After an 0-3 start, it looked like it would be another long season for Colgate women’s basketball. However, in their last five games the team has shown a good deal of improvement, especially on the offensive end, and has been competitive in every game and even pulled out wins in two of the five games.
Two Saturdays ago Colgate suited up against St. Francis of Brooklyn for a home date with a team that had beaten them by 23 the year before. After a 9-2 run by St. Francis to start the game, Colgate went on an 11-0 run to take a 13-9 lead. It was a back and forth game for the rest of the half, but first-year center Patricia Oaks drove to the basket just before halftime and laid the ball in to give the Raiders a 29-28 advantage.
St. Francis came out of the half strong and held a 43-38 advantage with 12:27 left in the contest, but it was at this point that the Raider offense came alive. First-year guard Candice Green nailed a three to cut the lead to two and then Oakes laid it in to knot the score up. Then two foul shots from Green gave Colgate a 45-43 advantage. Colgate built their lead to 49-45 lead with 6:06 remaining. They could not hold it though and with 1:52 left on the clock Kara Ayers hit a big two point jumper to stake the Terriers to a 53-52 advantage. On the ensuing Raider possession sophomore forward Georgia Gier took the ball to the hoop, missed the layup, but got her own rebound. Colgate regrouped and Candice Green drove to the basket and laid it in to give the Raiders a 54-53 advantage. Kara Ayers was fouled by first-year guard Kelly Korkowski on the Terriers next possession and went to the line to shoot a pair. Thanks no doubt to the noise generated by Paul Kasabian and Kelly Korkowski’s two roommates, Ayers missed her first shot. She nailed the second however and knotted the score at 54. Colgate came back down the floor and with the clock running down Korkowski took a jumper from just to the right of the key and the ball bounced around the rim a few times before it fell in to give the Raiders a 56-54 lead with 17 seconds remaining. It was now up to Colgate’s defense to deliver. They were up to the challenge and forced a missed jumper by Ayers. The shot was rebounded by Kendra Williams for St. Francis, but she was unable to get a shot off as the last few tenths of a second ticked off. Colgate was elated with the 56-54 victory as it marked their first win of the season, ended a 28 game losing streak, and was their first win at home since February 10, 2007.
Patricia Oakes scored 16 points, shooting 6-11 from the field while pulling down six boards. Sami Kozlowski had 14 points, and Georgia Gier was a beast on the glass as she pulled down 12 rebounds.
Colgate next hit the road to play Presbyterian. Early on both teams struggled, but Colgate had a 9-7 lead with 10:56 left in the half after an Oakes layup. The Blue Hose went on a 15-2 run after that though and had a 22-11 lead with 4:47 left in the half. Colgate closed out the half nicely though. Trailing 26-18 with 2:22 left senior guard Gretchen Polinski hit back to back threes to cut the lead to 26-24, before Katlin Moore hit a two right before the half to give Presbyterian a 28-24 advantage.
The Blue Hose buried the Raiders to start the second half and opened on a 14-6 run to take a 42-30 lead with 12:06 left. They never looked back and coasted to a 62-50 win. Sami Kozlowski led the way for Colgate with 13. Gretchen Polinski had her best game of the season with 10 points on 4-5 shooting.
Colgate returned home for their next game against the Albany Great Danes. Colgate lost to Albany last year by 24 and it didn’t look good early on this year either. Albany was up 10 at halftime and they were still up double digits at 43-31 with just 10:13 reaming. But then Colgate’s defense clamped down and some clutch players stepped up. With the lead down to 43-35, Candice Green nailed a three and on the next possession junior guard Katie Garman hit a three of her own to narrow the deficit to 43-41. Patricia Oakes knotted the game up with two free throws when she was fouled after pulling down a clutch offensive rebound. Defense was the key during the comeback as Colgate held Albany scoreless for 8 minutes while they made their run.
“We know that our coach is a big proponent of the idea that defense is what wins games, and she comments all the time about how our defense is going to develop our offense,” junior tri-captain Katie Garman said concerning the team’ defensive effort. “So that’s something that we really try and focus on and that’s where we put a lot of our emphasis. It’s nice to see that paying off.”
It looked like the comeback might be all for nothing when Albany retook the lead on an old fashioned three point play from Tabitha Makopondo that put the Great Danes up 46-43. But Colgate didn’t get discouraged, and they were able to retake the lead after Oakes made a one handed shot from just right of the lane, followed by a ten foot base line jumper that was nailed by Candice Green. Protecting a 47-46 lead, Colgate defended the next possession well and forced a missed jumper from Tiffanie Johnson. Albany fouled Georgia Gier who hit one of two shots to give Colgate a 48-46 advantage. Albany’s attempt to tie the game on the ensuing possession failed as Janea Aiken missed an uncontested layup as time expired, giving the Raiders their second win of the year. Oakes once again led the way with 16 points, followed by Green with 10. Gier had another strong day on the boards with 13 rebounds.
Colgate’s next matchup was another home contest, this time against Detroit Mercy. Colgate started out well after two straight threes from Sami Kozlowski gave them a 6-3 advantage. Detroit Mercy responded with an 8-0 run to take an 11-6 lead. Colgate hung around the whole game, but they were never able to get over the hump and take a lead and fell by a 61-51 score. Kozlowski led all Raiders with 15 points, while Georgia Grier had a monster day with 14 points and 11 boards.
Next Colgate hit the road to battle Wagner on Staten Island. Wagner led the entire first half, but Colgate nabbed their first lead of the game with 13:55 left in the second half, when Candice Green nailed a layup to put Colgate up 36-34. Colgate scored the next six, with Green adding four and Georgia Gier adding two points to put Colgate up 42-34. Wagner battled back and retook the lead when Andrea Reed hit two free throws with 3:40 left in the game, giving the Seahawks a 48-46 lead. Colgate came right back to cut the lead to 48-47 when Katie Garman hit one of two free throws. Reed upped the lead to 50-47 with a layup on Wagner’s next possession. Then neither team scored until the one minute mark when Garman nailed a two point jumper and was fouled. She hit the free throw and tied the game at 50. After a missed three by Wagner, Colgate had a chance to win the game, but Georgia Gier turned it over. Wagner missed another three at the end of regulation to send the game to O.T.
Colgate started out overtime with Garman hitting one of two foul shots to give her team a 51-50 lead. Then, Wagner retook the lead with a three from Reed. Colgate knotted the score up a little later with a two from Gier in the paint. John’a Poole hit a pair of free throws to put Wagner up 55-53, but Oakes answered right back to knot the score up. With 1:39 left in overtime Garman hit one of two free throws to give Colgate a 56-55 lead. With 27 seconds left on the clock Patricia Oakes blocked a shot by Poole, but Nyoto Patterson got the offensive rebound and was fouled by Garman. Patterson hit one of two from the stripe and tied the contest at 56. With 10 seconds left Oakes missed a jumper. Reed pulled down the board and tossed the ball up to Poole on the fast break. Poole pulled up for a jumper 10 feet from the basket and with 1.2 seconds she banked it in. Colgate was unable to get a shot off if the last second and fell by a 58-56 margin.
Colgate has certainly been playing much better as of late, though they still have a lot of room to improve. That success can be attributed to the fact that the team is beginning to gel.
“I think this whole year is going to be, and has been, about us learning each other as players,” Katie Garman said. “We have a lot of youth on the team. We’re also learning how to read each other and learning how to play together. I think it’s going to be a process and I think we’re moving in the right direction,”
Colgate hopes to continue their improved play on Friday at 6:00 at Cotterell Court against New Hampshire.