PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team kicked off its 2011-12 campaign Friday afternoon and despite a game-high 16 points and nine rebounds from senior Alexa Williams, the Mountain Hawks (0-1, 0-0 PL) were unable to overcome an early deficit as they fell 63-43 to La Salle (1-0, 0-0 A-10). After scoring just four points in the first half, Williams exploded for 12 in the second half. She also went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“There were some good things, Alexa had a real nice second half,” said head coach Sue Troyan, who is in her 17th season at Lehigh. “It was pretty typical of a young team as we turned the ball over a lot. We cleaned that up better in the second half though. We got a lot of open looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. If we can hit those we might have been able to close the gap a little.”
Along with Williams, junior Kelly Peterson added eight points while junior Sarah Pearce and freshman Sarah O’Reilly had seven points each.
Lehigh got off to a quick start in the first half scoring the game’s first five points thanks to a layup from O’Reilly – her first collegiate points - and a three pointer from Pearce. La Salle came right back on a 10-0 run, but the Mountain Hawks stopped the bleeding thanks to a pair of threes from Peterson.
Then La Salle upped its defensive pressure and Lehigh struggled offensively going scoreless for a little over five minutes in the middle of the first half as the Explorers extended its lead to 16. The Mountain Hawks trailed 37-24 at the half.
The Mountain Hawks outrebounded La Salle 23-19 in that opening half but where Lehigh really hindered itself was with 15 first-half turnovers, eight coming from steals while the Explorers’ had just four turnovers. Lehigh did a better job in the second half, finishing the game with 23 turnovers.
After La Salle scored two straight baskets to start the second half, Lehigh showed no quit going on a quick 6-0 run thanks to a pair of baskets by Williams and a layup by Pearce to cut the lead to 41-30 with 16:06 to go.
The Mountain Hawks tightened up its defense as they held La Salle without a field goal for almost four minutes early in the second half but Lehigh was unable to take advantage as La Salle’s lead ballooned to 49-33 with 11:45 to go in the game.
After going 3-for-6 from behind the arc in the first half, the Mountain Hawks were 0-for-12 in the second half from three as they were unable to cut the deficit to single digits. Lehigh went without a field goal for almost eight minutes as La Salle’s lead blossomed to a game-high 20.
The Mountain Hawks shot 22.2 percent from the field while La Salle shot 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc. Lehigh was almost flawless from the free-throw line as the Mountain Hawks were 12-for-14 while La Salle was 6-for-13 from the charity stripe.
La Salle was led by Jada Payne who had a team-high 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting while Jordan Mosley added 12 points and Nadia Duncan had 10 points.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak against La Salle.
Lehigh will look to rebound on Sunday when it takes on its second A-10 team of the weekend in St. Joseph’s at 2 p.m. It will mark the 11th meeting between the two schools as the Hawks hold an 8-2 all-time edge. The teams most recently met last season when Lehigh won 46-40 at Stabler Arena.