The game marked the Eagles’ return to Bender Arena after a week of travel where they faced highly-ranked Patriot League opponents Holy Cross and Colgate on the road. After a gritty loss to the Holy Cross Crusaders 59-48, the Eagles defeated the Colgate Raiders 56-54. As they prepared to compete in Bender for the first time in over a week, the Eagles looked to create a winning streak.
With graduate student forward Lauren Stack winning the tip-off, the game began in the Eagles’ favor. Stack immediately went on a 4-0 run, holding the Leopards to a scoreless offense for the first two minutes of play. Senior guard Anna LeMaster and senior forward Emily Johns contributed to the Eagles’ offensive strength, increasing American’s lead to seven points twice in the first quarter.
Sophomore guard Laura Nogues notably returned to the court for the first time since American faced Army on Jan. 14. Despite Nogues’ strong defensive presence, the Leopards continued to find gaps in the Eagles’ rotation. Ultimately, the quarter ended with the Eagles up 15-13.
The second quarter began favorably for Lafayette as they immediately secured their first lead of the game. Johns and senior guard Ivy Bales fought to regain the lead, but the Leopards’ sharp shooting kept them baskets ahead of the Eagles. American trailed Lafayette by 8 points with only 3 minutes remaining in the half, but a steal by LeMaster put the ball back in the Eagles’ court. LeMaster made a free throw which Bales followed with another steal, keeping the ball with American’s offense. As the clock ticked on the Eagles, LeMaster went on a fastbreak and sunk American’s first 3-pointer. At the conclusion of the half, the Eagles trailed 29-25.
As they entered the third quarter, the Eagles worked to regain the lead. Bales immediately landed a 3-pointer, leaving American down by one. LeMaster’s notable rebound game continuously provided scoring opportunities for the Eagles, while Johns and Bales continued to showcase a strong shooting game. Despite American’s fluid offense, the Leopards continued to find holes in the Eagles’ defense. Lafayette’s intense pressure forced 5 turnovers from the Eagles, which ultimately maintained Leopards’ lead. At the buzzer, the Eagles were down 45-38.
Lafayette began the final quarter by sinking a jumper, increasing their lead to nine points. LeMaster and Nogues scored back-to-back field goals, chasing the Leopards’ offense. As Lafayette responded to the Eagles, Stack nailed six points in three minutes. Nonetheless, with 59 seconds of play remaining, Lafayette held the Eagles to a 56-50 lead. American’s persevering offense won two rebounds, maintaining a critical possession with dwindling time. LeMaster banked a 3-pointer with 47 seconds remaining, minimizing Lafayette’s lead to only 3 points. While the Eagles had multiple attempts outside the paint to tie the game, the Leopards scored an additional two free throws, ultimately solidifying their victory. At the buzzer, American fell to Lafayette 60-55.
Bales was the game’s top scorer with a total of 13 points. Lafayette’s Kayla Drummond and Makayla Andrews tied both Stack and LeMaster for second top scorer with 12 points each. Stack and LeMaster achieved double-doubles, as both players also had 10 rebounds.
When asked about struggles experienced in defensive rotation, LeMaster said, “Someone gets beat, you have that rotation, you have that drop, and I think it’s a lot of trust.”
Looking forward to their next match-ups, head coach Tiffany Coll said “I do think our team knows what it takes to win. We’re obviously going to focus on defensive rotations and making sure we’re rebounding again.”
The Eagles are back in Bender Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. to take on Holy Cross in the teams’ second meeting.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Liah Argiropoulos.