The women’s basketball team was able to finish off strong last week, taking down Loyola 72-45 after a tough loss to Army by only two points. The hard-fought win improved the Raiders’ overall record to 2-6 in the Patriot League and 3-16 overall. As they head into the last part of their season, mental skill and fitness will become key in remaining competitive and dominant against opposing teams.
The Raiders started their week against Army at home on Wednesday the 21st. Both teams battled until the very last seconds of the game, but with a difficult jump shot made with only four seconds remaining by Kelsey Minato, Army claimed the win 64-62. This marked the second straight two-point loss that the team suffered in the closing seconds of a game.
The game against Army couldn’t have been closer. Each team collected 29 rebounds, turnovers were a tossup with Army committing 12 and Colgate 11 and steals were even at four apiece. Senior Carole Harris ended the night with 20 points, scoring her second 20-point game of the season as well as her best since scoring 24 in the December 10 win over Binghamton. Following Harris was junior Paige Kriftcher with 12 points and senior Missy Repoli with 11.
In the final minutes of the game, Colgate trailed by seven points after Army put together a 12-2 run in a short amount of time. The Raiders hit four of their last five field goal attempts and rallied back, but still weren’t able to claim the win. Senior captain Mariah Jones stressed the importance of capitalizing on the beginning plays of the game.
“In close games, your adrenaline is really pumping which gives you an extra burst of energy, but you also have to focus more on little details which is even more important toward the end of a close game,” she said.
According to Coach Nicci Hays Fort, the close outcome was the result of a very even matchup between the two Patriot League teams. “When you match up well with teams, I think sometimes it is a struggle for a team to pull ahead and both teams were defending really well and trying to take each other out of our offensive sets,” she said. Hays Fort also noted that over the past few years other close games against Army have resulted in successes.
The following game in Baltimore proved to fully showcase exactly how the women’s team could take care of business. Loyola scored the game’s opening basket with a 3-pointer, but failed to lead for the remainder of the game as Colgate quickly pulled ahead. Their defensive game held strong as the Raiders finished the first half leading 35-25.
The team set a pair of season bests by shooting 46.2 percent from the field, as well as creating a 43-28 rebounding advantage. This was also the program’s most decisive win against a Patriot League opponent since winning 78-50 at Army in 1995. Hays Fort felt that a strong game plan coupled with tremendous rebounding and defense led to the successful outcome.
“The key was the first five minutes of the second half, that’s kind of been like a thorn in our side and instead of faltering and letting the team just hang with us, we went out and dominated against Loyola,” she said. “That’s where we really increased our lead for a while and they just couldn’t catch us after that.”
Up next, the Raiders are headed to Easton, PA to face off against Lafayette on Wednesday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m. This will mark the final Patriot League matchup for Colgate. Jones is hopeful that the team can continue to make the small improvements necessary to win. “The Loyola game was a statement that if we put together all of the little things we can really beat some teams handedly. And since we have had so many heartbreaking losses, we know what it feels like and we know we don’t want to feel like
that again,” said Jones.