Patriot League roundup: Holy Cross breaks out; Colgate completes an Ivy sweep; and more news and notes

Photo credit: Mady Salvani/Army West Point Athletics
Photo credit: Mady Salvani/Army West Point Athletics /

Holy Cross beats Boston College in rivalry showdown

It’s not surprising that they won—Holy Cross has a talented team. It’s how they won that should raise a few eyebrows in the league.

Sure, in a rivalry matchup, games can sometimes yield crazy results.  But this contest played like a statement game. And the Crusaders had a lot to say in their home opener.

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The hosts grabbed an early 6-0 lead and didn’t allow a field goal until a transition jumper from Boston College’s Georgia Pineau with 3:34 left in the first quarter. Holy Cross led from start to finish as they cruised past the Eagles at the Hart Center in Worcester, 80-71. They scored inside and out, rebounded well, and got defensive stops when needed. The result marks the second win for the Patriot League over an ACC team in the last week.

The Crusaders placed five players in double-digit scoring and beat Boston College for the first time since December 10, 2014. Junior guard Jenay Faulkner put up a career-high 16 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. Senior center Megan Swords anchored the interior and posted a career-high 21 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Avery LaBarbera also added 16 points.

Holy Cross dominated the boards. They grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and claimed a 51-42 edge overall. Sophomore forward Oluchi Ezemma secured six offensive rebounds and 10 overall.

The Crusaders (1-1) came into the contest following a tough OT loss to Illinois in a game they probably should have won. But its bounce-back outing against Boston College showed the resiliency of a team willing to grow from adversity.

Statement made.

It’s déjà vu all over again for Colgate

Colgate rallies from a second-half double-digit deficit, nails a crucial three-pointer in the last minute of the fourth quarter and goes on to celebrate an improbable victory over an Ivy League opponent. Sound familiar?

It should. Colgate’s 70-67 OT win against Yale was their second consecutive comeback performance in the final seconds versus an Ivy school. Two days earlier, the Raiders stormed back from down 17 points in the second half to defeat Cornell, 62-58. Against the Big Red, late game heroics from Haley Greer—who sank the go-ahead three-pointer with 38.2 seconds remaining—led to a stunning win.

Same story, different heroes for Colgate against Yale. This time it was a three-pointer at the right wing from junior Keelah Dixon. Trailing 59-56 with 21.9 seconds left, the hosts hunted an open three-pointer against a Yale pressure defense. With six ticks left, Dixon forced a three that was blocked by the Bulldogs’ Camilla Emsbo but deflected right back at Dixon. She quickly dished to teammate Nia Ahart and then re-located to the corner. Ahart found Dixon who shot-faked another block attempt by Emsbo, side-stepped her as she flew by, and nailed the game-tying three-pointer with 4.8 seconds left to force overtime.

Colgate entered the OT period without this week’s Patriot League Player of the Week, Rachel Thompson. She was forced to foul in the comeback and picked up her fifth and final foul in the last minute of the fourth quarter. Freshman Alexa Brodie stepped in to provide the spark for the Raiders. Trailing by one, Brodie’s driving lay-up with 57 seconds remaining in OT put the Raiders up for good. They went on to win, 60-57, to move to 4-0 for the first time in 10 years.

American breaks out in convincing win over Villanova

Don’t count out the Eagles. While American was picked fifth in the Patriot League’s pre-season poll and in our season preview, AU finished week two with a resounding win over Villanova, 76-54.

The pain of a season-opening loss to a sharp-shooting Ohio University team stung a little less after this weekend’s home win against the Wildcats combined with Ohio’s surprising win over Ohio State, 74-68.

American (1-1) jumped out to a commanding 23-5 edge over Villanova (0-3) at the end of the first quarter behind the play of sophomore Jade Edwards and senior Kaitlyn Marenyi. The duo combined for 16 points in the period.

A 10-2 Villanova run in the second quarter cut the lead to 32-22–but that’s as close as the Wildcats would get. American would grow its lead to as many as 23 points and ease to victory. It marks the program’s first win over Villanova.

How’d they do it? Head Coach Megan Gebbia has her team clicking on offense.  This team might not have depth, but their starting five is playing well together. Marenyi is providing all the intangibles expected of a team leader and senior guard who played over 30 minutes a game last season. Against Villanova, she scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds, and added two steals.

Sophomore guards Jade Edwards and Emily Fisher each posted career highs in the win. Edwards, who averaged 7.0 PPG last season, scored a team-high 24 points to go with 8 rebounds. And Fisher’s break-out game is notable. In just her fourth career start, she scored 22 points on 9 for 11 shooting and didn’t commit a turnover in 33 minutes of action. The Australian native averaged just 3.6 PPG last season.

What does it mean moving forward? It means everything is okay in D.C. Their depth will be tested with three games this week, but early-season returns are showing American will remain a contender. And they may have something to say about that pre-season poll when Patriot League play begins.

League news and notes

  • Bucknell senior Ellie Mack scored a career-high 33 points versus Quinnipiac.
  • Loyola (MD) picked up their first victory of the year—a 75-46 road win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
  • Sophomore Jennifer Coleman leads Navy in scoring with 14.0 PPG.
  • Army overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat Air Force, 68-66, to earn their first victory of the year.
  • Colgate’s 4-0 mark is their best start in 10 seasons.
  • Boston University posted wins over University of New Hampshire 78-64, and University of Maine 62-49, as part of a three-game American East road trip. Next up this week: Albany.
  • Stephanie Karcz of Loyola (MD) posted 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 steals in the win against FDU.
  • Lehigh secured 12 steals and forced 28 turnovers in a 59-53 win over George Washington University.
  • Colgate continues to make the 4th quarter count: outscoring opponents 80-54, and shooting 31 for 57 for 54.3%–including 14 for 26 from three-point distance.
  • Natalie Kucowski posted 21 points and 12 rebounds in Lafayette’s 73-65 OT loss to Duquesne.
  • Boston University’s starting line-up through three games has featured two freshmen: Sydney Johnson (15.0 PPG) and Annabelle Larnard (10.0 PPG). BU is 2-1.

Patriot League Player of the Week:

Rachel Thompson, Colgate, Senior Guard

  • Averaged 19.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4.5 steals per game this week.
  • Led Colgate to a sweep of Ivy League teams Cornell and Yale.
  • Finished week one shooting 53.3% from the floor, converting 16 of 30.
  • It’s the second Player of the Week honor of her career.

Patriot League Rookie of the Week

Sabria Hunter, Army, Freshman Forward

  • Scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Army’s come-from-behind win over Air Force.
  • Hunter is shooting 59.1% from the floor (13 for 22) on the season.
  • Reached double-figures in scoring in two of her first three career games.
  • Tied for team-high honors in rebounds at 6.3 RPG.

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