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Leopards Edged by Army in PL Action

Jan. 11, 2018

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EASTON, Pa. -- Three players in double figures was not enough for the Maroon and White on Thursday evening, as they fell at home to Army by a final score of 65-60.

Following a tough shooting first quarter for the Leopards, the contest was a power struggle the rest of the way as Lafayette's offense came alive in the middle portion of the contest, outscoring Army in both the second and third quarters. The back-and-forth game featured six lead changes, and the score was tied eight separate times over the 40 minutes.

The loss moves the Leopards to 2-3 in the Patriot League with a 6-9 record overall. Army improves 9-7 overall with a 2-3 mark in league play.

"Their pressure got us out of our offense and we weren't getting quality looks," said head coach Kia Damon. "We know how to respond when we get pressured on the ball, and it will be a collective effort from everyone to deal with that better so we can get back into the flow of our offense and playing our brand of basketball."

Neither side got much offense going early on, as Lafayette's zone frustrated the Black Knights and the Leopards shooting woes (3-for-17) sent the teams into the media timeout with the score knotted at 6-6. Lafayette struck first coming out of the timeout with a bucket from Natalie Kucowski, but Army responded with an 8-0 run over the rest of the quarter. Back-to-back threes from the Black Knight's Libby Tacka sent the Leopards into the first intermission down 14-8.

Things heated up in the second quarter as the Leopards' offense started to find the bottom of the basket, shooting a blistering 62 percent in the period. Lafayette knocked down 4-of-4 from behind the arc after not hitting a triple in the opening quarter.

Back-to-back threes from Kucowski and Anna Ptasinski pulled the Leopards within four as the score sat at 20-16 before Aliyah Murray tacked on a basket heading into the media timeout at the five minute mark. The teams traded buckets over the remaining 4:57, with Lafayette outscoring Army 13-11 the rest of the way. The Leopards knotted the score at 28-28 with 1:35 left in the first half after Olivia Martino knocked down a three at the left elbow and Sammy Stipa knocked down a pull up jumper just outside of the paint. Tacka hit a three to close the half, putting Army up 33-29 heading into the break.

The fireworks continued into the third quarter as the Leopards outscored the Black Knights 18-16 during the period. After slipping behind 41-35, Martino dropped in a layup and Ptasinski added a wide open three to pull the Leopards within one at the media timeout with 4:51 to go. The Patriot League foes traded buckets the rest of the way, with Army holding a two point lead at 49-47 heading into the final quarter.

Lafayette got out to a quick start in the fourth, as Stipa hung in the air for a spinning layup to open the scoring in the period. Ptasinski followed that up with her career-high-tying fifth three pointer of the contest to push the Leopards in front 52-49. Army responded quickly with two quick buckets from Aliyah Murray to retake the lead at 54-52. Following a Martino make from the charity stripe, the Black Knights went on a 7-0 run over the next 2:37 to take a 61-53 lead with 2:33 left to play. A basket from Martino cut the deficit to 55-61, but Army stood pat and knocked down its free throws to hand the Leopards a 65-60 loss.

Army had two players finish with double-doubles, as Murray finished with 17 points and 10 boards, while Madison Hovren ended the night with 14 points and 10 boards. Ptasinski led the way for the Leopards with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor while knocking down 5-of-9 from three. Freeland finished with 14, while Martino added 11.

Army held the edge on the boards, 36-28, while Lafayette held a slight advantage in the turnover department, finishing with 15 while forcing Army into 16. The Leopards also outpaced the Black Knights from behind the arc, knocking down 44 percent of their shots compared to 30 percent by Army.

The Maroon and White remain home for their next contest on Sunday when they welcome Loyola to Kirby Sports Center for a 2 p.m. showdown.