2017-18 Season Draws to a Close in PLT Quarterfinals
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Lafayette women's basketball team's 2017-18 season came to a close on Monday evening as the Leopards fell in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Tournament to the No. 1 seeded Eagles of American University.
"Our three seniors have been great and have really helped bring along our younger players," head coach Kia Damon said. "They welcomed and embraced my staff and I, and bought into everything we wanted to do this season and they will be missed next year."
Despite a strong effort on the defensive end, the Leopards couldn't get their footing offensively to start the contest, slipping behind the Eagles in the first quarter. Both sides struggled from the floor, as American went 18-for-57 (31%) while the Leopards shot 12-for-57 (21%). The Maroon and White recovered defensively in the second quarter, holding the Eagles to six points and a 26 percent mark from the floor, but the Eagles early lead held the rest of the way as the Maroon and White couldn't overcome the deficit.
The Leopards couldn't get their offense going in the first quarter, as the Eagles opened the game on a 17-0 run over the first seven minutes of the contest. Olivia Martino finally got the Maroon and White on the board at the two minute mark, knocking down three at the charity stripe to make it 18-3. Lafayette held American to four more points the rest of the way, as the Eagles took a 22-3 lead into the second quarter.
Lafayette was able to find more success offensively in the second quarter as they were able to slow down the Eagles' attack. The Leopards held American to six points in the quarter, only allowing two points over the first seven minutes of the period. Sammy Stipa grabbed the Maroon and White' first bucket in the quarter, knocking down a pull-up jumper. Stipa added a three to make it 24-8 heading into the media timeout. Sarah Agnello added a trey to close the opening half as the Leopards continued to claw back into the contest.
Defense continued to dominate the conversation in the third quarter, as the Leopards held the Eagles to a 33% mark from the floor. American went back-and-forth with the Leopards over the first six minutes of the quarter, scoring nine to Lafayette's six. Natalie Kucowski got things started with a trip to the charity stripe and Nia Holland polished off a drive to basket to make it 37-19 at the media timeout. Lafayette earned two more trips to the free throw line during the period but headed into the fourth quarter down 44-23.
The final stanza saw the back-and forth continue as the Leopards turned to the post for a source of offense. Alexis Santarelli finished strong through a foul and completed the three-point play from the line. Martino followed with a three that cut the deficit to 47-29. American continued to find the bottom of the basket however, and the deficit was too much for the Leopards to overcome, as the Eagles earned a 55-35 win.
Kucowski finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, which gave the rookie another spot in the Lafayette record books. The Philadelphia, Pa. native finished the season with 309 rebounds, setting the record for single-season rebounds. The previous best was 299 which was set by Alicia Yapsuga '99.
The Leopards edged American on the glass, 45-40. American was able to build their lead by taking advantage of Lafayette's miscues, adding 20 points off of turnovers.