Women’s basketball drops close game to Navy after cancellation

Senior guard Drew Freeland was held scoreless for the first time this season against Navy. (Photo courtesy of athletic communications)

After a game cancellation that set them back roughly a week, the women’s basketball team traveled to Annapolis, Md., to face Navy on Wednesday in a toss-up game that ended with Lafayette coming up short 55-53. 

“Even though we had a break from games, we still spend so much time in the gym working to get better, so it didn’t feel like we were off,’” sophomore forward Reilly Campbell said.

The first bucket of the game came from the Leopards, as junior guard Nicole Johnson hit a three to get the momentum going for the Maroon and White. Navy responded quickly with a jumper, followed by a basket from sophomore guard Jess Booth that put Lafayette up by three. The Leopards’ lead didn’t last long, as Navy answered yet again with a layup that narrowed the deficit to one point. 

Booth’s next basket regained momentum for the Leopards, and they put together a strong run to take a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Beginning the second quarter, Navy came out firing all cylinders. After the Midshipmen went on a 12-0 run, the Leopards were suddenly down five. 

The Leopards erased the lead as senior forward Natalie Kucowski drew a foul and made both free throws, then added a three to tie the game back up. 

With 1:36 left to play in the half, the Midshipmen took a 26-20 lead that was answered by back-to-back threes from senior guard Sydney Sabino, who notched a career-high 15 points in the game.

Navy hit a jump shot as time expired to pull ahead 28-26 at halftime. 

The third quarter saw both sides trading buckets, as neither team was able to gain a significant lead. Lafayette led by four with just under three minutes to go, but this gap was lessened again and the quarter ended with the Leopards up one, 38-37. 

The fourth quarter remained close, with Campbell getting the Leopards on the board quickly with a layup. With 5:29 left to play, the score sat at 45-45, and after baskets on either side, the game was tied up once again at 49. 

The game was still tied a few minutes later, at 51-51, before Navy pulled away at the end on free throws en route to a 55-53 win.

Sabino shot 41 percent from deep, and Kucowski was the other Leopard to finish in double figures, contributing 10 points and 15 rebounds. Kucowski’s double-double was her 49th total this season, and she is also closing in on the all-time record for most rebounds by a Patriot League player. 

The Leopards’ struggles stemmed from their shooting, only hitting 31.7 percent of their shots.

“We had great energy as a team and we were playing good defense in our zone. We are going to continue to improve as a team executing our offensive sets and hitting the easy shots,” said Campbell.

The Leopards will have a quick turnaround as they will take on Bucknell tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pa. 

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