The last time the Lafayette women’s basketball squad faced off against conference opponent Loyola University Maryland, it barely eked out an advantage on the boards. On Wednesday night in Baltimore, that narrative played out quite differently as the Leopards’ rebounding led them past the Greyhounds (2-10 overall, 5-18 Patriot League) by the score of 58-45.
Lafayette (13-11, 7-6 PL) dominated the rebounding margin 55-29 with senior center Danielle Fiacco and junior forward Emily Homan registering 24 rebounds themselves.
“Our bigs did a good job tonight,” head coach Dianne Nolan said. “They sealed on blocks and rebounded hard.”
Fiacco also recorded four blocks in the game. Prior to the tip she was ranked 11th in the NCAA in blocks per contest at 3.14 and is also the national leader with 356 blocks in her career.
The Lafayette defense in this game was very much a team effort. “Preparation was the key,” senior Kelley Loughney said.
“The day before the game we scout, and we play against our defense like the team we are going to face the next day,” Loughney said. “I think it helps us prepare for the match ups we are going to have in the games, so we know what type of defense we need to play.”
That practice enabled the Leopards to hold Loyola’s shooting percentage under 32 percent, well below the Greyhounds’ season average of 40 percent.
“We refined our defense and made a conscious effort to take away easy looks for Loyola,” Nolan said.
Lafayette’s selfless play recently has allowed for improvement on both sides of the court.
“Everyone contributed,” Nolan said. “After our weekend loss the team refocused and did good work.”
In last Saturday’s game, Lafayette lost a home-court squeaker to the Boston University Terriers (4-8, 9-16 PL) by a score of 61-59. Led by Brya Freeland’s season-high 13 points, Lafayette kept closing the gap in the late going, but ultimately fell short in its bid for a fifth straight win.
“We kept fighting but didn’t make enough shots and a few stops short,” Nolan said, who refused to make too much of the game’s outcome, calling it “a bump in the road.”
“Our offense is solid and I have confidence in its return,” she said. “Our players know what needs to be done.”
The game was tied at the half and saw a number of lead changes in the second period. Each time one team pulled ahead, the other one seemed to have the answer.
With less than three minutes on the clock, Lafayette was down by only two. Then BU’s Rashidat Agboola topped off a 20-point performance with a basket in the paint, pushing the score to 61-57. Lafayette’s Emily Homan sank a pair of free throws to narrow the gap but that was as close as Lafayette got, the team coming up empty on its last two possessions.
Next up for Lafayette is a trip to Washington D.C. to face American University (16-7, 9-3 PL). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.