STORRS, Conn. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team showed some strong flashes on Saturday night at No. 1 Connecticut, but the Huskies (5-0) proved to be too much in downing the Mountain Hawks (1-5) by an 81-38 final on Saturday evening. Lehigh hung right with UConn at times, including seven minute stretches in both the first and second halves in which it played the Huskies even.
The win improved Connecticut’s record winning streak to 83 games. Its last loss came during the 2008 Final Four.
“They’re very good,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “I thought our kids competed and played hard, but they’re an outstanding team.
“Our point of emphasis going in was to make sure we got better and I thought we did that in some areas,” she continued. “They’re a very, very strong team and don’t have many weaknesses. It was a good experience for us, which we can learn a lot from.”
Lehigh saw seven different players post three points or more. Junior Aly Byorick led the way with eight on 3-of-4 shooting while senior Erica Prosser added seven and junior Emily Gratch chipped in with six. Freshman Hillary Weaver set a career-high with five points on 2-of-4 shooting. Fourteen Mountain Hawks saw action against the two-time defending national champions.
All-American Maya Moore led the UConn offense with 29 points while three others reached double figures as well. Lehigh held the Huskies to their third fewest points all season, this for a team that has averaged 84 points per contest.
The Mountain Hawks hung even with UConn in the opening minutes as a Byorick three-pointer pulled them within 6-5, only two minutes into the first half. A Prosser layup made it 11-7 in favor of UConn, but the Huskies answered with a 12-0 run over the next 5:18 to open a 23-7 advantage.
Weaver ended the run with a big three-pointer to make it 23-10 with 11:37 on the first half clock.
Connecticut scored the next six to make it 29-10, but the resilient Mountain Hawks continued to claw back, staging a 7-0 run of their own to pull within 29-17 with 7:11 to go in the first half.
In the end, Lehigh played the Huskies even for a stretch of 6:56 in the first half which saw each side score seven points. Connecticut proved too much, however, pulling ahead by a 44-19 count at the half.
“They do a great job,” said Troyan. “They’re athletic, smart and very well coached. They make a lot of plays and force you into mistakes.”
The Huskies eventually opened up their largest lead at 72-29 with 6:57 left in the second half, but Lehigh once again fought back to play them even down the stretch and keep the margin where it was. One highlight came around the five minute mark when the Mountain Hawks scored on three straight possessions. Byorick began by hitting a three-pointer with 5:46 on the clock, then a layup with 5:07 to go. Prosser followed with a jumper on the following possession to pull Lehigh within 76-38 with 4:13 remaining.
Both teams struggled down the stretch, which saw only three UConn points scored over the final 3:52, good for the 81-38 final.
Lehigh shot 32 percent (15-of-47) from the floor and 31 percent (5-of-16) from three-point range, while UConn finished 53 percent (32-of-60) and 38 percent (6-of-16) from long range. The Huskies owned the rebounding edge, 40-21. Lehigh did force 13 turnovers, but had 21 of its own.
The Mountain Hawks round out their weekend at the World Vision Challenge on Sunday afternoon against Howard. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. They will then return home to host Saint Joseph’s in a special 12 p.m. tip-off on Wednesday. They stay home on Saturday to host Binghamton at 5 p.m. as part of a basketball doubleheader with the men’s team. 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.
“Tomorrow is an important game to get,” said Troyan. “This weekend has been good. We’ve learned a lot, [but] we need to come out strong tomorrow and get the win.”