When you lead your conference with a resounding 42 rebounds per contest, chances are you will be competitive in each game you play. Sometimes, you may find yourself in complete domination mode, as the Lafayette women’s basketball team (12-10 overall, 6-5 Patriot League) did on Wednesday night against Bucknell (12-9, 7-4 PL).
The final was 87-64 at the Kirby Sports Center and it marked the fourth straight victory for head coach Dianne Nolan and her Leopards. From the very first jump ball of the game, the Leopards’ advantage on the boards was clear. 6’7” senior center Danielle Fiacco and 6’3” junior forward Emily Homan overpowered a Bucknell front line that featured one 6’1” player.
Twenty-four of the Leopards’ 39 first half points were scored in the paint. Sophomore guard Jamie O’Hare provided immediate offense off the bench, scoring seven points and adding three assists.
Their first meeting ended in a 75-72 loss for Lafayette but this time around, the Leopards finished the first half with a fiery 11-0 run to blow it open.
Forward Kelly Loughney was the catalyst in the second half – the senior scored nine straight points in a five-minute span. Later on, Loughney struck again, this time in combination with O’Hare. The duo hit back-to-back 3-pointers and expanded the Lafayette lead to 22 with 6:50 remaining.
Eventually. Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell decided it was time to pull his starters and surrender.
Loughney and senior captain Madeline Fahan both finished with 16 points. Homan had five blocks to tie her career best.
Nolan is pleased with the recent shooting success after an inconsistent first half to the season.
“We were struggling to hit from behind the arc,” Nolan said. “Everyone was doubling and tripling our post, and everything was saggy. We couldn’t throw it into the ocean from the outside. Now one kid makes it and another kid makes it, and now we’re 50% from three.”
“That never happens to us. Now we got one on one inside and it’s no match.”
One week from today, Lafayette won arguably its biggest game this season, defeating Navy 70-69 on a Homan game-winning layup with six seconds left. Before the Leopards handed them the loss, Navy (18-4, 10-1 PL) was undefeated in Patriot League play.
“It was huge,” Nolan said.
Loughney again played a crucial role, scoring a team-high 16 points.
“Kelly has been key in our last two wins,” Nolan said.
Nolan touched on the recent balance achieved on offense.
“Before the Navy game, we were hitting shots, but not in our offensive set,” Nolan said. “We were just scoring. Now we are more balanced, getting points from many people. Everyone is owning their own shot.”
Players are becoming more comfortable with each other on the court.
“We now know where to get the ball,” Nolan said. “Our turnovers are down from the first part of the year and it goes back to the fact of knowing where your teammates are.”
Next up is Boston University (8-16, 3-8 PL) tomorrow at the Kirby Sports Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Lafayette will look to continue its late season winning streak.
“I think we’re enjoying the game so much more and having fun that’s helping us play better,” O’Hare said. “We know we still have a long way to go but we’re ready to face every challenge, most importantly taking one game at a time.”