Posted: December 2, 2008
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Mountain Hawks’ four-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome, as the Syracuse Orange delivered a 69-60 defeat to Lehigh. It was the first loss for the Brown and White since Nov. 16 at St. Joseph’s, and moves the team’s record to 5-2 on the season. Syracuse, meanwhile, improves to 6-2 with the win.
Alex Ross and Kristen Dalton paced the Mountain Hawks’ offense, scoring 15 and 13 points, respectively. Dalton also led the way on the glass with eight rebounds off the bench.
Syracuse had four players score double-digit points in the win, with Chandrea Jones leading the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Nicole Michael overcame a slow first half to register a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Orange.
Lehigh lost the rebounding battle to the Orange for the first time all season on Tuesday. Syracuse pulled in 48 boards while Lehigh was held to just 36 as the bigger Orange players controlled the inside.
“We talked about the two things that were really important to us was to take care of the basketball and not give them easy buckets in transition,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. “The other part of it was not giving them second chance points on the rebounds and we didn’t do a good job there either, so that was frustrating.”
For the second-consecutive game, the Mountain Hawks struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first half. While the Brown and White shot 34.5 percent from the field, it was from downtown where the makes were especially hard to come by. Lehigh went more than 19 minutes without hitting from three-point range, until Alex Ross’ first basket of the game with 56 seconds left in the half broke the ice. The Mountain Hawks shot 1-11 on the period from behind the arc, a 9.1 percent rate from downtown.
That cold shooting helped Syracuse jump out to a 12-0 lead to open the game, as Lehigh did not make a field goal for more than three minutes in the first period.
“One of the things they really needed to do was just watch for the adjustments and the speed of the game,” Troyan said. “This is by far the most athletic and quickest team we’ve faced, and I think it took us a few minutes to adjust. Once they did that and settled in, we played pretty well.”
The Orange didn’t fare much better from the field, shooting 35.9 percent in the half, but Syracuse was able to take advantage of its opportunities from three-point land. The Orange hit on four of its eight attempts from behind the arc, all from Erica Morrow, who was 4-for-5 from deep range for 12 points in the half.
Feeling the momentum after her first field goal at the end of the first half, Ross opened up the second half with another three from the corner that pulled Lehigh to within six. The Mountain Hawks would hit their next two shots from behind the arc as well and sat just five points down, 48-43 with 16:27 remaining in the game.
But the shooting touch quickly turned cold once again from the outside, as Lehigh missed its next eight shots from behind the arc as the Orange continued to grow the lead in the second half. By the end of the game, Lehigh shot just 7-for-28 from behind the arc.
“It’s a little bit of what they were giving us,” Troyan said. “Honestly, we were limited inside with their size against our post players. It’s probably a little more shots than I would like, but we usually shoot a little better than that.”
Syracuse found the breathing room it needed when Nicole Michael took control in the second half. The junior forward was held to just four points in the opening 20 minutes, but she scored nine-consecutive points for the Orange as it went on a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 57-45.
But Lehigh would not go quietly into the cold Syracuse night, as the Mountain Hawks would claw back into the game. An Alex Ross three-pointer with two minutes left pulled Lehigh to within six points, 66-60, but it wasn’t enough as the Orange held on for the win.
Jones iced the game for Syracuse at the free throw line down the stretch, going 12-12 from the stripe. Jones accounted for eight-consecutive points for the Orange in the second half, all from the line.
Lehigh returns to action on Friday when it hosts Bryant at 7 p.m. in Stabler Arena.