BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Behind junior Kelly Peterson’s career-high 16 points and a complete team effort, the Lehigh women’s basketball team (4-6) won its second-straight game defeating Loyola (Md.) (3-4) 70-60 Monday night. The Mountain Hawks shot a season-high 47 percent from the field including 54 percent in the first half as nine different Lehigh players scored in the victory.
“I thought it was a complete team effort,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We really played unselfish basketball and found the open person. We took good shots and it was definitely our best offensive game of the year.”
Lehigh shot 44 percent from behind the arc including 6-for-12 in the second half as the Mountain Hawks used a 9-0 run early in the second half to extend a 10-point lead to 19 with 13:52 to go in the game as Lehigh’s advantage never dipped below 10 in the second half.
Eleven of Peterson’s 16 points came in the second half as she finished the game 5-for-11 from the field including 4-for-8 from three. Peterson added five rebounds while senior Aly Byorick had nine points on a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc while senior Emily Gratch had a complete game of eight points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Mountain Hawks did a great job of distributing the ball as 20 of Lehigh’s 24 field goals were assisted. Junior Becky Guman, Gratch and senior Alexa Williams accounted for 12 of those 20 assists.
Lehigh not only had a stellar game on offense, but the Mountain Hawks forced Loyola to shoot 31 percent from the field including 29 percent in the first half. Lehigh also outrebounded Loyola 42-30.
Lehigh played one of its best halves of the season as the Mountain Hawks came out of the gate on fire as they built up a 16-4 lead with 12:14 to go. Lehigh continued to push its lead as it held a 21-9 edge and its largest lead of the half at 25-11 with 4:40 left.
Loyola then went on a 10-2 run to cut Lehigh’s lead to six with 2:07 to go but the Mountain Hawks immediately responded with a 7-2 run to end the half. Lehigh led 35-23 at the break as the Mountain Hawks were 14-for-26 from the floor while holding Loyola to 10-for-34. Of Lehigh’s 14 field goals, 13 were assisted while the Mountain Hawks outrebounded Loyola 26-11.
Lehigh had eight different Mountain Hawks score in the first half led by freshman Katie O’Reilly and Gratch who both had six points while Williams added five points and six rebounds.
The Mountain Hawks continued in the second half right where they left as Lehigh continued to find the open player and knock down buckets. The Mountain Hawks went on a 6-1 run over 1:30 to take a 55-35 lead with 10 minutes to go.
Loyola attempted to make a comeback as the Greyhounds went on a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to 13 with 1:44 to go. But Peterson hit two clutch free throws to extend the lead back to 15 and junior Sarah Pearce added a free throw to put the game out of reach.
The win was Lehigh’s fourth straight over Loyola as the Mountain Hawks improved to 33-19 against MAAC opponents and 2-0 this season.
Loyola was led by Miriam McKenzie’s 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Monday’s game was the first of six straight at home for Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks will return to the court Wednesday at 5 p.m. to host NJIT.