In one of the best games of the season, the women’s basketball team triumphed over the Lafayette Leopards in a 60-57 overtime win to become the Patriot League’s regular season champion for the first time.
Like a calm before the storm, the game began in the doldrums as neither team scored until the 16th minute. But in a flash, the game erupted with all the force of a powerful hurricane. Senior forward Maggie Smith-Davidson scored the first two points of the game, and from that point, the Eagles went on an 11-2 run.
However, Lafayette did not dismay, as they held the Eagles scoreless for the final six minutes of the first half. Even though the Eagles led 22-20 heading into the locker room, Lafayette had the momentum.
Lafayette’s momentum continued as they overtook the Eagles’ lead within the first 40 seconds of the half. The Leopards led for the first time all game, but they did not lead for long. With a three-pointer from junior guard Talicia Jackson, the game was tied at 25. A steal and lay-up from junior guard Pam Stanfield brought the lead back in favor of the Eagles.
The Eagles’ lead did not last for long. The game was tied 12 different times in the second half alone. If freshman forward Liz Leer made a lay-up, Lafayette’s Vanessa Van De Venter quickly retaliated with a jump shot to tie the game back up. Like a close game of tug-of-war, neither team could pull the other over the threshold.
With 50 seconds left in regulation, the game was at a 50-point stalemate. Both teams had their chances, but a Lafayette turnover and two missed free throws by the Eagles forced the game into overtime.
The game continued to be topsy-turvy into the overtime period. It was tied at 57 with a little less than two minutes left to play.
In the end, it all came down to free throws. The Eagles shot 4-4 from the charity stripe in the last 30 seconds of the game. Jackson’s free throws with 11 seconds to play put the Eagles up for good.
Senior forward Stephanie N’Garsanet had one of her best games of the season, as she led all scorers with 17. Jackson added to the Eagles’ effort with 14, and Leer helped defensively with nine rebounds and two blocks. Van De Venter helped the Leopards’ cause with 15 points and nine rebounds of her own.
The win was the Eagles’ 10th in a row, bringing their record to 17-12 and 11-3 in the Patriot League as they head into Patriot League Tournament action.
The Eagles look to make the NCAA tournament for the first time as they bring their winning streak into the Patriot League tournament. They play 1-28 Colgate at West Point Saturday.