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Leopards to Compete in Thanksgiving Challenge

Nov. 21, 2012

Game Notes
Lafayette at Monmouth
Friday Nov. 23 | 6 p.m.
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The Lafayette women’s basketball team tries to get back into the win column, traveling to Monmouth on Friday evening as part of the Thanksgiving Challenge, which features tonight’s game and Sunday’s matchup with Wagner at Lehigh. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. inside the Multipurpose Activity Center. The Leopards (1-3) are 2-4 against the Hawks (0-3) all time and lost their last meeting last season, 58-54 in Staten Island, N.Y. as part of the Thanksgiving Challenge on Nov. 27, 2011.


Just four days after a 73-34 loss to Villanova, the Lafayette women’s basketball team’s schedule did not get any easier, as it fell to then-No. 9 Penn State, 75-34 on Sunday afternoon inside Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions are currently ranked sixth in the AP poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today standings.

Junior co-captain Danielle Fiacco was held scoreless for just the second time in her career, the other being against St Bonaventure on Dec. 1, 2010. Fiacco went 0-for-10 from the field, but did manage seven rebounds and six blocks. With those stuffs, Fiacco moved to 201 for her career, the school record in that category.

The bright spot for the Lafayette offense was sophomore forward Emily Homan, who tallied 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting in her first start of the season. Homan also recorded six rebounds, two blocks, one assist and a steal on the afternoon. The co-captain was also the leading scorer the last time the Leopards played a ranked team, notching 13 points against then-No. 5 Maryland on Dec. 28, 2011.

The Leopards shot 19.7% from the field on 12-of-61 shooting, while the Nittany Lions made 30-of-73 shots for a 41.1% mark. Senior guard Mia Nickson and junior position-mate Maggie Lucas led the way for Penn State with 11 points apiece.


Monmouth comes into tonight’s contest looking for its first win, falling to Gonzaga and Washington State in its cross-country road trip this past weekend. The third defeat came in the Hawks’ season-opener in Baltimore, Md., a 71-68 loss to UMBC. The loss to Washington State was by a 79-69 margin, while Gonzaga dropped Monmouth, 77-51.

The Hawks are led, substantially, by senior guard Alysha Womack, who is averaging 22.3 points per game in her first three contests. Womack also averages 4.3 rebounds per game and is shooting 52.9% from the field. Junior guard Chevannah Paalvast also averages in double figures, scoring 10.3 per game for the Hawks. Paalvast, who also sees time at the forward spot, rips down five rebounds per contest.


Friday evening’s contest is one of four games that will be played at Monmouth and Lehigh this weekend as part of the Thanksgiving Challenge. Before the Lafayette vs. Monmouth contest, Lehigh and Wagner will face off at 4 p.m. On Sunday, thr four teams will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. as Lehigh and Monmouth will battle at 2 p.m. and the Leopards will match up with Wagner at 4 p.m.


Lafayette head coach Dianne Nolan enters today’s matchup with a career record of 537-460 and a 20-44 mark in her third year at Lafayette. On the other side, Monmouth head coach Jenny Palmateer is in her second season with the Hawks. Palmateer holds an overall mark of 19-16 and led Monmouth to the NEC championship game last season, falling to Sacred Heart, 58-48.


Friday’s game will mark the seventh time Lafayette has matched up with Monmouth in its history and the first of three Northeast Conference opponents it will face this season, taking on Wagner on Sunday at Lehigh and St. Francis (N.Y.) on Dec. 21. The Leopards are 26-29 all-time against NEC opponents, having played all teams in the conference except St. Francis (Pa.) and Robert Morris in their history.


Emily Homan was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year following the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, as voted upon by the league’s head coaches. Homan led all freshmen in points, rebounds, blocked shots and free throw percentage during league play. She averaged 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds while hauling in a league-best 3.9 offensive boards per game during the 14-game Patriot League slate. Homan joined Christel Rocha ’01 as Lafayette’s two Rookies of the Year in 22 seasons of Patriot League basketball.

Homan, nursing a sprained ankle through the first three games, saw 17 minutes of action against Villanova and started her first game of the season against Penn State. Homan led the Leopards with 11 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of play at State College.


This season, Lafayette has been trailing at the half in all four games, but played Seton Hall to a 29-29 tie in the second half on Nov. 10 and held Loyola Chicago to just 15 points in the second 20 minutes of that game to allow for the comeback. Despite trailing 43-14 at halftime against Villanova, the Leopards played a tough second-half, leading to a 30-20 second-half line and down 42-14 at half to Penn State, the Leopards played the then-No. 9 Nittany Lions to a 33-20 margin in the second stanza.

The Leopards held a halftime lead in four of their Patriot League losses last season. Defending champion Navy rallied from a 12-point deficit at the intermission to steal a 60-55 decision on Jan. 7, and host Army overcame a seven-point margin to eke out a 44-43 victory to open the league slate. Lafayette owned a four-point edge over Bucknell at the break on Feb. 11 but ultimately fell to the visiting Bison, 65-54.