Lauryn Kobiela scored eight points for Colgate Wednesday night against Lafayette at Cotterell Court. (Photo by Bob Cornell)
(Hamilton, NY – Jan. 30, 2013) It was just too much of a mountain to climb.
Lafayette was too tall on the inside and the halftime deficit too much to overcome as Colgate dropped a 53-45 Patriot League game here Wednesday night.
Not even the shock return of center Lulu Brase could put the Raiders over the edge against the taller Leopards, who won their second straight game while Colgate’s losing streak moved to seven.
“I didn’t find out until Tuesday,” said Brase, who on Jan. 11 was ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in her knee. “I got a second opinion and found out Tuesday. It was a surprise to me too.”
Brase contributed four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes, but she drew a difficult assignment finding daylight against a Lafayette front line that included 6-foot-7 Danielle Fiacco and 6-foot-3 Emily Homan.
Fiacco finished with 10 points, seven boards and three blocked shots, while Homan added eight points and five caroms to help the Leopards produce a 49-40 rebounding edge.
“We knew that coming in,” Colgate head coach Nicci Hays Fort said of the challenge. “Fiacco is third in the country in blocked shots, and Homan is really good. The point guard’s pretty good too.”
That’s freshman Jamie O’Hare, who led all scorers with 15 points.
Colgate finished without a player in double figures. The Raiders were paced by eight points apiece from Lauryn Kobiela and Kelly Reid, while Missy Repoli added seven points to go with a career-high nine rebounds. Colgate tallied one more field goal than Lafayette, but was outscored 16-6 at the line.
“I’m just trying to do the little things,” Repoli said. “When my shot’s not falling, you’ve got to do something else while you’re out there. You’ve got to play good defense and get rebounds where you can.
“I’m glad my shot has started to come back a little bit, and we attacked great today. We just weren’t able to finish them. We’ve just got to figure out how to close out the games.”
Both teams posted 7-0 runs in the opening half. Lafayette went first for a 13-8 advantage, and then Colgate answered a few minutes later to close within 18-17 on Kobiela’s jumper in the paint with 6:47 remaining. Kobiela’s scoring total was her best since a season-high 11 last month against Saint Francis.
But the Leopards responded with a 14-0 run that nearly extended into the locker room if not for Paige Kriftcher’s buzzer-beater. The intermission score was 32-19, Lafayette.
“I told the team this is what we’ve got to figure out: How do we come out where we get the quick and efficient start?” Hays Fort said. “We’ve got to have more head, heart and guts – more gumption – to start the game.
“We had 11 turnovers in the first half and six in the second, and two of those were on the first two possessions of the second half.”
Three Holes Too Deep
Wednesday marked the third straight home game where Colgate faced a huge hole at halftime: Lehigh led 38-22, and Navy was on top 31-15.
“We’re just trying to figure out how we can play like the second half in the first half,” Repoli said. “We’ve got to figure out different little things to fix.”
Colgate’s defense clamped down on their visitors to begin the final period. Lafayette didn’t break into the second-half scoring column until Fiacco dropped a pair of free throws with 14:54 showing on the clock. But Colgate had managed only two points of its own during that dry stretch, and the lead was still double digits.
The Raiders closed within eight by the 5-minute mark, and were four down with 2 minutes to play when O’Hare answered with her second 3-pointer to ice the game. Lafayette improved to 9-12 overall and 2-4 in the Patriot League; Colgate is 6-14 and 0-6.
“Again, we did some really good things tonight,” Hays Fort said. ““I thought we battled. Missy having nine rebounds is huge for us. Lauren Kobiela had a really good game. Kelly Reid again – seven rebounds and four offensive rebounds against those big kids is really good.”
“But we dug ourselves a hole. They shot a lot of free throws in the second half (made 12 of 18). A lot of those were from offensive rebounds or drives. Lafayette’s second-chance (15) and points off turnovers (18) – huge.”
Bracing for More
So the feel-good story of the night belonged to Brase, Colgate’s senior captain whose sudden end to her collegiate playing career has turned into possibly a few more chances to play the game she loves. Thanks to a special brace – one worn Wednesday and an even better one that’s on the way – Brase may get one more run through the Patriot League circuit.
“She was able to see another orthopedic specialist, who was impressed that the irritation in her knee had settled down,” Colgate team physician Dr. Merrill Miller said in describing the change of diagnosis. “He thought that with a special brace, she could see if she was able to get back to sports on a limited basis.
“And in terms of Lulu herself, she is one of the nicest, toughest and most determined people I’ve ever met. I would want her on my team for any project in life.”
Miller also praised the cooperation of Hays Fort, who is willing for Brase to complete her Colgate career on the student-athlete’s terms – even if that means following a different practice and playing regimen.
“It might be a game-by-game thing; it might be where she doesn’t practice at all,” Hays Fort said. “But she’s willing to give it a try.”
She is, indeed. And neither Brase nor the Raiders have given up on a 2013 turnaround.
“The team’s doing well,” she said. “We’re still trying to find out who we were. As Coach keeps saying, we’re kind of a work in progress. We’re trying to put the pieces together.
“We keep putting together good second halves. We’ve got to find a way to start the game off well and hold it for 40 minutes.”
That next chance comes Saturday at Holy Cross. Start time is 1 p.m.
“We got better today,” Hays Fort said. “We were a lot better than we were against Navy. Now we’ve got to be a lot better at Holy Cross.”
Lafayette 53, Colgate 45
Lafayette (9-12, 2-4): Linnel Macklin 9, Jamie O’Hare 15, Emily Homan 8, Madeline Fahan 2, Maddie Peabody 4, Ashley Springer 2, Danielle Fiacco 10, Kelly Loughney 3. Totals: 17-16-53.
Colgate (6-14, 0-6): Lauryn Kobiela 8, Jhazmine Lynch 2, Catherine Lewis 3, Kelly Reid 8, Missy Repoli 7, Randyll Butler 2, Mariah Jones 3, Lulu Brase 4, Paige Kriftcher 3, Josie Stockill 3, Carole Harris 2. Totals: 18-6-45.
3-Point Field Goals: Lafayette 3 (O’Hare 2, Macklin); Colgate 3 (Lewis, Repoli, Jones).
Halftime: Lafayette 32-19.