Photos by Hana Isihara ‘17
Lafayette women’s basketball is 4-0 for the first time since 2006.
Following its motto of “All In”, the Leopards have stood up to every challenge thus far and last weekend presented the biggest challenge to date. Lafayette traveled to Atlantic Coastal Conference member Pittsburgh and defeated the Panthers 48-45.
It was the second straight year Lafayette has defeated Pitt, making a statement for all mid-majors.
“Mid-majors have seen an increase in quality with the kinds of student-athletes they’re attracting,” Nolan said, “This game was huge. On paper we aren’t supposed to compete. The players stayed focus and are ready to take on any challenge ahead of them.”
Once again, the team played its best basketball down the stretch, holding off a late Pitt comeback. Danielle Fiacco ‘14 blocked a shot with under ten seconds left to secure a 48-45 win in the Petersen Events Center.
Admittedly, Nolan hinted that with the success this team has had against quality opponents, the team is ahead of schedule.
“When you have a veteran team that’s used to playing with each other, you hope that accelerates the process,” Nolan said. “We’ve had good leadership with our senior captains.”
One of those senior captains is Maddie Fahan. Fahan scored five points and grabbed four rebounds in the win and most notably hit a clutch three-pointer to put the Leopards up by seven midway through the second half.
If anything, this win confirmed the confidence this team has in itself.
“We have been underestimated by many, but our start to this season should be reason enough for people to watch out for us,” Fahan said, “We have all of the necessary pieces this year to do some great things.”
Much of the team’s success this season has been because of the dominating presence up front from Fiacco and forward Emily Homan ‘15. But the play in the backcourt has been just as strong this year, namely sophomore guard Jaime O’Hare.
“She’s done a great job for us of getting to the rim offensively,” Nolan said, “Defensively is where she has grown the most. She’s done a good job keeping her opponent in front of her and not fouling.”
O’Hare is averaging just under 13 points per game and shooting an impressive 81 percent from the line. Against Pitt, it was surprisingly her rebounding that made the greatest impact in the upset victory. At just 5 foot 6, O’Hare grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the team.
The challenges for Lafayette will continue as it travels to Villanova on Sunday to take on a Big East power that has given Lafayette trouble in the past.
“Villanova is a Big East opponent that has typically had our number,” Nolan stated, “They are a little bit of a mismatch for us because we pound it in to our bigs and they play more of a five spread offense.”
Although early in the year, Lafayette has taken on the identity as a group that will back down to no one.
“We have played some very good teams so far and our win over Pitt on Sunday, an ACC team, just confirmed to us how good we can be,” Fahan said.