Team huddles
Rick Smith

Women's Basketball

Lafayette Readies for FAU Tournament

The Leopards take on Florida Atlantic Friday, Bradley or Delaware Saturday

Opening Tip
- The Leopards are coming off their first loss of the season, a heartbreaker at the hands of Saint Peter's, 62-60. Senior Alex Cantwell scored 10 points in the final minute to overcome a nine-point deficit, but the hot shooting of the Peacocks was too much for Lafayette.
- Sophomore Natalie Kucowski became the first player in Lafayette women's basketball history to record three consecutive double-doubles to open the season. She added to her record with a 17-point, 14-rebound performance against Saint Peter's.
- Heading into Tuesday, Kucowski was ranked fourth in the nation in rebounds per game with 15.3 a contest. Her "off night" off 14 rebounds against the Peacocks dropped her average to 15.0 a game in 2018-19.
- Lafayette will take on either Bradley or Delaware on Saturday in tournament play at the FAU Thanksgiving Tournament before returning to Kirby Sports Center on Dec. 1 as Albany comes to College Hill.
Scouting Florida Atlantic
The Owls are featuring an even scoring attack with four players averaging at least seven points. They are led by Myka Johnson Matthews at 11.3 ppg. She had a 17-point performance in the first win of the season against Richmond on Sunday.
Abby Voss leads the way in the rebounding department with 11.3 a contest while averaging 8.0 ppg.
Florida Atlantic was selected ninth out of 12 teams in Conference USA in the league's preseason poll.
All-Time Series
The Leopards knocked of Florida Atlantic in the only meeting between the two programs in the 1993-94 season.
Last Meeting
Lafayette defeated the Owls 70-53 in the Church's Holiday Classic in Coral Gables, Florida. The contest still stands as the southern-most played game in Lafayette women's basketball history.
Lafayette went on the finish the season 18-9 and rattled off the most consecutive wins to open the season in the Patriot League era with six.
The streak was ended with a two-game skid prior to the meeting with the Owls.
A Record Start
Sophomore Natalie Kucowski became the first player in Lafayette women's basketball history to record three consecutive double-doubles to open the season. Now, she is adding to that record as she has recorded four in a row to open the season. She has done so by scoring a career-high 29 points in the season opener at FDU with 16 rebounds followed by a 14-point, 13-rebound performance against Binghamton. The third came at Wagner when the Philadelphia native scored 25 points with 17 rebounds. She also swatted a career-high five shots in the win at Wagner. Kucowski scored 17 points and grabbed 14 boards against St. Peter's on Tuesday night.
Hot Start
The Leopards were 3-0 to open the season for the first time since the 2013-14 season when that team opened the year 4-0.
Windex Wipes
The Leopards are tops in the Patriot League and 19th nationally in rebounds per game, pulling in 48.0 per contest. Kucowski's 15.0 rpg ranks her first in the League and fourth in all of college basketball.
Getting Defensive
The Leopards rank inside the top three in the Patriot League in major defensive statistical categories. Lafayette is first in scoring defense and 48th nationally, first in opponent field goal percentage and 29th nationally, and second in opponent 3-point field goal percentage and 99th nationally.
Classroom Success
The 2017-18 Leopards ranked No. 14 among Division I women's basketball programs for team GPA. Lafayette compiled a team GPA of 3.538 last season and were 1-of-2 Patriot League institutions to rank inside the top-25.
Returning Points
Lafayette returns nine players from last year's team and 74 percent of its total points production from the 2017-18 season. The Leopards also return four of their five leading scorers in junior Alexis Santarelli (8.0 ppg) and sophomores Drew Feeland (7.2 ppg), Natalie Kucowski (10.9 ppg), and Olivia Martino (7.4 ppg).
A Half of Boards
Freshman Makaila Wilson grabbed a career-best nine rebounds on Tuesday night against Saint Peter's. She did so all in the first half as the Fairport, New York native sat most of the second with foul trouble.
Let's Get Tropical
The Leopards will be spending their Thanksgiving holiday in paradise, taking part in the Florida Atlantic Thanksgiving Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. Lafayette meets up with host FAU on Nov. 23 and will take on either Bradley or Delaware on Nov. 24 in tournament play.
The Return of Syd the Kid
Junior Sydney Sabino is coming off the bench for Lafayette after sitting out all of 2017-18 due to transfer rules. The sharp shooter scored her first points in a Lafayette uniform when she traveled back to her previous school and went 2-for-2 from beyond the arc in the win.

