentz of the 2016-17 season. “I really love these young women and I’m looking forward to next year with our new folks coming in, and the staff – it’s just a great opportunity.”