Kucowski's Double-Double Leads Leopards Past Wagner
EASTON, Pa. – The Leopards offense came alive against the Seahawks, pouring in a season-high 70 points to secure their fourth win of the season by a final score of 70-52.
Freshman Natalie Kucowski was a guiding hand for the Leopards on both ends of the floor as the Philadelphia, Pa. native secured her fourth career double-double, finishing with 15 points and 18 boards while chipping in five assists. Fellow freshman Drew Freeland acted as the tip of the spear for Lafayette’s offense, dropping a career-high 17 points. The Leopards kept up their solid defensive play, holding Wagner to 34 percent from the floor for the contest.
“We got away from what worked in the first quarter and kept trying to go for home run plays,” head coach Kia Damon stated. “Our transition game really picked up in the second half and it boosted their energy on both ends of the floor and we saw that in how they played today.”
The Leopards came firing out of the gates, opening an emphatic 11-2 lead over the first 4:44. Back-to-back baskets from Ellen Graham and Alexis Santarelli capped the opening salvo before a three from Sierra Clark broke up the run. The Leopards kept their foot on the gas for the remainder of the quarter and headed into the first intermission up 22-11 after shooting a blistering 52.6 percent from the floor.
Wagner battled back into the contest in the second quarter, outscoring the Maroon and white 18-8 in the period. The Seahawks were able to capitalize on Leopards’ turnovers, getting 11 points from miscues. Clark led the charge for Wagner, scoring 11 of her game-high 29 points in the quarter. A trey from the fifth-year senior cut Lafayette’s lead to one before Sammy Stipa found Kucowski for a lay-in as time expired to give the Leopards a 30-29 lead at the halftime break.
The Leopards wrangled the momentum back from Wagner in the third quarter, holding the Seahawks to 26 percent shooting from the floor. The Maroon and White added 18 points in the quarter behind a combined 10 from Anna Ptasinski and Kucowski. Olivia Martino added an emphatic end to the quarter, knocking down a highlight-reel three from just past half-court to beat the buzzer.
Thanks to Martino’s deep-ball, Lafayette started the final quarter up by nine. The Maroon and White built on that lead in the final stanza as Freeland poured in 10 during the period, including two-straight three’s that put the Leopards up 57-42 with 6:17 left to play. Lafayette saw out the remainder from the contest from there, earning the 70-52 victory inside of Kirby Sports Center.
Clark led all scorers with 29 while Freeland paced Lafayette with 17. The Leopards won the battle on the boards, 41-34. The Maroon and White were able to impose their will down low all afternoon, finishing with 26 points in the paint to Wagner’s 16.
The Leopards take a break for the holiday before returning to action on Dec. 29 when they open Patriot League play at Lehigh. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.