Sweet Victory: After Defeat to Army, Women’s Hoops Picks up First League Win Against Lafayette

Bill Stoklosa

The waiting is over! After losing 59-39 at Army, the women’s basketball team’s 24-game Patriot League losing streak ended with a 62-61 win at Lafayette.

Colgate traveled to West Point last Saturday to battle the Black Knights for the second time this season. Though the trip along the Hudson was probably quite beautiful, the game itself was not. Army started out strong and never looked back. The Black Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first four minutes of the contest thanks to a run capped off by a three from Megan Evans. Colgate hung around for most of the half, but could not take a lead. With 8:12 left in the half, Colgate once again found itself down seven at 18-11. However, Colgate scored on a three from sophomore guard Tayler Wejnert and a layup from sophomore guard Sami Kozlowski to cut the lead to 18-16. However, Army ended the half on a 14-4 run and led 32-20 going into the locker room. Colgate never got the deficit back down under 10 and fell by a 59-39 final.

Kozlowski and Wejnert were the two bright spots on offense on the afternoon. Kozlowski scored 15 points on 6-11 shooting, while Wejnert recorded 12 points on 4-8 shooting. Together they accounted for 27 of Colgate’s 39 points. Head Coach Pam Bass was impressed by their play.

“Sami had one of the best games in her career on both sides of the floor,” Head Coach Pam Bass said. “She did a great job stopping Alex McGuire who is one of their best players. On offense, both Taylor and Sami did a great job attacking off the dribble.”

Obviously the two players needed some help on offense, and they didn’t get it. Another big problem for Colgate was allowing Army to pull down a staggering 14 offensive rebounds. The Head Coach tried to explain Colgate’s problem.

“It’s about focus, it’s about hustle and it’s about boxing out,” Coach Bass said. “We can outrebound any team in the League if we get that hustle. We have that ability because we have guards that can crash the boards.”

Army received a stellar performance from forward Erin Anthony, who scored 18 points, while guard Laura Baranek also was in double digits with 16 points. As Coach Bass indicated Sami Kozlowski did a great job locking down guard Alex McGuire. She is leading Army with 13.3 point per game, but scored just six against the Raiders.

Colgate’s next matchup, a Wednesday night tilt against Lafayette, turned out much better. Colgate grabbed a 14-13 lead on a layup by Kozlowski, and then Wejnert upped the lead to three with a layup of her own. Then first-year center Tricia Oakes, in her first game back after suffering a concussion, nailed a jumper off an assist from Kozlowski to up the lead to 18-13. At the 7:21 mark with the Raiders now up six, it looked like Colgate might pull away. Wejnert hit a three followed by a deuce from first-year guard Candice Green to stake Colgate to a 25-14 lead. However, the Leopards ended the half on a 17-9 run and entered the locker room down 34-31.

Colgate came out strong in the second half, scoring the first seven points thanks to four points from Kozlowski and a big three from senior Gretchen Polinski. However, the Leopards once again battled back, scoring 10 straight points to knot the score up at 41 with 11:14 remaining. The momentum swung back and forth for a while, but with 4:30 left in the game, it looked like Colgate might take control of the contest. Wejnert drained a shot from downtown to up the lead to 54-50, but Lafayette guard Jessica Spicer came right back and hit a three of her own. However, Polinski continued the three barrage with a rainmaker that upped Colgate’s lead to four once again. A Wejnert layup increased the Raider lead to six, then first-year guard Kelly Korkowski hit a two off a pass from sophomore forward Georgia Gier to stake Colgate to a 61-53 lead with just 2:16 remaining. However, things were about to get interesting.

With 1:02 left Lafayette cut the lead to five after forward Emily Garner got a layup plus one at the line. Then Colgate’s Wejnert missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Lafayette quickly took advantage with a three from guard Cristin Zavocki off an assist from Garner, which cut the lead to 61-59 with 29 seconds left. Kozlowski then went to the line for the Raiders to try and ice the game. She made the front end of the one-and-one but missed the second. Down 62-59, Lafayette opted to go for two and got a layup from Jessica Spicer with 17 seconds left to cut the deficit to 62-61. Then Korkowski stepped to the line for Colgate and she missed the front end of the one-and-one. Colgate now had to win the game on the defensive end. Lafayette had 14 seconds to get a shot off and with one second remaining Cristin Zavocki launched a three that was way off. Colgate escaped with a 62-61 victory.

Bad foul shooting down the stretch almost cost Colgate the game, but the end result was Colgate’s first league win since the 2006-2007 season, and Coach’s Bass’ first league win since becoming Head Coach. The key to Colgate’s win was simple: they committed a season low 10 turnovers in the game. That’s a big step for a team that has constantly found itself on the losing end of the turnover battle. Like the turnover stats, the rest of the box score was pretty even across most of the major statistical categories.

Colgate was led in scoring by Taylor Wejnert who had 16 on the night. Korkowski and Green were also in double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively. Colgate also got solid performances from Gretchen Polinski, who had nine points and 10 boards, and Sami Kozlowski who had four assists to go with nine points. Tricia Oakes struggled in her first game back scoring just four points.

Lafayette was led by Jessica Spicer with 16 points while Garner and Zavocki had 16 and 14 respectively.

Colgate now has a 2 p.m. game at home against American on Saturday.