ANKENY, Iowa—It was a light and festive spirit Friday night at Faith for a women's and men's doubleheader against Holy Family College from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It was the last day of Finals Week, with free pizza for students and staff, Christmas music, giveaways, and ugly Christmas sweaters. All that was needed to cap the night off was for the women to win their first game of the season, which they did with an exciting 83-77 victory (the men won, too).
Three Eagles recorded double-doubles in the win, with Rachel Kleczka leading the way with 21 points and 15 rebounds—the best performance of her young career. Michaela Crider had her finest game of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Alicia Smith was the third Eagle with a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Makenna Laib was one point and four rebounds away from a double-double of her own with nine points and six rebounds.
Faith had its finest shooting performance of the season, connecting on 42.4 percent of its shots, although they were just 1-of-9 from three-point range. Most notably, they shot 81.3 percent from the free-throw line, connecting on 26-of-32 attempts, which was the difference in a close game throughout.
The Eagles jumped to a 17-2 lead to start the game, but the rest of the first quarter was all Holy Family, as they outscored Faith 18-3 to tie the game at 20 each by the end of quarter one.
Faith fell behind by its largest margin of the game (five points) midway through the second quarter, but battled back to regain the lead with 3:28 remaining. The Eagles recorded eight offensive rebounds in the quarter but trailed by two at halftime.
The Eagles made 13-of-16 free throws in the third quarter as they regained the lead and built it as high as seven points before Holy Family made another run to tie it at 61 with just under two minutes remaining in the third. A last-second bucket at the buzzer by Bekah Smith stretched the Eagles' lead back to four.
Holy Family regained the lead with 8:20 remaining, but the tenacity and hustle from the Eagles was the difference down the stretch as Faith closed out the six-point win. A pair of freshmen—Kleczka and Laib—were the sparkplugs for the Eagles, contributing multiple rebounds and key baskets late in the game.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 1-6 on the season, with a holiday tournament trip to Dallas, Texas, that will take place on Monday and Tuesday.