STORRS, Conn. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team broke a 13-13 tie late in the first half by scoring 43 of the game’s final 59 points on their way to a convincing 56-29 win over Howard in its final game at the World Vision Challenge on Sunday. The 29 points given up mark the fewest the Mountain Hawks (2-5) have allowed since the 1980-81 season when they topped Franklin & Marshall by a 55-28 final.
The Mountain Hawks outscored the Bison in the second half, 37-13, after a sluggish start led to only a 19-16 advantage after 20 minutes.
“That was a good second half,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We woke up from a first half which was pretty lethargic. The intensity definitely increased in the second half [which led to] a good win.”
Sunday’s game came less than 17 hours after playing UConn, the nation’s top team. It also marked Lehigh’s third game in as many days and fifth in the span of eight days.
“I think we got everything out of this tournament that we were hoping to,” said Troyan. “We thought we could get one win, hopefully two. We competed really hard and learned a lot of lessons for league play. [This weekend should] really help us as a program get where we want to be.”
Senior Courtney Dentler enjoyed her second stellar game of the tournament, finishing with 17 points, just three shy of her career-high which she tied on Friday against LSU. She finished 4-for-5 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line, while also adding seven rebounds.
Junior Emily Gratch added eight points and seven assists while senior Erica Prosser chipped in with seven along with five assists and four steals. All 15 players, who were dressed saw action, including freshmen Hilary Weaver, Marisa Repasch and Alexandra Yantzi.
A slow start saw only 26 total points scored over the game’s first 16:50, including one stretch of 4:14 when no points were scored on either side. Dentler led the way with seven of Lehigh’s 19 first-half points.
With 3:10 to go in the first half, junior Aly Byorick broke a 13-13 tie with a three-pointer to give Lehigh the lead, an advantage it would hold onto – and build – the rest of the way.
The Mountain Hawks came out strong out of the locker room, staging a 9-0 run to open a 28-16 lead. Dentler added five more points in the first 3:07, which included a layup and made three-pointer, on her only attempt of the afternoon.
Lehigh continued to build on its lead, opening its first 20-point advantage following a Weaver made three-pointer to make it 40-20 with 9:27 left in the second half. The Mountain Hawks continued the momentum, eventually going up by 30 (56-26) with 44 seconds to go before Howard hit a three-pointer on its final possession for the 56-29 final.
The Mountain Hawks bounced back from a tough shooting start to finish 35 percent (19-of-54) for the game, 24 percent (5-of-21) from three-point range. Howard finished at 24 percent (11-of-45) and 21 percent (3-of-14) from behind the arc.
Lehigh now returns home to host Saint Joseph’s in a special 12 p.m. tip-off on Wednesday. The Mountain Hawks then stay at Stabler Arena 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.