BETHLEHEM, Pa. – It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but Lehigh will take it. Senior Erica Prosser scored 16 points to lead the Mountain Hawks to a 46-40 win over Saint Joseph’s Wednesday afternoon in front of 2,015 on Education Day at Stabler Arena. With some 1,500 area school children in attendance, Lehigh bounced back from a 12-point first half to win its second straight game as the Mountain Hawks improve to 3-5 on the season.
“We talked about the face that two weeks ago, it’s a game we might have lost,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “It shows the growth of the program. Games at Pittsburgh and UConn have helped us start to learn how to win.”
Lehigh and Saint Joseph’s were locked in a defensive struggle, with the visiting Hawks shooting 28 percent from the floor for the game, while the Brown and White shot just 27 percent. The Mountain Hawks turned the ball over 24 times, while Saint Joseph’s committed 18 turnovers.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first half, combing for only 26 points heading into the locker room. The Mountain Hawks shot only 18 percent (4-for-22) over the first 20 minutes, while Saint Joseph’s shot at a 21 percent (6-for-29) clip.
Lehigh took an early 2-0 lead off a pair of free throws from junior Emily Gratch, but Saint Joe’s answered with eight of the next 10 points to open up an 8-4 lead with 15:20 to go. Gratch then ended a long 4:50 scoreless drought with a layup to pull within 8-6 with 10:30 remaining. The teams traded baskets the rest of the way, with two free throws from sophomore Becky Guman with less than a minute to go pulling the Mountain Hawks within 14-12 at the break.
Gratch opened the second half with a layup to tie the game at 14. The game would be tied four more times in the second half, before Lehigh took the lead for good on a Prosser free throw with 6:41 to play. Twelve of Prosser’s 16 points came after halftime including six points from the free throw line. Two Prosser free throws gave Lehigh its largest lead at 40-32 before Saint Joseph’s began chipping away.
Ashley Prim cut Lehigh’s lead to just two with a layup with 31 seconds remaining, but Prosser drilled two more free throws to extend the lead to 44-40 and after a missed three-pointer by Erin Shields, junior Aly Byorick added an insurance layup in the final seconds.
Gratch added eight points for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh out-rebounded Saint Joseph’s, 46-39, with senior Courtney Dentler pulling down a career-high 11 boards and junior Alexa Williams adding nine. Michelle Baker led Saint Joseph’s with 17 points.
“This is a significant win against a good Atlantic 10 team, who will likely finish in the top half of the A-10,” said Troyan. “Beating a good team out of the A-10 isn’t just a win today, but also big for the program [down the road].”
The Mountain Hawks remain at Stabler Arena for their second straight home game when they host Binghamton on Saturday at 5 p.m. as part of a basketball doubleheader with the men’s team. They then hit the road to face Saint Peter’s and NJIT next Tuesday and Thursday before rounding out their pre-holiday schedule on Saturday (Dec. 11) against Wagner. 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.