PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Lehigh (0-2) fell to Saint Joseph’s (1-1) Sunday afternoon 66-48 despite a great second-half effort from the Mountain Hawks. Trailing by 17 at halftime, Lehigh showed no quit as it cut the deficit to 10 but were unable to make a final push. The Mountain Hawks were led by a trio of players in double digits as senior Alexa Williams led the way with 14 points while sophomore Hilary Weaver added 11 and junior Sarah Pearce had 10.
“We played very well in the second half," said head coach Sue Troyan. “We fought hard and I definitely saw improvement from the first game. Our execution was better in the second half and we just have to gain experience and use every opportunity and every game to get better.”
After struggling in the first half, Lehigh put together a more complete second half as the Mountain Hawks shot 42 percent from the field in the second half and 31 percent for the game. Saint Joseph’s shot 42 percent from the field including 43 percent from behind the arc.
Lehigh couldn’t get the ball to drop from behind the arc, however, as it went 3-for-13 including 1-for-5 in a second half in which the Mountain Hawks had a couple of open looks at three that would have cut the deficit to single digits.
In the early going, team’s exchanged baskets until Saint Joseph’s started to pull away with a 13-2 run to take a 22-9 lead with 8:41 to go in the first half. Twice in the first half, Lehigh went seven minutes without a field goal as the Mountain Hawks trailed 36-19 at halftime.
Lehigh was getting open looks, but couldn’t get shots to drop as the Mountain Hawks shot 17 percent (4-for-24) in the first half including 2-for-8 from behind the arc while Saint Joseph’s shot 41 percent (15-for-36) including 4-for-9 from three. The Hawks not onyl used the three to build their lead, but Lehigh was outscored 14-2 in the paint in the first half and 28-14 for the game.
Pearce and Williams both had six points in the half. Williams was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line as Lehigh went 9-for-10 from the charity stripe in the first half and finished the game 17-for-22.
Lehigh picked up its defensive intensity out of the break which led to some quick baskets as the Mountain Hawks cut the deficit to 42-32 with 15:07 to go thanks to a Weaver three followed by a Williams layup. But Saint Joseph’s responded with a quick 5-0 run of its own to extend the lead back to 14 with 12:28 to go.
Despite a great second-half effort that included nine points from Weaver, the Mountain Hawks couldn’t get over the hump and make a big run as Saint Joseph’s seemed to have the answer every time.
The Hawks led by 12 with nine minutes to go and used a 7-2 run to keep Lehigh at a comfortable distance for the remainder of the game.
Williams added seven rebounds and went 8-for-10 from the free throw line as she led Lehigh for the second-straight game offensively.
Saint Joseph’s was led by Katie Kuester who had 14 points while Michelle Baker added 13.
Lehigh hasn’t started a season 0-2 since it lost its first two games in the 2002-03 season but the Mountain Hawks turned it around to finish 13-14 including 10-5 in the Patriot League.
The Mountain Hawks will look to turn things around as they take the court next at Sacred Heart on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Lehigh and Sacred Heart have met six times in history with Lehigh owning a 4-2 edge in the overall series. The two school’s last met on November 25th, 2008 in Connecticut when Lehigh held on for a 77-75 win.