Posted: January 27, 2010
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Scoring has come from all different places for Lehigh this season and Wednesday night it came from the bench. The Mountain Hawks defeated Bucknell 69-47 at Stabler Arena to extend their home winning streak to 28 games. Lehigh received a season-high 43 points from its bench which included a career-high 22 for sophomore Emily Gratch. With the win the Mountain Hawks improve to 18-3 overall and 5-1 in league play. Bucknell falls to 6-13 on the season and 2-4 in league action.
“It’s been great having that kind of production from our bench,” head coach Sue Troyan said. “I would say our bench play is the strength of our program right now, we have three of four kids that can start at any Patriot League program. Kristen (Dalton) can play like that every night if she gets 25 minutes, but she has learned to accept her role and it’s great when a player like Alex (Ross) has an off night and we can go to our bench.”
With an 11-point lead at the half Lehigh kept pouring it on in the second, as the closest Bucknell would get is within 10. Gratch exploded in the second half scoring 12 of her 22 points in the first nine minutes of action. The Mountain Hawks closed out the game easily and had a 27-point lead with 3:51 left.
Lehigh once again had a strong defensive effort as it forced 26 turnovers, and out-rebounded the Bison 33-31. Wednesday night marked the second consecutive game that the Mountain Hawks have forced more than 25 turnovers.
“I thought our defensive effort was tremendous in the first half,” Troyan said. “We came out and put a lot of pressure on them and we were able to cause turnovers. We weren’t able to convert the turnovers into points in the first half but, I thought we did a much better job of it in the second.”
Troyan continued on the team’s strong defensive play since league games started. “Part of it is our non-league schedule, which really helped us prepare for what we’re seeing now. Our main focal point has always been to play strong defense and rebound. I’ve said all along that defense will win you championships.”
Dalton was another big contributor off the bench, as she finished with 12 points and a career-high seven assists. Senior Erica Prosser was the third Mountain Hawk in double figures (13) and she also added four assists. Thanks to a much better shooting effort in the second half (53%), Lehigh finished the game shooting 46 percent from the field. The Mountain Hawks attacked the Bison in the post as they had a season-high 46 points in the paint.
Bucknell was led by Sophomore Trisha Krewson who finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Junior Cosima Higham added 12 points, but could only collect four rebounds.
Both teams started the game off slow, but things quickly turned in Lehigh’s favor as it used a 15-0 run to build a 17-2 lead. The Bison finally ended the Brown and White run with a Felicia Mgbada free throw. The Mountain Hawks would go on to add to their lead and hold Bucknell without a field goal for a total of 9:12. Freshman Lindsay Horbatuck finally ended Bucknell’s drought with 9:37 left in the half with a layup. Bucknell clawed its way back into the game, but at the half Lehigh led 28-17.
The Mountain Hawks were led by Gratch and Dalton who both came off the bench to score 10 points apiece. Smith led Lehigh on the boards (4) and also had two steals. The Brown and White scored 20 of its 28 points in the paint and it won the battle of the boards 18-16. Lehigh finished the half shooting 38.7 percent and 28.6 from beyond the arc.
Bucknell was led by Higham who had six points and Krewson with four. The Bison shot 38 percent from the field, but failed to hit any three-pointers.
The Mountain Hawks will now look to extend their home winning streak against Holy Cross Saturday afternoon.
“They have great guards in Brianna McFadden and Bethany O’Dell,” Troyan said. “They’re well coached and have really been the gold standard of the league. They’re very guard oriented this year and we will have to look at that and make sure we approach it the same way with our post.
Lehigh will return to action on Saturday when it closes the first go around of Patriot League play against the Crusaders at 3:35 p.m. in Stabler Arena. Tickets are available in advance by calling 610-7LU-GAME or online at Lehighsports.com, and on game day at the Stabler Arena box office 60 minutes prior to tipoff.
Lehigh - Bucknell Post-Game Show