Women’s B-ball Romped By PL Opponents

Over winter break, a slow start to the season turned into a full-blown slump for the Raider women’s basketball team. After entering the year with high hopes, the defending Patriot League champions have struggled to a disappointing 4-12 overall record, including a 1-7 stretch over the winter recess. The Raiders faced an opportunity for a fresh beginning with the recent start of league play, but the team is thus far 0-3 against Patriot League foes. Eager to finish their non-league schedule on a high note, the team kicked off winter break early, as the players finished up final exams ahead of schedule and left their fellow students behind for the first of two road trips to Florida. On December 18 and 19, the Raiders participated in the University of Central Florida’s Christmas Classic, where they lost first to the host team, 83-69, and then again in the consolation game, 86-68, to Marshall. After some time off for Christmas, the Raiders returned to New York for a date at Niagara. Colgate’s defense failed to make the trip, however, as the Raiders lost 99-76, allowing their highest opposition point total of the season. The Raiders actually outscored the Purple Eagles in the second half, but could not overcome a nightmarish first half in which they allowed 59 points.The Raiders’ losing streak increased to four with a 64-43 loss at Florida State, before Colgate finally found the win column January 3 against Quinnipiac, in the team’s first home game in nearly a month. After falling behind by as many as 13 points in the first half and trailing for much of the second as well, the Raiders used 16 second-half points from senior guard Allison Lipinski to come from behind and grab the 63-61 victory. That win capped off Colgate’s non-league schedule, giving the team some positive momentum heading into the 14-game Patriot League regular season.However, the Raiders’ struggles and frustrations continued in the early going of Patriot League play. Colgate lost its league opener in rather decisive fashion, 68-53 at Army, but followed that up with a pair of tight, heartbreaking losses at Bucknell and against Holy Cross that came down to the games’ final possessions. At Bucknell, Colgate was led by a solid 25-point effort from senior co-captain Emily Braseth. The team mounted a furious rally in the final minutes to get into the game and knot the score at 65. However, the Bison had the final possession of the game and a questionable foul call gave them the chance to sink two free throws with just two seconds remaining to escape with a 67-65 win.The heartbreak continued in Colgate’s most recent game, against Holy Cross Saturday at Cotterell Court. The Crusaders, preseason favorites to win the league title, entered the game undefeated in the Patriot League, but the Raiders matched them bucket-for-bucket in the first half and clung to a slim one-point lead at intermission. The game remained close throughout the second half and came down to Colgate’s last possession. The Raiders had a chance to attempt a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds, but instead sank a two-pointer and simply ran out of time, losing 66-65.Despite the losses, there have been some bright spots for Colgate this season, and there is still enough time to turn the tide around with a strong finish to the Patriot League’s regular season and heading into the postseason tournament. Offensively, the Raiders have been led by Lipinski and Braseth, who average a team-best 15.1 and 14.7 points per game, respectively. Braseth, one of the league’s preseason co-Players of the Year, is also leading the Raiders in rebounding, averaging 7.1 per contest. Lipinski, who has successfully returned from plantar fascitis and a year away from the team, leads Colgate in minutes and has netted a team-best 43 three-pointers through 16 games.Another bright spot has been the solid play of junior guard Megan Ballard. Ballard was a key contributor on last year’s championship team, but has increased her role substantially this year, including solid leadership since taking over more of the point guard duties. She turned in an outstanding all-around performance in the recent loss at Bucknell, playing all 40 minutes and contributing seven points, seven steals, six rebounds and five assists. On the front line, Colgate has struggled to replace the loss of injured senior forward Milaina Lagzdins, the team’s top rebounder and most tenacious inside force over the last three seasons. Head coach Kristin Hughes has tried numerous substitutes for Lagzdins throughout the season, and now appears to have settled on 6’1″ junior Devon Warwick. After playing sparingly in the early going, Warwick has averaged 23.3 minutes per game though the Raiders’ first three Patriot League contests, contributing five points, five rebounds and two blocked shots per game.With 11 regular season games remaining, Colgate looks to find the win column this weekend on the road, with games tonight at Lehigh and Sunday afternoon at Lafayette. Lehigh enters tonight’s 7 p.m. contest undefeated in the Patriot League, with a solid 11-5 record overall, while Lafayette has struggled to an 0-3 start.