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Balanced Attack Leads Women's Basketball Past Columbia, 53-45

Kristan Liddle drives for two of her career-high nine points

Jan. 4, 2012

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EASTON, Pa. - All 10 active players scored - led by a career-high nine points from Kristan Liddle - as the Lafayette women's basketball team concluded its non-Patriot League schedule with a 53-45 triumph over visiting Columbia on Wednesday evening at Kirby Sports Center.

With the eight-point win, the Leopards enter league play with a record of 6-9. Lafayette has posted an even 6-6 mark since opening 2011-12 with three straight losses. Columbia falls to 2-11 in defeat.

Seven of Liddle's nine points came in the opening half as the Leopards erased an 18-9 deficit. Emily Homan, the reigning Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Week, posted seven points and hauled in a team-high 11 rebounds. Linnel Macklin set a new career standard with six points, while Danielle Fiacco and Ashley Springer also added six apiece. Brya Freeland and Maddie Peabody each poured in five points, Samantha Jordan tallied four, Melissa Downey drained a three-pointer and Alicia Manning rounded out the balanced effort with two points off the bench. The Lafayette bench - led by Liddle's nine - outscored the starters by a 28-25 margin.

The Leopards, who shot 55.8 percent from the floor on Saturday at Pittsburgh, continued to raise their season average with a 20-for-47 (42.6 percent) evening from the field. Lafayette was 3-for-7 (42.9 percent) from three-point range and 10-for-19 (52.6 percent) from the free throw line.

The Lafayette defense held Columbia to a16-for-58 (27.6 percent) from the field performance, supplemented by a 6-for-27 (27.3 percent) showing from downtown and a 7-for-10 (70 percent) day at the stripe.

The Lions stayed in the game through offensive rebounds, as 20 rips from their own glass led to 21 second-chance points. In total, the Leopards were outdone on the boards, 44-31. Lafayette won the turnover battle, 18-13.

Both teams struggled offensively in the early stages of the game, playing to an 8-8 deadlock with 12:39 left in the half. At that point, the Leopards missed their next five field goals as Columbia jumped out to an 18-9 lead over the ensuing 5:51 of action. Lafayette responded by controlling the remainder of the half, as back-to-back buckets by Liddle started a 20-7 run that sent the Leopards into the locker room holding a 29-25 advantage.

Springer added six to Liddle's half-best seven points. As a team, the Leopards shot 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) from the field, 2-for-4 (50 percent) from three-point range and 9-for-12 (75 percent) from the free throw line. Homan hauled in a half-high six boards - though the Leopards were outrebounded, 22-13, in the period - and dished out three assists in the first 20 minutes of action.

After committing four turnovers over the first 9:09 of the outing, the Leopards had just one miscue over the final 10:51 over the period. Lafayette's five turnovers were converted into just three points by the visitors, while the Leopards created seven points from Columbia's eight first-half turnovers.

The Lions shot 9-for-29 (31 percent) from the floor, 3-for-10 (30 percent) from downtown and 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) from the stripe in the first half. Tyler Simpson matched Liddle's half high with seven points.

The Leopards' run continued after the intermission, extending to 31-10 overall as the home team claimed a 40-28 lead with 15 minutes left to play. The cushion grew as large as 18 points at 53-35 with just 4:06 left. Columbia went out strong with the final 10 points of the game, but the lead proved insurmountable, and Lafayette walked away with a 53-45 victory.

The Lions' Tyler Simpson led all scorers with 13 points. Amara Mbionwu, a high school teammate of Macklin's, tore down a game-high 15 points.

The Leopards begin Patriot League play on Saturday, Jan. 7 with a visit from defending league champion Navy. Tipoff from Kirby Sports Center is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Lafayette Sports Network and