The women’s basketball team defeated the Johnson and Wales Wildcats Tuesday night at the Athletic Center, extending their win streak to seven games, the longest in program history.
During the first quarter, the Lasers got out to a five-point lead after three straight three-pointers made by sophomore guard Kiara Cerruti, all assisted by graduate guard Brooke Dambois. Shortly after, Sullivan-Sanders made a lay-up in back-to-back possessions, bringing the score to 18-15. During the final seconds of the quarter, Laura Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound, fought through contact, and drew a foul right before the buzzer. Johnson could not capitalize on her free throws, which happened to be the only time the Lasers got to the line all quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, both teams struggled to put the ball in the net. After three minutes of scoreless play, Head Coach Kelley Sundberg subbed out three of her five starters. Moments later, junior guard Jasmine Depina got an offensive rebound and found junior forward Mia Sullivan-Sanders for a mid-range jumper. Now back up five points, the Lasers and Wildcats battled back and forth until both sides were knotted at 22 points apiece.
Towards the end of the first half, sophomore guard Laura Johnson started finding her rhythm under the basket, sinking a turnaround teardrop in the paint and getting back to the free throw line where she calmly made both attempts from the stripe. Despite dominating the offensive end, the Lasers struggled to contain the Wildcats who answered with a two-point jumper, and almost cashed in on an inbound play as the first-half buzzer sounded.
The Wildcats picked up right where they left off in the second half, making a lay-up that narrowed the Lasers’ lead to one point. The momentum was short-lived, however, as first-year forward Blaize Mack drove to the basket and made the lay-up, on top of getting fouled. The next Lasers’ possession, Mack continued to be effective for her squad, grabbing two offensive rebounds and sinking both free throws after drawing another foul call.
With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, the Wildcats were forced to adjust as they committed their seventeenth turnover of the game. On the other side of the ball, Johnson and Depina dominated the paint, while Damboise and sophomore guard Shirle Major both nailed a shot from beyond the arc.
As the Lasers kept their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, moving the ball as well as they have all season, the main focus turned to the defensive side of the ball. With a few minutes left in the game, Depina stole the ball while defending her team’s basket. Without hesitation, Depina dribbled down the hardwood, hustling the entire way toward the basket. As she went up for the contested lay-up, Depina finished through contact, sending the Athletic Center into a frenzy. After completing the three-point play, Depina and the Lasers gained their largest lead of the match at 19 points.
Despite giving up some easy buckets down the stretch, the Lasers won the game 68-53. Cerruti led the team in points with 13, Damboise led the team in assists with six, and Johnson fell just one rebound shy of a 12-point double-double. The team will look to sustain its momentum Thursday night when it takes on the Colby-Sawyer Chargers at 5:30 p.m.