Women’s Basketball Opens Conference Play

The hiatus between first and second semester was anything but leisurely for the women’s basketball team this year. The team played a tough schedule of eight games (six of which were on the road) against a number of solid teams. Unfortunately, the women were not able to continue their streak of victories into the break, and they lost all eight games. Consequently, after the break, the team entered Patriot League play with an overall record of 5-11.

In a fortunate turn of events, the women defeated Lafayette on the road 71-63 and kicked off league play with a bang. After Lafayette jumped out to a quick 6-3 lead, Colgate responded by going on a fourteen to four run. With the game at an eleven-point margin in Colgate’s favor, Lafayette found some success in playing an organized, half-court game; and by halftime, the lead was cut to four with a score of 29-25.

At the start of the second half, the women were able to increase their lead by ten points due to neat passing and a five-point contribution by senior guard Katie Garman. With eleven minutes to go in the second half, Lafayette was able to come within five points but the Raider’s absolutely dominated the Leopards for the rest of the game.

Good defense and a combined offensive effort by the team were able to secure the victory for Colgate. The women played tenacious defense, stealing the ball five times and forcing seven Lafayette turnovers. Defense inevitably translated to more offensive possessions for the team, and the Raiders were able to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes. Sophomore center Tricia Oakes, first-year guard Jhazmine Lynch, junior guard Sami Kozlowski and junior guard Taylor Wejnert all tallied double figures for the Raiders.

Possibly even more impressive was the fact that the women shot 70.9% from the charity stripe. Executing fundamentals like free throw shooting is a major contributor at any level of the game.

“At the Division I level, it is the execution of fundamentals for 40 minutes that contribute to wins. I was very pleased with our foul shooting that game,” Head Coach Pam Bass said. “It allowed us to pull out the victory on the road, which is never easy to do in Patriot League play.”

After this impressive win over Lafayette, the team lost to a very good American team 80-58. Although the final score does not show it, the women stayed with American for the whole first half.  The women again had to overcome an early deficit, but they were sparked by sophomore guard Candice Green’s quick five-point effort but American still held the lead at 16-15. American went on one more big run before the half, bolstered by seven points by junior forward Michelle Kirk, their leading scorer, to make the score 33-21.

Defense was has probably been the team’s greatest strength this season, and the women stepped up their defense forcing multiple American turnovers. The Lady Raiders capitalized on these mistakes by the Eagles and cut the halftime deficit to five points at 37-32.

Garman kicked off the second half with a beautiful long range three and Colgate pulled to within two points of American. Unfortunately, Garman’s shot would also prove to be the pinnacle of second half play, as Michelle Kirk dominated the Raider defense. Kirk had a total of 26 points on the night and two of her teammates were also able to post point totals in the double digits. Shooting only 44% in comparison to American’s 50%, offense may have been what sunk the team.

“Offensively, we need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball,” Bass said. “On the upside, we got some good looks from the field in the second half, we simply didn’t hit the shots.”

As an aside, a name to watch in the future of the team is Jhazmine Lynch. Lynch had 14 points in the Lafayette game and 10 points in the American game. As a first-year starter, Lynch has already made an immediate impact at the point guard position and seems to be developing more knowledge of how to play college basketball with each game. Coach Bass has described her as a triple threat, able to “get to the glass, pull-up for a shot or dish to a teammate.” If she continues to progress constantly through her rookie season, Lynch is sure to have a successful four years at Colgate.