The Lafayette women’s basketball team looks to use the momentum it received from its thrilling overtime win over Bucknell when it takes on Holy Cross on Wednesday evening inside Kirby Sports Center. The Leopards (11-14, 4-6) take on the Crusaders (13-12, 5-5) for the second time this season at 7 p.m. Lafayette’s Alicia Manning hit a circus shot at the end of regulation to force overtime on Saturday in Lafayette’s 66-61 win over the Bison and moved to a tie for fifth in the League standings. The Crusaders hold a 48-8 advantage over the Leopards in their history and Lafayette dropped the last meeting on Jan. 23 in Worcester, Mass., 60-55.
LEOPARDS’ LAST TIME OUT
Alicia Manning’s off-balance runner at the buzzer erased a 16-point halftime deficit and set the stage for the Leopards’ 66-61 dramatic overtime win at Bucknell on Saturday night.
The Leopards (11-14) never trailed in overtime following Danielle Fiacco’s layup just 10 seconds in. Kelly Loughney followed with five points, including a momentum-building three, and Linnel Macklin and Maddie Peabody each converted a pair of free throws as the Leopards grinded out the five-point victory that put both teams at 4-6 in Patriot League play.
Peabody finished with a team-high 15 points followed by Loughney’s 14 and Fiacco’s seventh career double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds).
Lafayette shot 39 percent from the floor and made 7-of-15 (47%) from long distance. The Leopards held Bucknell to 30 percent from the floor in the second half and forced 10 turnovers in the second half and overtime. For the game, Lafayette dished out a season-high 21 assists to 15 turnovers and outrebounded Bucknell 39-35.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS
The Crusaders come into Wednesday night’s Patriot League matchup at 13-12 overall and 5-5 in the conference. Picked to finish third in the preseason poll, Holy Cross sits in fourth place in the league. The Crusaders enter the game winners of four of their last five, including a 73-63 win over American on Saturday.
Junior guard Alex Smith leads the Crusaders in scoring (14.8 ppg), knocking down 79 three-pointers this season. The Delran, N.J. native has also pulled down 101 rebounds and dished out 97 assists so far this year. Smith was named Patriot League Player of the Week on Feb. 3 after 19.0 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in two games.
Senior Amy Lepley is second on the team in scoring at 11.4 ppg and leads the Crusaders in rebounds per game, grabbing 5.1 boards. Junior Brisje Malone (9.1 ppg) is the team leader in assists (110) and steals (44). Classmate Christine Ganser is a force down low averaging 8.6 points per contest and 5.1 boards per game.
The Crusaders lead the Patriot League in a number of offensive categories, including scoring with 61.0 points per game. Holy Cross also shoots the highest percentage from the field (41.5) and from three (33.9). The Crusaders share the basketball averaging 15.5 assists per contest, tops in the Patriot League.
Lafayette and Holy Cross come into Saturday’s contest as very different teams. Holy Cross is the highest scoring team in the League, tallying 61.0 points per contest, while Lafayette sits last in points per game at 52.9 per night. Additionally, the Leopards are third in the League in rebounding at 41.1 boards per game, while the Crusaders are seventh with just 35.9 rebounds per contest.
The one similarity between the two teams is in the assists column as both teams run their offensive sets very efficiently. Holy Cross leads the League in assists per game with 15.5, while Lafayette is right behind them in the second spot with 13.5 helpers per contest.
ROAMING THE SIDELINE
Lafayette head coach Dianne Nolan enters today’s matchup with a career record of 547-471 and a 30-55 mark in her third year at Lafayette. On the other side, Holy Cross head coach Bill Gibbons is in his 28th season with the Crusaders, holding a career mark of 528-313.
FOUND A PEANUT
Sophomore guard Maddie Peabody has taken advantage of her increased minutes over the past few games with Brya Freeland out due to a back injury. Peabody notched career-highs in minutes with 28 each in the wins over Lehigh and Colgate and dropped a then-career-high nine points against the Mountain Hawks. Against Colgate, she set another career mark, this time in rebounds, as the 5’5” guard went in among the trees and ripped down six boards. Her jumper from the right elbow with 1:39 remaining helped seal the win over American on Feb. 2.
Peabody continues to come into her own as the second half of the Patriot League season moves along. She notched a new career-high with 10 points in the overtime loss to Navy on Feb. 9, also tallying a season-high four field goals, including two in final four minutes to send the game to an extra session. Peabody topped that mark yet again against Army as she tallied 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the three-point arc, both new career-high’s.
Continuing her coming-out party, Peabody tallied 15 points in the overtime win at Bucknell on Saturday. She hit two key free throws down the stretch to put Lafayette in position to tie the game on Manning’s buzzer-beater.
Through the early part of the second half of the Patriot League schedule, the Leopards have come upon the hardest stretch of games on their 2012-13 schedule. After back-to-back games against League leaders, the Leopards went on the road against the number two team in the Patriot League, Army, on Wednesday, and faced the number four team in Bucknell on Saturday. This week, the Leopards face Holy Cross Wednesday and will go for the season sweep of archrival Lehigh on Saturday.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Holy Cross holds a 48-8 advantage in the all-time series after sweeping the two games a year ago and winning the first meeting this season in Worcester, 60-55. The Maroon and White are 4-19 when the two clubs convene in Easton and Holy Cross holds the 24-2 advantage in Worcester.
ELI, PEYTON, COOPER, ARCHIE...AND ALICIA?
Senior co-captain Alicia Manning showed her leadership on Senior Day inside Kirby Sports Center versus Navy on Feb. 9 as she hit key shots down the stretch to force the game into overtime. Manning notched a season-high 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. She currently sits 10th on Lafayette’s all-time list in three-point field goals made with 44.
Manning scored five of her 10 points in the final 47 seconds to send the game into a third session.
On Saturday, her heroics continued as she nailed a circus, over-the-head hook shot from the foul line as regular time expired to send the game into overtime at Bucknell. From there, her teammates took over and the Leopards pulled away with a 66-61 victory.
Head coach Dianne Nolan’s halftime speeches have been working this season, as the Leopards have clearly been a second-half team so far this year. Lafayette has posted a higher number in the second half compared to the first in 18 of its 25 games in 2012-13. Against Providence (12/30), the Leopards doubled their first-half output in the second, putting up 36 points in the final 20 minutes compared to 18 points in the opening stanza.
Additionally, the overtime loss to Navy was Lafayette’s first loss this season when leading going into the halftime break. The Leopards were down by 16 at the break on Saturday, but came out on fire with a 34-18 second-half advantage and an 11-6 overtime edge.