Leopards Come Out on Top in Road Battle at Holy Cross
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Leopards overcame a tough shooting second quarter to hold on for a four point victory on the road at Holy Cross on Tuesday evening, claiming a 69-65 win at the Hart Center.
The Leopards (5-7, 1-1 PL) had four players finish in double figures while the Crusaders (6-7, 1-1 PL) leaned on Lauren Manis who finished with a game-high 26 points. Olivia Martino led the Maroon and White with 17 points while Natalie Kucowski finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds to record her third straight double-double.
A back-and-forth opening quarter saw the Leopards head into the first intermission with a 21-14 lead. The Maroon and White were hitting everything to open the contest, shooting 75 percent in the first quarter while locking down Holy Cross’ attack to the tune of 31 percent shooting.
The Crusaders went up 4-2 early but the Maroon and White responded with a 7-0 run to head into the media timeout up 9-4 after Alexis Santarelli finished smoothly in the post. Holy Cross struck first coming out of the break, but Santarelli answered immediately for the Leopards. The teams traded blows over the remaining 3:23 before Anna Ptasinski knocked down a three in transition as time expired to put the Leopards up seven heading into the second quarter.
The Leopards had a tough time getting their shots to fall in the second quarter, going 4-for-15 from the field. Holy Cross answered Ptasinski’s buzzer beater with a 7-2 run to open the second quarter before Kucowski went coast-to-coast to put an end to the Crusaders’ opening salvo. Coming out of the media timeout, Martino put the Leopards up 28-24 with 3:43 left in the quarter after collecting a miss and dropping in a baby hook. Holy Cross forced the Leopards into a timeout after back-to-back-baskets put the Crusaders up 30-28. Ellen Graham the final bucket of the half with 1:10 to play to send the Maroon and White into the break down by three, 33-30.
The Leopards reclaimed the lead in the early goings of the third quarter, answering two straight Crusader buckets with an 8-0 run up to the media timeout. Martino initiated the run with a corner three before Ptasinski put the Maroon and White up 42-39 with 4:41 left in the quarter. A huge block from Kucowski forced the Crusaders into a timeout with 2:16 to play. The teams traded blows to end the quarter, with Lafayette holding a 52-50 advantage to open the final stanza.
It came down to the wire in the fourth quarter, with both teams trading buckets throughout the final stanza. Holy Cross took a 58-54 lead behind a jumper from Infiniti Thomas-Waheed with 5:27 to go. The teams battled back-and-forth before Martino tied the game at 62-62 with a baseline drive at the two minute mark. It came down to free throws at the end, and the Maroon and White knocked theirs down to close the contest, with Martino knocking down six from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to help the Leopards see out a 69-65 win.
Santarelli and Freeland were the other Leopards to finish in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively. Lafayette won the battle on the glass, 46-41. The Maroon and White’s defense was a factor once again, forcing the Crusaders into a 31 percent shooting night from the floor.
The Leopards return home on Friday, Jan. 5 to continue Patriot League play against Colgate. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.