EASTON, PA - The Army women’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a 64-53 victory over Lafayette in a Patriot League contest on Saturday afternoon at the Kirby Sports Center. The Black Knights improve to 22-7 overall and 14-4 in the league to clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament. The Leopards fall to 14-15 and 8-10 and will enter the postseason as the No. 6 seed.
Army sophomore Kelsey Minato reached double-digit points for the 45th game in a row, totaling a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, four rebounds and six assists. In the final regular-season game of her career, senior Jen Hazlett came one rebound shy of posting her sixth double-double of the year, as she recorded 13 points and nine boards. Sophomore Aimee Oertner netted eight points in the second half to finish with 10 points and six rebounds.
Sophomore Jean Parker contributed nine points and four rebounds off the bench, and classmate Brianna Johnson notched six points and seven boards.
Sophomore Jamie O’Hare totaled a team-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds for Lafayette, while senior Danielle Fiacco provided 12 points and seven boards. Junior Linnel Macklin scored nine points off the bench, and senior Kelly Loughney added seven points and five rebounds.
Loughney led the Leopards with four points during the first half’s opening 6:17, as the hosts held a 13-12 advantage. Hazlett went on a personal 8-4 run to put the Black Knights on top, 20-17, over a span of 1:56. During the stretch, Hazlett knocked down her second and third three-pointers of the contest to begin 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Army led by as many as nine in the opening frame, but Lafayette managed to claw all the way back, using a 13-4 run during the period’s last 3:42. Fiacco capped the run with a follow-up lay-in as time expired.
Army took back the momentum early in the second half, following an 11-4 run that spanned the first 5:21 of the stanza. Four players scored for the Black Knights during the run, including Minato, who chipped in four. Just as they did the first half, the Leopards came back to deadlock the contest. O’Hare buried a three-pointer to cap a 7-0 stretch for the hosts at the 11:10 mark of the second frame, as the score stood 45-45.
Army continued the back-and-forth pace over the next 5:11, as Minato led the visitors by scoring six points during an 11-3 run to give the Black Knights a 56-48 lead. Five unanswered points by Lafayette cut the deficit to three with 3:37 remaining, but Army finished the game off on an 8-0 run that included a 6-of-6 showing from the foul line. Oertner buried a jumper at the 2:50 mark to extend the Black Knight lead to 58-53 before Johnson, Minato and Parker all converted a pair of free-throws in the final 46 seconds.
The Black Knights return to action on Thursday, March 6 when they host a Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinal match-up at Christl Arena. Army will face the winner of a first round game between No. 7 Boston University and No. 10 Loyola at 7:30 p.m.