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John Kelly

The Colgate women’s basketball team split its final regular-season home stand of the year to move to 8-18 overall and 6-7 in league play.

In their first game of the week, the Raiders took on a feisty Navy squad. This was the first meeting of the season between the two teams, and heading into the game the Raiders and Midshipmen were tied for fourth place in the Patriot League. Navy ruled the day, however, as the visitors raced out to a 14-1 lead and never looked back on their way to a 80-62 victory.

Navy capitalized on its early run to take a 27-point lead in the opening 20 minutes. But Colgate went on a quick 13-4 run to trim the deficit to 18 at 42-24 entering the half.

The second half was no different as Navy capitalized on a number of runs to ensure an 80-62 victory. Colgate could never get closer than 14 points and shot just 40.3 percent overall from the floor, while missing more than half of its free throws. For Navy it was a different story, however, as the Middies shot 54.4 percent from the field and had four players score in double figures.

The Raiders were led by another solid performance from senior Megan Ballard, who scored 19 points and recorded two steals to inch closer to the all-time single season steals record. Colgate was also paced by sophomore Melanie Cargle, who contributed 10 points and four assists in the losing effort.

On Tuesday evening, the Raiders hoped to bounce back in their final home game of the season against second place Holy Cross. On Senior Night, the Raiders upset the Crusaders in a 79-71 win.

The victory was a first for Colgate against Holy Cross since January 13, 2004 and came against a squad that featured three players taller than 6’3″. Appropriately enough, the Raiders were led by the outstanding play of senior guards Megan Curtin and Ballard. Curtin matched a career high with five three-pointers and led the team with 17 points, while Ballard literally took the ball _ – and game – into her hands by recording five steals to go with 17 points. With her five steals, Ballard broke the Colgate single-season steals record with 100 swipes.

The Raiders and Crusaders engaged in a tight first half battle that was marked by a number of runs and lead changes. Holy Cross marched out to a 22-13 lead on the strength of a 12-4 run; however, the Raiders, led by the solid defensive play of Ballard and the strong shooting of sophomore center Caitlin Gillard, went on an 11-2 run of their own to tie the game. Building on this momentum, Colgate headed into the break with a slim 35-33 advantage. In the first half Holy Cross shot a blistering 52 percent, while Colgate shot 44.1 percent from the field and forced Holy Cross into committing 13 turnovers.

In the second half, the teams traded baskets until Gillard knocked down a shot to give the Raiders a 39-38 lead. On the strength of a 16-8 run, Colgate raced out to a 55-47 lead. Colgate pushed its lead to 14 thanks to the stellar outside shooting of Curtin, who connected on a number of three-pointers. Holy Cross crawled back to tighten the gap to four with under three minutes remaining; however, the Raiders nailed six crucial free throws to seal the victory.

Besides the important guard play, the Raiders were led by the stellar post play of Gillard and first-year Gretchen Polinski. Gillard tied her previous career-high of 16 points, while Polinski notched another double-double with a stellar 11-point, 13-rebound performance.

“It was a great win for the program,” Cargle said. “The underclassmen really wanted our seniors to go out on top, especially on our home court.And to have that win be against Holy Cross made it that much sweeter.”

With a re-energized spirit Colgate hopes to avenge its loss to Navy as the team travels to Annapolis to take on the Midshipmen tomorrow in the final game of the regular season.