Posted: November 14, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team ran away with an 83-52 season-opening victory at Stabler Arena Friday. The Mountain Hawks shook off some first-game jitters to jump out to a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back. Junior guard Alex Ross led the way for the Brown and White with 21 points, including a 5-of-10 performance from behind the three-point line. The hot-shooting helped lead the Brown and White to the most points in a season opener in school history.
Lehigh pulled away with a 17-2 run in the first half, which extended the lead to 31-13 with 5:47 remaining in the period. Sophomore guard Erica Prosser spurred the run with seven of her 16 points in that span. Prosser noticed the defense playing off her as she brought the ball up court, so she spotted up for an open three-pointer to push the lead to 10 points. The next time down the floor, Prosser used her athleticism to blow by a defender for a tough layup in the lane to swing the momentum over to the Mountain Hawks to stay.
With the lead, Lehigh was able to clamp down with its defense that ranked fifth in the nation in points allowed last season. The Mountain Hawks forced the Quakers into 24 turnovers by the end of the night and held them to just 36.2 percent shooting from the field.
“Our goal is to hold teams to less than 50 points,” Ross said. “We came really close tonight. Defense is what we were great at last year and it’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
The Mountain Hawks struggled to find a rhythm in the early minutes of the game, amassing more turnovers (five) than field goals (one) in the first five minutes of play. Turnovers plagued both teams throughout the first half. Lehigh racked up 13 giveaways in the period, and the Quakers were even more charitable, turning the ball over 14 times in the opening half.
“Everybody was just a little nervous,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. “I think this is a team that has a lot to prove, and they were just anxious.”
After the Mountain Hawks were able to shake off the jitters, they caught fire from the floor, especially behind the arc. Ross connected on three-consecutive shots from downtown and junior Courtney Dentler added a fourth in a row for the Brown and White.
The burst gave Lehigh a 12-9 advantage less than seven minutes into the game, and the Mountain Hawks would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
“We didn’t come out very well,” Ross said. “But I think just hitting those threes really got everyone going. It’s an awesome feeling when the crowd and the bench get excited after those shots.”
Eventually the Mountain Hawks would miss a shot from behind the arc, but it would not slow them down. By the end of the game, Lehigh racked up nine three pointers on 19 attempts, for a 47.4 percent success rate from deep range.
Freshman Alexa Williams proved in her collegiate debut that Lehigh can do more than hit the long shots, as she came off the bench with nine points. Williams was 4-of-6 from the field and racked up seven rebounds, giving the Mountain Hawks a post threat on both the offensive and defensive ends.
“Alexa played really well tonight,” Troyan said. “She’s a pretty dynamic player in the post. She has a lot to learn this year, but you can’t teach athleticism like she has.”
With the big lead in the second half, Troyan was able to go to her bench and get contributions from several players on the roster. A total of 13 Mountain Hawks got into the game by the final buzzer, with 12 players registering at least one point.
The Mountain Hawks were able to get contributions from all over the court, with fifth-year guard Claire Sullivan leading the team with eight assists and senior guard Tricia Smith putting up a team-high nine rebounds. Senior forward Haly Crites led the team in shooting percentage by going 5-of-6 (.833) from the field for 12 points.
“It was a good start for our team,” Troyan said. “I really felt like the team put out a great team effort and everyone was involved.”
The Mountain Hawks will hit the road for the next four games, starting with a trip to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph’s on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Lehigh - Penn post-game show, November 14, 2008