Posted: February 7, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lehigh dropped just its second league game of the season in Washington D.C. Saturday, as the American Eagles used a strong second half to put the Mountain Hawks away, 65-56, in Bender Arena.
Three Mountain Hawks scored in double figures in the losing effort, with Erica Prosser leading the way with 14 points. Alex Ross scored 11 points and Courtney Molinaro chipped in with 10 off the bench as Lehigh dropped to 17-6 on the season. The Mountain Hawks are now tied with American for the top spot in the Patriot League with a 6-2 record in league play, with each team earning a win in the season series. The Eagles improve to 16-7 overall with the win.
Molinaro also pulled down nine rebounds in the game to lead the Mountain Hawks in the loss.
“Courtney’s really coming into her own right now,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. “She was a little late getting her role developed this season, but I thought she played a really nice game today and was strong on the boards for us. I think she can be a factor for us in the second half of the season.”
Four Eagles scored in double figures, including Pam Stanfield, who put up 13 points, five assists and four rebounds in the win.
The Mountain Hawks shot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half, but still trailed by five heading into the break. Alex Ross led all Lehigh scorers with nine points in the period – thanks to three triples – followed closely by Erica Prosser with eight. Courtney Molinaro put up six points and added four boards to lead all rebounders at halftime.
But offense wasn’t the problem for the Mountain Hawks in the first, as they allowed American to shoot almost nearly as well – 42.9 percent from the field – and gave up seven offensive rebounds. The Eagles benefitted from eight second-chance points in the first, as opposed to just two for the Mountain Hawks.
“We had a tough time shutting them down in the first 10 minutes of the game,” Troyan said. “They just had the edge on us in offensive rebounds and intensity level. I thought we adjusted in the last few minutes of the first half but it was a little disappointing.”
Michelle Kirk paced the Eagles in the first with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting and 2-for-3 from downtown. Kirk buried a three with 3:57 left in the period to extend American’s lead to 34-23, its largest lead of the half.
Lehigh battled back before the halftime buzzer, cutting the lead back to just five points at the end of the first. The Mountain Hawks finished on an 8-2 run to claw back to within 36-31 at halftime.
American answered back with a 13-2 run to open up the second half. The run gave the Eagles a 16-point lead, and it looked like Lehigh was falling out of the game quickly.
“The first four or five minutes of the second half they came out again and extended the lead,” Troyan said. “To their credit I thought they really played a nice game. They didn’t give us anything easy on the offensive end.”
American would go on to shoot 50 percent from the field in the second half, while holding Lehigh to just 26.7 percent shooting in the period. The Eagles also continued to dominate on the glass, pulling down 23 rebounds to just 16 for the Mountain Hawks in the second.
But the Brown and White answered with a 3-pointer from Tricia Smith and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Erica Prosser to claw back to just a 49-39 deficit.
The Mountain Hawks continued their slow comeback when Courtney Dentler’s three was off the mark with just more than 11 minutes remaining and Lehigh trailing, 53-43. Alexa Williams pulled down the key offensive rebound and put it back in as she was fouled. After the free throw, Lehigh pulled back within seven points for the first time since early in the second half.
Once again the Eagles had an answer. A 3-pointer by Talicia Jackson extended the lead back into double digits, and a jumper by Liz Leer on the next possession put American back up 60-48, and forced Lehigh to call timeout with 7:22 remaining.
The Eagles were able to use the clock to their advantage as Lehigh was forced to foul and send American to the line in the closing minutes. Up by seven with less than a minute to play, Lisa Strack put the exclamation point on the American win by stealing the ball and going coast to coast for the layup to guarantee the Lehigh comeback would fall short.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks host the Navy Midshipmen at Stabler Arena at 7:05 p.m. Lehigh prevailed in the first meeting between the schools with a 66-63 overtime win in Annapolis on Jan. 14.
Buzzer beaters: Saturday’s game was televised nationally on ESPNU – the second time Lehigh has played a game on the station, after the Brown and White beat Army on ESPNU on Feb. 16, 2008…Lehigh lost for the first time this season in a televised game after winning the first four locally televised contests…The Mountain Hawks wore pink warmup t-shirts for Saturday’s game with an inverted breast cancer ribbon in honor of legendary N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who passed away last month after a long battle with cancer.
Mountain Hawks Basketball Post-Game Extra with Jeff Tourial