Having secured the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, the AU women’s basketball team still had something important to play for when they traveled to Lafayette College: a perfect Patriot League record.
It wasn’t easy, but the Eagles earned a 58-54 comeback victory against the Leopards Feb. 25 to become the first team in PL history to go 14-0 in conference play.
“It was the kind of hard-fought battle today that you expect when you play at Lafayette,” AU Head Coach Matt Corkery told AU Athletics. “It was a great way to wrap up the regular season.”
Alexis Dobbs finished with a game-high 20 points and has totaled 51 points over the team’s last three games.
Lisa Strack and Jen Dumiak both recorded double-doubles for the Eagles (22-6, 14-0 PL). Strack finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Dumiak came off the bench to score 13 and bring down a career-best 10 rebounds.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Dobbs said of the team’s 14-0 record. “The people before us set the tone, and we finished it.”
AU spent most of the first half trailing, as Lafayette (8-21, 2-12 PL) opened up a 14-6 lead seven minutes into the game behind the shooting of Sarah McGorry.
Dobbs and Dumiak evened up the score for AU, combining for the team’s next eight points. Dumiak nailed a jumper and then assisted on two straight Dobbs 3-pointers to tie the game at 14 apiece.
AU’s only lead of the first half came at 26-25 with two minutes until halftime, and Lafayette led 27-26 at halftime.
“We knew we were still in the game,” Dobbs said of being down at the half. “We needed more intensity. We got outworked, and we needed to work hard.”
It didn’t look good for the Eagles midway through the second half, with the Leopards extending their lead to 42-35 following McGorry’s jumper.
McGorry helped lead the way for Lafayette with 12 points on 5-6 shooting from the field, while teammate Emily Homan recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
But the Eagles clawed back, and Ti’Asia McGeorge’s 3-pointer with 6:04 to play made it 48-47 Lafayette.
Trailing 54-50 with less than four minutes left, the Eagles looked to their senior leader to step up.
Strack connected for three straight baskets, the last of which gave AU a 56-54 lead with 1:26 to play.
After a steal by Lafayette’s Melissa Downey with nine seconds left, the Leopards had a chance to tie or win the game. Downey took a 3-pointer from the left wing, but the shot missed the mark.
Dobbs controlled the rebound and hit both free throws to seal the game and defeat the upset-minded Leopards.
The Eagles will again face the Leopards in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament March 1 at Bender Arena. With a win, AU will tie the program record for most victories in a season.