Women’s Hoops Off Target Against Army

Women's Hoops Off Target Against Army

Alex Friedman

To say that this has been an up-and-down season for the Colgate women’s basketball team would be an understatement. With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Raiders hope to turn their most recent losing streak around in time to heat up once more for a run at next weekend’s Patriot League Tournament.Colgate opened the season in the league cellar with four straight losses, but then reeled off a run of five consecutive victories in late January and early February to catapult above the .500 mark and into third place. Since that time, however, Colgate has experienced a steady descent. With its most recent loss, an agonizing 71-69 defeat Wednesday night to Army, Colgate has strung together another four-game losing streak and has fallen to 5-8 in league play. Pending the result of tomorrow afternoon’s contest with Bucknell, the Raiders could finish as high as fifth or as low as seventh in the eight-team league.After three consecutive road losses, the Raiders hoped that a return to Cotterell Court for the Army game Wednesday night would help reverse the team’s fortunes. Despite a rocky year, Colgate has generally played well on its home court – four of the Raiders’ five Patriot League victories have come at home.However, the Raiders opened the night with one of their sloppiest halves of the season. Defensively, Colgate allowed Army to rack up 40 first-half points, and on the offensive end the Raiders appeared careless and out of sync. On the few occasions when the Raiders did successfully execute their offense and generate good scoring opportunities, they often failed to convert. Colgate missed a number of easy lay-ups in the first half and shot just 29.4 percent from the field, allowing Army to build up a 16-point lead.Colgate’s leading scorer, senior co-captain Emily Braseth, was one of the main culprits in the first half, missing a number of close shots and finishing the half with just two points. However, Braseth was also the impetus behind Colgate’s remarkable second-half turnaround.Desperate to shift the pressure onto the opposition, the Raiders opened the second half in a full court press. Braseth, an athletic forward who often gets assigned to guard the opposing point guard in crucial situations, led the front line of the press with quick feet and active hands, as Colgate soon found itself generating steals and turnovers. Many of those turnovers turned into quick fast break buckets for the Raiders, who suddenly regained their ability to convert easy shots.Braseth used five steals and 16 second-half points to single-handedly drag her team back into the game. Colgate soon reduced the deficit to single digits, and continued to whittle away at Army’s lead as the final minutes ticked away. The comeback culminated with a beautiful driving layup by senior guard Chigozie Ozor that swished home with just 25 seconds left on the clock, tying up the game for the first time in the second half.Army maintained its composure, however, and regained its lead on a lay-up by Shavonne Holden with seven seconds left. Colgate called time out to set up a final play designed for senior sharpshooter Allison Lipinski, but the Black Knights had the Raiders well scouted and saw the play coming. The scripted plan deteriorated into chaos and Braseth was forced into missing an off-balance shot at the buzzer.Braseth finished with eight rebounds to go with her 18 points and five steals, while fellow senior co-captain Leandra Fuller added 18 points, nine boards and three blocks. No other Raider finished in double figures.Tomorrow at 2 p.m., Colgate honors its five seniors in its home finale, and also looks to end the regular season on a positive note and gain improved seeding heading into the postseason tournament. The top two seeds, Holy Cross and Lehigh, will host the first two rounds of the tournament. The Raiders hope to avoid finishing in the bottom two of the league, which would set up a first-round match-up in front of a partisan crowd. By defeating Bucknell, Colgate can assure itself a fifth or sixth seed and a neutral court date with either Army or American.