Women's basketball takes down Colgate in final seconds of an energized home matchup
Textbook buzzer-beater sends Colgate packing, giving the Eagles the confidence they need heading into the rest of the season
The American University Eagles (4-15) beat the Colgate Raiders (10-9) 59-57 after Ivy Bales sank a winning shot with just 2.4 seconds left in the game. The Eagles showed up in Bender this Saturday with a clear motive to end their five-game losing streak, and they delivered on every account.
The coaches, spectators and entire roster's desire to win energized the arena from warmups to the last moment of the final buzzer. The Eagles started trading points with the Raiders back and forth, with various players contributing to the board.
Junior guard Kayla Henning, the Eagles’ top scorer of the game, also played a strong defensive game as she boxed out Colgate and worked to consistently apply pressure.
The Eagles held the 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was lower scoring compared to the first; American got 10 more points, and Colgate just six more, ultimately leaving the halftime score at 27-16, with the Eagles still ahead. The lack of points in the second quarter left both teams motivated to come back and dominate scoring.
American came out composed and hopeful that they could get a more robust lead and establish another win for their Patriot League record. However, Colgate had the same goals, and the two teams put each other to the test. Leads transitioned 10 times between the Eagles and the Raiders, keeping everyone on edge at Saturday's game.
"Running sets of players in and out helps us keep our poise and energy throughout the game," head coach Tiffany Coll said.
This strategy allowed starters to rest as first-year students rose to the challenge and held their own against the Raiders, such as freshman forward Molly Lavin who had nine rebounds, one block and one steal.
A timeout was called, and the ball was in American’s hands. Coll and the team discussed their plan for the looming seconds in the game.
"We had it set for Ivy to take the shot. When everyone got onto the court, things changed a bit. But the outcome was the same," Coll said.
This heavy focus on last-minute clock shots was something the team has been working on since they fell to Lehigh University 59-57 in their most recent game. "We were much more prepared this time — we have a plan for last second plays," Coll said.
However, with just a minute left on the clock and the score tied at 57-57, it could have gone either way.
As the team reentered the court, Bales noticed the intense guarding she was getting from Colgate and decided the original plan wouldn't work anymore. She took a chance with her shot as the time approached zero.
It was clear to every spectator in Bender that this win would come down to the final seconds; no one dared take their eyes off the court.
As everyone in the arena watched the basket, the ball passed through the net. This was a perfect play that gave the Eagles a win that would give them confidence going into the rest of their Patriot League play. The final point put AU in the lead, 59-57.
The Eagles ultimately led their opponent in rebounds by 35 to 34. However, this is still something junior guard Ivy Bales wants to work on going forward in their season.
"I know we technically won the rebound game today, but I think as a team we can do better with it," Bales said, "This will be something we'll work to improve going forward."
The Eagles will travel to New York for their 6 p.m. EST matchup against Army this Wednesday, Jan. 25.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Nina Heller. Copy editing by Isabelle Kravis, Sophia Rocha and Natasha LaChac.