WOMEN'S BASKETBALL UPENDS LAFAYETTE, 62-43
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Alysha Womack (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) scored a game-high 20 points, her fourth-straight game with at least 20 points to open the season, as the Monmouth University women's basketball team defeated Lafayette, 62-43, in the opening round of the Thanksgiving Challenge Friday afternoon at the Multipurpose Activity Center. With the win, the Hawks improve to 1-3, while the Leopards fall to 1-4.
Womack also added a career-high eight assists, while doing her scoring damage on an efficient 8-for-14 shooting, including 2-for-3 from long distance. Abigail Martin (Maplewood, N.J./Columbia) also scored in double-figures with 12 points, while Betsy Gadziala (Whitesboro, N.Y./Whitesboro) added a team-high nine rebounds while drawing the defensive assignment of Leopards 6-foot-7 center Danielle Fiacco. Fiacco grabbed 11 rebounds in the contest, but none came on the offensive glass.
Lafayette was led by Emily Homan, who narrowly missed a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. The next-greatest offensive contributor was Fiacco, who was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The Hawks sprinted to a 23-point lead in the first half on the strength of 15 points from Womack and 10 more from Martin. The Monmouth defense stifled the Leopards, holding them without a field goal for almost 11 minutes to start the game. All told, the Hawks held Lafayette to just 14.3 percent (4-28) shooting in the first half.
After the Hawks scored nine of the game's first 11 points, Monmouth followed with a 12-0 run to go on top, 21-4, on a Womack fast-break lay-up at the 9:30 mark. The Hawks gradually worked the advantage up to 23, 36-13, on Martin's lay-up with 2:22 remaining in the half. Homan and Brya Freeland led Lafayette with five points apiece in the opening stanza.
Lafayette whittled the Monmouth lead to single-digits, 38-29, scoring 12 of the first 14 points to open the second half. But Monmouth countered with a 9-0 run to regain a comfortable cushion, and the Leopards would draw to within no closer than 13 points the rest of the way. Four different Hawks scored in the 9-0 stretch. The lead eventually swelled to as many as 21 points on Carly Thibault's (East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme) two free throws with 2:27 remaining in regulation.
For the game, Monmouth outshot Lafayette, 39.0 percent (23-59) to 23.6 percent (13-55) from the floor and 37.5 percent (3-8) to 16.7 percent (2-12) from long range. The Leopards took a 75.0 percent (15-20) to 56.5 percent (13-23) advantage from the free-throw line. Monmouth outrebounded the Leopards, 44-41, while taking a 21-9 edge on points off turnovers.
The Hawks return to Thanksgiving Challenge action Sunday, when they travel to Lehigh. Opening tip from Stabler Arena is scheduled for 2 p.m.