Agnello Guides Leopards into Quarterfinals
EASTON, Pa. - For the second straight season, the Lafayette women's basketball team earned a win in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, dispatching Boston U. by a final score of 66-61 in the friendly confines of Kirby Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Leopards' season continues Monday when they travel to the nation's capital to challenge No. 1 seed American in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"BU is an incredibly physical team and they put stress on our defense," head coach Kia Damon said. "It's hard to beat a team three times in a season, but we stepped up and made plays when we needed it and earned the win"
In the first postseason meeting between the two programs, sophomore Sarah Agnello guided the Leopards to victory with a career-high 24 points. The Maroon and White set a new program record with 12 made three-pointers against the Terriers, breaking the old mark of 10 that was last hit in the 2015 season against St. Francis Brooklyn. As a team, Lafayette went 12-for-23 (52%) from behind the arc, headlined by a 6-for-8 (75%) from Agnello. BU shot a dismal 4-for-17 (24%) from deep as the Maroon and White chased the Terriers off of the arc.
The opening stanza followed the script of the first two meetings between these two Patriot League foes, with both sides struggling to find a rhythm offensively. A three from Olivia Martino put the Leopards up 7-5, but BU answered immediately with two straight baskets from Sophie Beaudry and Payton Hauck to retake the lead at 9-7. The teams continued to trade blows from there as Alexis Santarelli pulled the Leopards within at 10-9 off of a jumper. The Terriers scored the final two buckets of the period however to take a 14-9 lead into the second quarter.
Lafayette was out of sync offensively to start the fourth quarter as BU took a 20-14 lead heading into the media timeout. The Leopards regrouped and found their groove following the break, using a 10-0 run over a two-minute time-span to take a 24-20 lead. The run was kick-started by seven straight points from Sammy Stipa and capped with a bucket from Agnello.
The teams traded highlight reel plays to end the quarter, with the Leopards getting a boost from Martino. The freshman rose up and knocked down a three while getting hit, leading to a four-point play. BU responded to close the half as Katie Nelson knocked down a three as time expired to cut the Leopards lead to 31-28 heading into the break.
The contest slowed down offensively in the third quarter as Lafayette edged the Terriers 12-11 in the period. A finish through a foul from Santarelli put the Leopards up 36-32 at the six minute mark. With 1:30 left in the quarter, the Terriers pulled back within two as a layup from Beaudry cut Lafayette's lead to 41-39. Agnello answered from the charity stripe for the Leopards, knocking down both shots to send the Leopards into the fourth quarter up 43-39.
BU came out fast to start the fourth quarter, opening on a 7-3 run that forced the Leopards into a timeout as the Terriers took a 48-46 lead. Santarelli tied it up coming out of the timeout, but BU answered with a trey to maintain their edge. Lafayette responded immediately, as Drew Freeland jump started a 12-0 run with a three. Agnello did the rest of the lifting during the barrage, knocking down three straight treys to put the Maroon and white up 60-51 with 3:30 left on the clock.
Katie Nelson knotted the game at 60-60 with just under two minutes to play, but Agnello lifted the Leopards once again, nailing a jumper to put the Leopards up 62-60. As the Maroon and White's defense held the Terriers scoreless during the final minute, Martino put the game on ice, knocking down a jumper and two free-throws to give the Leopards the 66-61 victory.
Martino tied her career-best with 17 points, knocking down four treys. Santarelli rounded out Lafayette's double-digit scorers, chipping in 11 points off of the bench. The Maroon and White won the battle on the boards, 35-30. BU outshot the Leopards from the floor 45 percent to 40, but the Leopards hot shooting from behind the arc paved the way for the victory.