First-Place Floundering: Women’s Basketball Loses at Home to the PL’s Two Best Teams

Bill Stoklosa

The two teams that are currently firsr (Lehigh) and second (American) in the Patriot League came into Hamilton to battle the women’s basketball team recently, and the results were predictable. Both American and Lehigh easily defeated Colgate, with the Eagles winning 60-38 and the Mountain Hawks coasting 71-42.

Last Saturday it was the American Eagles who took the floor at Cotterell Court to battle the Raiders. The Eagles came into the game tied for first place looking to take the Raiders as their prey. Unfortunately, they did, so the only real positives from the game were the pink T-shirts and leis that were distributed to students and the dancing antics of NCAA mascot, a giant frog, J.J. Jumper.

In the first half, Colgate didn’t score until there was 10:12 left in the half, when sophomore forward Krista Moser went 1-2 from the charity stripe, ending an Eagle 17-0 run. Moser would later knock down Colgate’s first field goal with 9:14 left in the half. In other words Colgate didn’t get a field goal until the half was more than 50% over. After Moser’s field goal, American responded with a 19-8 run to take an unbelievable 36-12 advantage into the locker room.

“We got some very good shots in the first, but they just didn’t fall,” Head Coach Pam Bass said. “Also our passing was not on target. I like to talk about passing to the mailbox versus passing to the zip code. In the first half we were passing to the zip code, not the mailbox.”

Colgate showed some life to start the second half, as they rattled off the frame’s first seven points thanks to layups from sophomore guards Sami Kozlowski and Tayler Wejnert, and a three from senior guard Gretchen Polinski. The run cut the lead to 36-19, but Colgate couldn’t get the defecit below 14 at any point for the remainder of the half and fell by a 60-38 score.

Kozlowski was the lone Raider in double figures with 14 points. Colgate only committed one more turnover than the Eagles, but its atrocious shooting made that statistic irrelevant. Colgate shot just 28.9% from the field on the afternoon and shot a mind-blowing 3-20 (15%) in the first half. American shot much better, making 52.3% of their shots from the field in the game. The Eagles were led in scoring by forward Michelle Kirk with 19 points and forward Liz Leer with 13.

Colgate’ next match-up against a first-place foe, a Wednesday night tilt against the Lehigh Mountainhawks, actually went worse. With 10:27 left in the first half, Kozlowski dished to Moser, who laid the ball in to cut the Lehigh lead to 15-10. However, Colgate’s offense stalled and Lehigh finished the half on a16-7 run to take a 31-17 lead into the break.

It looked like Colgate would make a game of it early in the second, however. The Raiders were down 13 with 17:07 left in the game but then rattled off four straight points thanks to a layup from Kozlowski and a pair of free throws from Wejnert. The mini-run cut the lead to 34-25. Lehigh built its advantage a little over the next few minutes, but Colgate looked like they might get the momentum back when Polinski nailed a three with 11:56 left to pull the Raiders to within 10, at 44-34. However, rather than seizing the momentum, Colgate let Lehigh put the game away. Lehigh went on a 13-0 run over the next 5:44 and built up a 57-34 lead, an advantage Colgate never came close to overcoming. When it was all said and done, Lehigh left Hamilton with a 71-42 victory.

The difference in the game was from the charity stripe and behind the three point arc. Colgate shot just 40% from the foul line, and 12.5% from downtown. Lehigh on the other hand shot a solid 70.6% from the line and an astronomical 56.3% from long-range. Keying the Lehigh attack from downtown was guard Alex Ross, who shot an almost unbelievable 7-8 from long range to help her amass a game-high 27 points. Colgate’s leading scorer was first-year guard Kelly Korkowski with nine points. Kozlowski and first-year guard Candice Green really struggled in the game with Kozlowski shooting 1-11 from the floor and Green going 1-5. Oddly enough both played a huge amount of minutes despite their struggles, as Kozlowski played the whole game and Green played 35 minutes. Both have been solid this season but it seems that switching lineups when players are struggling is a prudent course of action. After briefly seeing her playing time increase, junior guard Katie Garman has once again been relegated to minimal action, playing just five minutes in each of Colgate’s last two contests. This is odd because Garman leads the team in three-point percentage this season, an area they clearly need help in. In Coach Bass’s defense however, Gretchen Polinski, the program’s best three-point shooter of all time, has been starting since first-year center Tricia Oakes’ injury in late January. After playing against Lafayette a week ago Oakes has not played in the last two games. When interviewed on Tuesday, Coach Bass declined to comment on her status.

Colgate will suit up again on Saturday at Bucknell.