Fourth Quarter Push Not Enough Against Princeton
EASTON, Pa. – A strong final quarter and a double-double from Natalie Kucowski were not enough to push Lafayette women’s basketball past Princeton on Wednesday evening as the Tigers walked away with a 53-45 win.
Princeton jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter as the Leopards struggled to get their shots to fall and the Tigers were playing a ball hawking brand of defense. The Maroon and White battled back into the contest as it wore on, but that early deficit was too much to overcome. Kucowski battled Princeton standout Bella Alarie all night and the duo both finished with double-doubles as Kucowski led Lafayette with 14 points and 15 boards while Alarie ended the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Maroon and White had a difficult time finding the bottom of the net in the first quarter, shooting 21 percent from the floor over the opening 10 minutes. The Tigers held the Leopards to four points in the first seven minutes of the contest before a three from Anna Ptasinski cut the lead to 7-13 wiht 2:53 to play in the quarter. The Tigers added five unanswered before Sammy Stipa banked in a jumper to close out the quarter with the Leopards down 18-9.
The Maroon and White gained some steam in the second quarter, going blow for blow with the Tigers scoring 13 in the quarter to Princeton’s 14. The Leopards started the quarter on a 7-2 run over the first 3:25 of the period, with Ptasinski draining a trey to kick-off the run. Princeton answered with an 11-2 run of their own to take a 32-17 lead as the half wound down.
Lafayette had the final say in the quarter, scoring five points over the final 41 seconds. Ptasinski sent a jumper in from the free throw line to make it 32-19. On the following possession, the senior picked off a Princeton pass to start a Lafayette break. Kucwoski found the ball in her hands on the other end and calmly drained a three to beat the buzzer and send the Leopards into the break down by ten, 32-22.
Teams traded buckets to start the third quarter, with neither side giving much ground to the other. Back to back buckets from Stipa and Drew Freeland cut the Tigers lead to nine with 5:54 left in the quarter. Princeton responded with three straight baskets to take a 45-29 point lead before Ptasinski knocked down two from the charity stripe to send the Leopards into the fourth quarter down 45-31.
The Leopards staged a valiant comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 14-8, but the damage was already done. After two buckets from Princeton’s Lauren Robinson to open the quarter, the Maroon and White answered with a 9-0 run over the next 3:03 to cut the deficit to eight with the score at 48-40. Kucwoski scored seven of the nine points during the run, bringing the Maroon and White back into the game.
Princeton and the Leopards traded a few buckets as time wound down. Freeland knocked down a free throw to pull Lafayette within seven with 1:58 left on the clock. That was as close as the Leopards got, as the Tigers held on for the 53-45 victory.
Ptasinski finished with 12 for the Leopards while Freeland tied her career-high with nine points. Lafayette won the battle on the boards, 44-37. The Maroon and White outshout the Tigers from the floor, 33.3 percent to 30 percent, and from deep where Lafayette again shot 33.3 percent compared to a 28 percent mark from the Tigers.
The Maroon and White are back in action this Saturday when they hit the road for a Saturday matinee at Robert Morris. The contest is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.