Posted: December 29, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks advanced to the Christmas City Classic final for the fifth-straight year after a 67-47 victory over North Florida on Monday. The Mountain Hawks got 16 points from sophomore guard Erica Prosser and 24 points off the bench to roll to victory in the second game of the evening.
The win gives Lehigh a 9-3 for the season, the best start by a Mountain Hawks team since the 1989-90 season. Lehigh also improves its winning streak to three games, and has not lost since Dec. 7 at Villanova.
The Mountain Hawks will next play La Salle in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night in Stabler Arena. The Explorers advanced to the final after knocking off Valparaiso in the first game of the night.
“A lot of players have been contributing this season,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said of her team’s depth. “Coming into the season we knew we had a lot of depth and we would be able to get some of these players some time early. That will only help us going forward.”
Juliemay Squio led the way for North Florida with nine points in the loss. The Ospreys move to 2-8 on the season and will play in the consolation game against Valparaiso at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Lehigh’s bench helped it pull away late in the first half. Troyan went to a full-scale line change, subbing in five players at once with 5:22 remaining in the period and the Mountain Hawks leading 24-15. The fresh legs responded with a 12-5 run that gave the Brown and White a 36-20 lead at the intermission. The Lehigh bench players outscored the North Florida bench 12-6 in the period, helping the Mountain Hawks take a 16-point advantage into the break.
Prosser led the way in the opening period, putting up seven points and adding three assists. Claire Sullivan stuffed the stat sheet as well in the first – despite not scoring a point – chipping in with four assists and four rebounds.
Lehigh jumped out to a slow start after taking the last nine days off for a holiday break, turning the ball over 10 times in the first half. But the Mountain Hawks were able to pull it together and come away with the 20-point win.
“The layoff was definitely a concern coming in,” Prosser said. “Teams don’t generally play a good game in the first one back, but coach (Troyan) made a big deal about focusing coming into this one.”
Lehigh dominated the rebounding battle throughout the game, pulling down 47 boards while the Ospreys grabbed just 32. Sullivan, Haly Crites and Kristen Dalton all registered six rebounds in the win. Sullivan and Prosser also chipped in on the passing game, adding five assists for the Mountain Hawks.
The Brown and White also showed its physical strength by swatting away six North Florida shots. Melissa Rich set a season high with three blocks and Alexa Williams added two more.
“There was a little rust left over from finals,” Troyan said. “But after we worked through some of that we were able to buckle down offensively and defensively.”
In the opening game of the Classic, La Salle knocked off Valparaiso, 67-62 to advance to the championship game. The Explorers only had six players register a point on the scoreboard, but four of those six put up double figures in the win. Margaret Elderton led the way with 18 points for La Salle, who moved to 8-5 on the season. The Explorers will meet Lehigh in the championship game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Lauren Kenny paced the Crusaders in a losing effort with 22 points and 14 rebounds as they drop to 4-5 on the year. Valparaiso will square off with North Florida in the consolation game of the tournament on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Tickets for the final day of the Christmas City Classic are still available and can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.
Fans that cannot make it out to Stabler Arena can listen to the Lehigh game live on 91.3 WLVR (FM) with Steve Lomangino and Robbie Aaron calling the action, or they can log on to Lehighsports.com for a free live video broadcast of both contests.
Buzzer beaters: Courtney Dentler made her second-consecutive start at forward for the Mountain Hawks…Alex Ross moved into a tie with Carli Toliver ’05 for second place in Lehigh school history with 158 made 3-point field goals…Lehigh’s record in the Christmas City Classic is now 12-11 after the victory over North Florida…Lehigh has now made it to nine Christmas City Classic championship games in school history.
Watch the Lehigh - North Florida Post-Game Show