Women’s basketball secures win over rival Lehigh, Andrews receives Patriot League Honors

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Andrews (pictured) elevates for two points as a part of her Patriot League Player of the Week award-worthy performance against Boston University and Lehigh University. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Nick Alexander, Contributing Writer

The women’s basketball team (11-17 overall, 7-11 Patriot League) defeated rival Lehigh 65-61 last Saturday in Stabler Arena, avenging their 76-52 loss to the Mountain Hawks from Feb. 12.

The Leopards were led by sophomore guard Makayla Andrews, who put up career-high numbers with 23 points in 38 minutes played.

Andrews’ impressive performances against Boston University and Lehigh this week earned her Patriot League Player of the Week honors, marking the first weekly honor of her career.

“I’m grateful for the recognition and I’m just excited for the upcoming games,” Andrews said.

Junior guard Jessica Booth recorded 13 points with three assists and four rebounds.

Lafayette set the tone by taking a 4-0 lead to open the scoring. Lehigh battled back to bring the score to 6-5 before Andrews made back-to-back buckets to give the Leopards a 10-5 lead. Both teams then traded baskets and Lafayette took a 12-8 lead going into the second quarter.

The Leopards continued their trend of starting strong, opening up the second quarter with a 6-0 run to give themselves a 10 point lead. Lafayette continued to control the second quarter and kept their foot on the pedal, carrying the momentum into halftime leading the Mountain Hawks 29-23.

“We always talk about having a good start to the game and a good start to the half. The first couple quarters definitely gave us the confidence that we needed to finish,” Andrews said.

The strong first start by the Leopards was a sign of improvement for the team, who have often entered halftime down throughout the course of the season.

“We’re used to playing from behind and playing catch up, so it was great to finally be in front and being able to control the pace, tempo and flow of the game,” Booth said.

Lehigh showed signs of life to start the third quarter, battling back and tying the game at 39-39 with three minutes left.

Freshman guard Claire Gallagher gave Lafayette the lead again with a shot from beyond the arc to put Lafayette up 42-39. The Leopards quelled Lehigh’s run and continued to rain buckets as they closed the quarter with a 48-44 lead on their rival. 

The teams went back and forth to start the fourth quarter, but Lafayette went on a 5-0 run to take a 57-48 lead with just over three minutes left in the game. Lehigh then cut down Lafayette’s lead to five, but the Leopards responded by pushing their lead to 61-52, with thirty seconds left on the clock.

“We just kept getting stops and putting up buckets. Putting pressure on their defense really helped us, and getting second-chance shots really helped us carry out the win,” Andrews said. 

Two buckets from beyond the arc from Lehigh along with three made free throws put the Mountain Hawks within striking distance of the Leopard’s lead, all of which came in the last 27 seconds of game time. Lafayette was holding onto a slim 63-61 lead with two seconds left to play in the game. 

With a second left on the clock, Gallagher was fouled and headed to the line for two extra shots. She made both, securing Lafayette’s 65-61 victory over their rival in Bethlehem. 

“It’s always great to get a win against a rival, especially on their home court. It’s definitely a much sweeter moment now after the way they beat us the first time,” Booth said.

“We didn’t do great against them the last game, so it means a lot for us. This was kind of our revenge game, and obviously, every time we step on the court with them, it’s high stakes because they’re our rivals,” Andrews said. 

The Patriot League Tournament will begin tomorrow at 2 p.m. as Lafayette faces Loyola Maryland for the first round at home.