EASTON, Pa. - Despite shooting 7-for-35 in the first half, the Leopards battled back in the second only to fall to the Bison of Bucknell 50-49 in Kirby Sports Center on Saturday afternoon. Trailing by as many as 15 in the second half, the Leopards fought back in the final ten minutes to come as close as two with less than a minute to play.
Junior co-captain Danielle Fiacco led the Leopards (7-11, 0-3) with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field to go along with six blocks and three rebounds. Classmate Kristan Liddle poured in a season-high seven points on 3-for-6 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. Sophomore co-captain Emily Homan also chipped in nine points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Leopards shot 18-for-65 (27.7%) from the field including 4-of-14 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. The Bison (11-7, 2-1) shot 19-for-58 (32.8%) from the floor and 3-for-8 (37.5) from the three point line. Lafayette fought hard on the glass against the best rebounding team in the Patriot League, grabbing 46 boards, but the Bison were still able to outrebound the Leopards with 48 caroms.
A sloppy opening 2:49 finally culminated in the game's first points when Bucknell's Shelby Romine was able to finish on a drive down the right side of the lane to give the Bison the early advantage. On the following possession, Liddle, starting in place of Fiacco, connected on a jumper from the left elbow to tie the game at two.
A left-wing jumper from junior Kelly Loughney at the 13:12 mark tied the game at seven apiece as four turnovers in the first seven minutes of play hurt the Bison on the offensive end. Another Bison giveaway led to a Fiacco finish from the left side to give the Leopards the lead with 12:28 to go, 9-7.
With 8:24 left in the first half, junior Kelly Loughney received the ball at the top of the key. Having made just one three-pointer all season, she was allowed the shot by the Bucknell defense and made the Bison pay, putting the Maroon and White up by three, 12-9.
Liddle continued her solid performance at the 5:54 mark, draining another jumper from the elbow for her seventh point of the contest, a season-high, and pushing the Lafayette lead to two, 15-13. With 4:09 remaining and the shot clock winding down, Bucknell's Romine heaved up a deep three-pointer to try to beat the clock. Instead, she was fouled by junior Madeline Fahan and knocked down two-of-three free throws to tie the game at 17.
A 9-2 Bucknell run from that point finished off the half with the Bison leading, 26-19, going into the locker room.
Sophomore Linnel Macklin came out in the second half with some fire, notching a steal and a rebound less than 30 seconds into the second stanza. Homan finally got on the board on the second Leopard possession of the half, knocking down two free throws to cut the lead to five at 26-21.
With 15:23 on the clock, the Bison's Romine nailed a triple from the left wing to set the score at 33-23 in Bucknell's favor going into the 16-minute media timeout. Another three from Katherine Harris gave the Bison their largest lead of the game to that point at the 13:09 mark, up 13, 38-25.
At the 9:22 mark, sophomore Maddie Peabody found a cutting Homan in secondary transition, who completed a three-point play from the foul line and cut the lead to 10, 41-31. A minute-and-a-half later, the 5'5" Peabody made a block on the defensive end, grabbed the ball and went coast-to-coast for a circus-shot, and-one layup. She missed the free throw, but that play made the score, 42-33, and changed the momentum of the contest.
A three-pointer on the secondary break with 5:37 to play from senior Ashley Springer continued the Leopards' comeback as the Maroon and White pulled within four, 42-38.
After an exchange of buckets on either end, Lafayette got the ball with 1:24 on the clock, down four, 48-44. Springer drove down the left side and kicked it out to Homan on the foul line, who knocked down the jumper and cut the lead to two, 48-46 with under a minute to go.
On the ensuing possession after a Bison timeout, Romine's drive to the lane was sent back by Fiacco and Peabody corralled the rebound as a timeout was immediately called by head coach Dianne Nolan with 25.1 seconds remaining.
Out of the break, Fiacco caught an entry pass off balance from Springer and traveled before she had the chance to get a shot up. Bucknell's Romine missed the front end of a one-and-one, but on the second opportunity, Springer coughed it up on the drive.
With Bucknell up four and two seconds left on the clock, Peabody chucked a ¾-court shot at the buzzer right through the bottom of the net to make the final, 50-49.
Lafayette heads to the road on Wednesday evening for a meeting with Holy Cross at 7 p.m. in Worcester, Mass.
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