Women’s Hoops Keeps Rolling

With a pair of decisive, double-digit wins over Lehigh and Lafayette last weekend, the Colgate women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to five games. After opening the season a disappointing 0-4 in Patriot League play, the resurgent Raiders (5-4 league, 9-13 overall) now sit in a tie for third place in the eight-team league.

With five games remaining in the regular season, Colgate stands just two games out of second place. The prospect of hosting the first two rounds of the league’s postseason tournament – unimaginable a couple of weeks ago when the Raiders occupied the Patriot League cellar – now looms as a realistic possibility.

The Raiders opened the weekend with an 83-72 upset victory over second-place Lehigh. The game was knotted early before the Raiders used a 21-6 run over the final 6:59 of the first half to build a substantial 46-32 lead at the intermission. That run was a balanced team effort, sparked by three-pointers from three different Raiders and red hot 9-of-15 shooting as a team.

The second half, like the opening of the first half, was hard-fought and relatively even. Colgate’s one big run to close the first period proved to be the only major run either team made all game, as the Raiders’ halftime margin stood up over the game’s final 20 minutes.

In addition to their timely shooting, the Raiders won by virtue of their ability to keep Lehigh’s league-leading scoring tandem of Jessica DePalo (6-of-16 shooting) and Sara Ellis (4-of-12) in check.

On the offensive end, Colgate was led by senior co-captain Emily Braseth, who poured home 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting. The forward, who has led Colgate in scoring 12 times this season, also pulled down seven rebounds and tallied three assists and three steals in a game-high 38 minutes.

Junior point guard Megan Ballard also turned in her usual all-around effort, with 19 points, six assists,six rebounds and four steals. Senior guard Allison Lipinski added 11 points, while guards sophomore Molly Patterson and junior Meghan Curtin contributed eight apiece off the bench. Senior co-captain Leandra Fuller notched seven points and pulled down a team-best eight boards.

Colgate carried the momentum from Friday’s big win into Sunday’s date with Lafayette, and appeared to be running away with the game early on. Ballard scored a layup right off of the opening tip-off, and Lipinski swished home a three on the Raiders’ next possession.

After a Lafayette turnover, Lipinski hit a lay-up plus a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play, before hitting another shot from beyond the arc to push the Raiders’ edge to 11-0. In all, Lipinski scored 12 points before the game’s first media time-out.After that brief break, however, Lafayette regrouped with a 12-2 run of its own to trim Colgate’s lead to just one, 16-15.

Lafayette’s resiliency proved short-lived. The Raiders finished the half strongly to push the lead back to double digits, and tightened their confusing zone defense in a dominant second half. Colgate led by as many as 21 before Lafayette closed the game with a 10-2 run in garbage time to make the final score a respectable 79-66 in favor of the Raiders.

Braseth scored 19 points for Colgate and added six rebounds and four assists. Patterson had yet another strong game coming off the bench, scoring 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting and dishing out five assists in 20 minutes of action.

After dominating the first half with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, Lipinski finished with a career-high 28 points. Her seven three-pointers were one off her own school record, set during her first season with the Raiders. She also went 5-of-5 from the free throw line, extending her school-record foul shooting streak to 30 consecutive makes.

For her efforts, Lipinski was named the Patriot League’s Player of the Week. She also brought her career point total up to 999; with her next basket this weekend, Lipinski will become the 17th member of Colgate’s 1,000-point club.

That milestone basket is almost certain to come tonight, when Colgate takes on Navy (3-6, 7-15) at Alumni Hall. After the game, Colgate travels to American (4-5, 9-13) for a 2 p.m.tip-off on Sunday. The Raiders defeated both Navy and American on the recent winning homestand, and will be looking to complete a pair of season-sweeps. This weekend is crucial, because it will help define te Phi Delt is 2-whether Colgate is merely a good team that is capable of defending its home court or an elite Patriot League contender that can knock off its foes on the road, as well.

Thus far, the Raiders are 6-3 in the friendly confines of Cotterell Court, compared to just 3-10 away from home. This will be Colgate’s first road test since the team has gotten its season onto the winning track.