Women’s basketball beats Loyola, closes season with defeat in Patriot League Quarterfinals

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The women’s basketball team huddles at halftime during their final regular season game against Loyola. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Issy Bongiovanni, Staff Writer

The women’s basketball team (12-18 overall, 7-11 Patriot League) faced off against Loyola Maryland this past Saturday for the first round of the Patriot League Championship Tournament, winning 58-49. 

“We knew that Loyola was going to be a tough game regardless of the fact that we had already beat them twice,” senior forward Naomi Ganpo said. “They make new adjustments, and we also make new adjustments just because we play them a lot. We just had to stick to our game plan and make sure that we were a defensive threat.” 

With this victory, the Leopards advanced to the tournament quarterfinals for the first time since the 2018-2019 season. 

“We all picked it up with a different kind of energy going into a game. If you lose, you’re done. I thought we all did what we needed to do,” freshman guard Claire Gallagher said. 

Ganpo was the first to score a two for the Maroon and White, with the Greyhounds quickly responding with two shots and taking a 4-2 lead.

“I thought that I adjusted well when Loyola would crash in on me or try to double me. I was able to find my teammate [Gallagher] for a three-pointer,” Ganpo said. “I personally love assists, sometimes more than I like scoring myself just because it’s very satisfying being able to have my teammate’s back and making a play out of it.”

Gallagher then scored from behind the arc to bring Lafayette back in the lead. Ganpo added to the score with a layup, putting the Leopards up by three. 

“I just know anytime I come in the game and if I’m open, I’m gonna let the ball fly. We needed to win, and I was able to knock down some shots,” Gallagher said. 

Loyola proceeded with a 5-0 run to put them back in the lead. Junior guard Jessica Booth made a layup to secure a 9-9 tie, and the two sides proceeded to trade buckets until the first quarter ended with the teams tied 11-11.

The Greyhounds started off the second period with a three-pointer and then a two. Freshman guard Abby Antognoli hit two jumpers to close the gap and put the Leopards down by just one, 16-15.

“Abby had an amazing game, setting up and hitting big shots as a freshman, [Ganpo] on the glass finishing inside, I think we all did what we needed to get done,” Gallagher said. 

Loyola then went on a run to score six more points, giving them a 22-15 lead. Antognoli and sophomore guard Makayla Andrews quelled the run by scoring on back-to-back possessions, bringing Lafayette within two. The second quarter closed with Lafayette lagging behind by just one at 25-24. 

“Our first half we had a slow start, it’s not something that we should have let happen. We want to be sure that we dominate throughout the whole game because it’s what’s able to give us our momentum,” Ganpo said.

The third quarter kicked off with Antognoli netting two buckets to give the Maroon and White the lead. From there, Lafayette never looked back, scoring 22 points in the third quarter, making the score 46-39. 

“We were down and were able to bring ourselves back up at halftime. We’re a team that very much has a spark coming off in the third quarter,” Ganpo said. “I felt like it was displayed playing against them and we were able to keep our lead throughout the rest of the game.”

Ganpo rang in the fourth quarter with a jumper to bring Lafayette ahead by nine. The Greyhounds put in a three, but Antognoli sank a three in response to bring the score to 53-42.  

“Abby definitely stood out for me this game. She’s been settling into her role really well and she’s really trying to get acclimated with the pace of the game and her position herself,” Ganpo said. “I’m really happy that her hard work is able to be paid off on the court, she had a really good game and was able to keep us up against Loyola. As a freshman, she’s already scoring over twenty points. It’s amazing.”

Lafayette and Loyola traded a few more buckets to finish out the fourth quarter, but the Maroon and White secured the win with a 58-49 final score. The game was full of accomplishments for the Leopards. Antognoli recorded a career-high of 22 points, Gallagher scored 12 and Ganpo recorded nine rebounds. 

The team’s season came to an unfortunate end on Monday night in the Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinals as they lost to American University 54-48.

The Leopards were led by Ganpo with a double-double of ten points and a career-high 20 rebounds on the day. Antognoli and Booth also recorded in the double digits with 10 points each.

While the score remained close throughout the game and Lafayette continuously chipped away at American’s lead, the Eagles were able to keep Lafayette at bay to solidify their victory.