STORRS, Conn. – Senior Courtney Dentler matched her career high with 20 points, and Lehigh hung tough with SEC member LSU, but in the end the Tigers proved too strong, dealing the Mountain Hawks their third straight loss, 74-63 Friday evening at the World Vision Challenge at Gampel Pavilion. Lehigh trailed by 11 but matched LSU in points in the second half, creeping as close as three points with just under 13 minutes to play.
Adrienne Webb led LSU with 18 points and ten rebounds as the Tigers shot 48 percent from the field for the game. Lehigh shot 36 percent from the field as the Mountain Hawks were done-in by an 8-for-30 (26.7%) first half performance.
“I thought we competed really hard,” said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. “We got a lot of good looks around the basket but didn’t finish as well as we had been. We executed really well on the offensive end but our shots weren’t falling.”
Lehigh (1-4) led 6-1 early and 9-6 at the first media timeout before the Tigers found their groove. The teams took turns putting together runs, with LSU (3-3) taking the lead for good with on a Webb three-pointer with 7:06 to play in the first half. The Tigers held a 20-4 advantage in bench points through the first 20 minutes, and a Courtney Jones jumper in the final seconds gave LSU a 39-28 lead at the break.
The Mountain Hawks scored the first four points of the second half on layups by junior Emily Gratch and sophomore Becky Guman as Lehigh stood toe-to-toe with LSU throughout the second half. Down by ten with 14 minutes to play, Lehigh put together a 7-0 run on a pair of free throws from senior Erica Prosser, a three-pointer from senior Kristen Dalton, and a layup by Dentler which brought the Brown and White within three.
LSU responded with a 9-0 run of its own. With just under five minutes to play a pair of Dentler free throws brought Lehigh back within four points, but once again the Tigers came up with key buckets to protect their lead.
“They (LSU) are a tough team,” Troyan explained. “I thought we executed pretty well. We did a good job reading the defense. We took the looks they gave us and had good balance on the inside and outside. Courtney Dentler stepped up with a big game. She played tough, which is what you want to see from a senior. LSU is a very good team and they’ll be strong in the SEC. Despite the loss, tonight’s game will make us a better team.”
Gratch added 12 points and a team-best eight rebounds for Lehigh, while Prosser chipped in 11 points and five assists. The Mountain Hawks shot 8-of-17 (47.1%) from three point land and took care of business at the free throw line, converting 15-of-17 (88.2%).
LSU also had three players reach double figures, with Jones contributing 16 points and Katherine Graham adding 12. The Tigers out-rebounded Lehigh 38-32, with Webb’s double-double leading the way.
The Mountain Hawks will face another tough test on Saturday as they continue action at the World Vision Challenge. Lehigh will face top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Connecticut at 7:30 p.m. The Huskies carry an 81-game winning streak into their game against Howard on Friday night. Saturday’s Lehigh-UConn tilt can be heard on WLVR-FM (91.3) as well as online at Lehighsports.com with pregame coverage beginning at 7:15.