BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Princeton jumped out to the early lead and wouldn’t look back, on its way to a 69-52 win over the Lehigh women’s basketball team on Sunday, ending the Mountain Hawks’ (1-2) 33-game home winning streak. The loss snapped the nation’s third longest home streak, while handing Lehigh its first defeat at Stabler Arena since Feb. 23, 2008.
“I thought we were flat for a majority of the game,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “Princeton’s a really good team. I felt like we just went through the motions and weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be.”
The Tigers’ win marked their second over Lehigh in as many seasons after handing the Mountain Hawks one of their three regular season losses last year.
Junior Emily Gratch led the way offensively with 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Senior Erica Prosser added 11 points and seven assists, just three shy of her career-high. Junior Aly Byorick added a career-high nine points as well behind a trio of three pointers.
Lehigh fell into a quick 9-2 deficit only 4:26 into the game, but the Mountain Hawks answered back with a 12-2 run to forge ahead by three. Gratch’s second straight layup gave Lehigh the 14-11 advantage with 11:53 on the clock.
The Mountain Hawks opened as much as a 17-13 advantage after a Byorick three-point with 10:48 to go, but the Tigers responded by scoring 20 of the game’s next 25 points to open the game’s first double-digit advantage at 33-22 with 4:01 left in the first half.
Princeton pulled ahead by 14, but Lehigh responded with the final four points of the half, all on free throws, to pull within 38-28 heading into the locker room.
The Tigers opened a 45-30 lead early in the second half, but Lehigh cut the deficit to 47-36 with 15:36 still to go. The Mountain Hawks then had three possessions to pull within single digits, but came up empty each time. Princeton took advantage, slowly building its lead back to as much as 22 (61-39) with 7:34 to go in the second half. Lehigh then staged a mini 8-0 run behind a Prosser three-pointer, Gratch layup and Prosser old-fashioned three-point play to pull within 61-47 with 5:55 on the clock.
Princeton erased any doubt, however, rebuilding an 18-point lead before holding on for the 69-52 final.
“Getting the ball inside was a point of emphasis, but we forced it too much, which led to turnovers,” said Troyan.
Lehigh shot 41 percent (19-of-46) from the field and 36 percent (8-of-22) from three-point range, while Princeton finished at 43 percent (29-of-67) and 50 percent (7-of-14) from long range. The Tigers controlled the boards, 43-28.
“We put together a challenging schedule to see how we’d respond,” said Troyan. “There are lessons to be learned from a loss to a team like Princeton. Regardless of our record, we can come out of [these challenging games] a better team.”
The Mountain Hawks continue one of their busiest and most challenging stretches of the season this week, playing four more games over the next seven days. They return to action on Tuesday at Villanova, before heading to UConn for the World Vision Challenge, hosted by the Huskies. There, they will face LSU, No. 1 UConn and Howard on consecutive days. Lehigh’s next home game is Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 12 p.m. against Saint Joseph’s. Tickets for all home games are now on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610) 7LU-GAME.