Rookie Assists
Freshman point guard Nicole Johnson dished out a game-high six assists in the victory at Wagner. It was the most assists by a Lafayette freshman since the 2015-16 season when then-freshman Alex Cantwell had seven assists in a win over Boston U. on Jan. 9.
Maroon and White Debuts
In the season opener, five Leopards made their Lafayette debuts in freshmen Nicole Johnson, Makaila Wilson, Jiselle Havas, and Naomi Ganpo, along with junior Sydney Sabino. All four of the freshmen recorded their first collegiate points in the win.
OH MY Alex Cantwell!
Lafayette trailed on Tuesday, 59-50, with 1:09 left in the game when senior Alex Cantwell went off for 10 points in the game's final minute. The Glen Head, New York native was a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 60 seconds. She tied the game with 12 seconds left and took a charge on the ensuing possession to get the Leopards the ball back in a 60-60 tie. Unfortunately, Cantwell was injured on the play and missed the remainder of the game.
Youth Movement
Lafayette has yet to start an "upperclassman" as the Leopards have featured three sophomores and a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup for the opening four games of the season. However, the Maroon and White have turned to senior Alex Cantwell and junior Tasha Vipond to be the first and second players off of the bench this season. Kucowski is leading the team with 32.2 minutes per contest.
Record Treys
In the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, the Leopards set a program record with 12 3-point field goals against Boston U. Leading the charge was now-junior Sarah Agnello who went 6-for-8 from beyond and Martino who was 4-for-6. The previous record was 10 which was set during the 2015-16 season against St. Francis Brooklyn on Dec. 4.
Now Boarding
In just her freshman season, Natalie Kucowski set the Lafayette record for rebounds in a single season with 309 in 2017-18, passing Alicia Yapsuga who had 299 in the 1996-97 season. Kucowski entered the final game of the season five rebounds shy of the record and pulled down 14 in the Patriot League quarterfinals. She was 1-of-2 players in the Patriot League to average a double-double in 2017-18.
Three for Three
The Leopards featured three players to rank inside the top-10 on the Lafayette single-season 3-point percentage list in 2017-18, featuring Freeland (39.7%), Martino (38.6%) and Agnello (36.8%).
The Damon-Olson Effect
The Maroon and White saw drastic improvements in head coach Kia Damon-Olson's first season at the helm. The Leopards topped the Patriot League in 3-point field goal percentage (34.7%), ranked third in rebounding margin (plus-0.5), fourth in rebounds per game (36.4) and free throw percentage (70.8%), and fifth in scoring defense (60.7).
Walk-on No more
Drew Freeland was surprised with a full athletic scholarship on the road trip to Navy last season after joining the team as a walk-on before the season started. "Drew has worked very hard and she is exactly the type of young woman I want on my team," said Damon-Olson. "We see her hard work and appreciate the effort she puts in each and every day." That hard work and effort turned into Patriot League All-Rookie honors for the Virginia-native.
Meet the Rookies
Each of the three freshmen from a season ago were key contributors in their rookie campaigns and the five newcomers this season will have big roles to fill, as well.
Naomi Ganpo comes to College Hill by way of Ontario, Canada and is a big time presence in the paint. Standing at 6-3, Ganpo will play a true forward position and play a factor in the rebounding and defensive game while continuing to develop her offensive package.
Jiselle Havas is the southern-most resident on the team hailing from Windermere, Florida, winning two state championships in high school. Havas comes in with the ability to shoot from distance which plays right into the strategy of the team.
Nicole Johnson was a four-year starter at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey. She is a true point guard and brings speed to both sides of the ball.
Becca Margolis was a three-time all-league performer in high school on the hardwood while starting all four years on the basketball and soccer teams. Margolis is another strong ball handler and plays much bigger than her 5-2 frame.
Makaila Wilson was a state champion at Penfield High School in Fairport, New York and brings size as a 6-foot guard. Wilson has the ability to play multiple positions and started all four years on the basketball court and soccer field in high school.
No Captains... Leaders
When head coach Kia Damon-Olson took over, she introduced the Lafayette Women's Basketball Leadership Council, consisting of one student-athlete from each class. This year's representatives are senior Alex Cantwell, junior Alexis Santarelli, sophomore Drew Freeland, and freshman Nicole Johnson
Print Friendly Version

Players Mentioned