Posted: December 7, 2008
VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks fell behind early to the Villanova Wildcats on Sunday and were unable to recover in a 58-52 loss at the Pavilion. The Mountain Hawks dug themselves another deep hole to start the game, much like they had against Syracuse Tuesday when they fell behind 12-0. This time, the Wildcats jumped out to a 13-2 lead with some hot shooting and tough defense.
“If you could take those first 10 minutes away we could have done much better,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. “We just couldn’t make a shot, and it took us a while to settle in and adjust, so it was frustrating. I thought the last 30 minutes were about the best basketball we’ve played all year.”
Lehigh made several rallies throughout the game to cut the lead to as little as three points, but the Mountain Hawks were unable to complete the comeback. The Brown and White falls to 6-3 on the season while the Wildcats improve to 4-4 with the win.
Courtney Dentler earned the first start of her career, and the sophomore forward rewarded her coach’s decision with the best game she’s had in two years with the Mountain Hawks. Dentler put up 15 points – 13 coming in the second half – and added five rebounds. Dentler was extremely efficient form the floor, going 5-for-7 on the day, including 4-for-5 in the second half.
“She showed some great effort tonight,” Troyan said. “I have to give her a lot of credit as somebody who has been waiting for her opportunity. We just gave her the start because we thought she matched up best, and she had a great performance. I’m real proud of how she stepped up in that role.“
Erica Prosser led the way for the Lehigh offense, scoring a team-high 17 points on eight-for-17 shooting. The sophomore guard also tied Dentler for the team lead with five rebounds and led the team with two assists.
The Villanova defense frustrated the Lehigh offense for much of the first period. The Mountain Hawks were forced to settle for several tough shots late in the shot clock as time ticked away. Overall, the Mountain Hawks only connected on nine field goals on 32 attempts (28.1 percent). The tough defense extended out behind the arc as well, as Lehigh went 2-for-10 in the half.
“I thought we did a good job in terms of handling the pressure and taking care of the basketball making good decisions,” Troyan said. “It was just a matter of we didn’t shoot the ball very well today.”
Things started to turn for the Mountain Hawks late in the first half when the Lehigh defense began to have success defending the Villanova shooters. The defense began closing out more and held the Wildcats scoreless for the final 3:05 of the first half.
That success on defense turned into success on the offensive end as well. Tricia Smith’s 3-pointer with 2:15 left sparked a 9-0 run for Lehigh to finish the half. Trailing by seven points, the Mountain Hawks looked to Alex Ross who buried a shot from the corner with a defender in her face as the buzzer sounded, sending the Mountain Hawks into the break trailing just 26-21.
Lehigh continued to push closer to the Wildcats in the second half, but it was unable to tie the score. The Mountain Hawks shot 47.8 percent from the floor in the second half, but the Wildcats were right there with them, shooting 44.0 percent.
Dentler brought the Lehigh bench to its feet when she drove to the basket, absorbing contact from Siobhan O’Connor, and made a tough layup. The free throw after the foul cut the lead to just 45-42 with 3:43 left.
But the crushing blow came two minutes later, when Lehigh appeared to be forcing Villanova into a corner. The Wildcats ran the shot clock all the way down as the Lehigh defense stepped up its intensity, but O’Connor forced up a tough shot that managed to find the hoop, making the score 53-48 with 1:45 left.
Lehigh takes the next 11 days off before it returns to action on Dec. 18 when the team travels to Newark, N.J. to take on the NJIT Highlanders at 7 p.m. A live broadcast of the action will be available on Lehighsports.com.
Buzzer beaters: Lehigh used a different starting lineup for the first time on Sunday; with Courtney Dentler starting for the first game of her career…Sunday’s game was Lehigh’s second matchup with a Big East team this week. The Mountain Hawks fell to the Syracuse Orange, 69-60, at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday…Kristen Dalton was 2-for-2 from the free throw line, improving her percentage to a league-best 22-for23 from the line (96 percent).
Watch Mountain Hawks Basketball Post-Game Extra