BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (7-7) fell 71-49 to Richmond (12-2) Friday in the final game of the Christmas City Classic. The Mountain Hawks were led by freshman Katie O’Reilly who had a team-high 12 points and added seven rebounds while senior Emily Gratch had 10 points and nine rebounds. Lehigh kept it close in the first half, but was unable to overcome a tough shooting second half.
“I thought they made a good adjustment going to zone in the second half and we just weren’t hitting any of our shots,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We were playing right with them in the first half and got great looks. We’ve come a long way since the start of the season and we’ve improved a lot over the last three or four weeks.”
Lehigh finished the game shooting 26.7 percent from the floor including 7-for-25 from behind the arc while Richmond shot 41 percent and 5-for-18 from three. Lehigh was outrebounded 46-44 but the Mountain Hawks had the slight edge on the offensive glass 15-12. One of the big differences however was Richmond’s 30 points off Lehigh’s 24 turnovers compared to Lehigh’s 11 points off Richmond’s 15 turnovers. Richmond also outscored Lehigh 26-14 in the paint.
Four minutes into the game, Lehigh was trilling 9-6 while O’Reilly had four points in the early going to lead the way. The Mountain Hawks then stepped up the defensive pressure, forcing three straight turnovers and four in five possessions. Lehigh took advantage to take a 16-15 lead with 11:27 left.
After Richmond went on a 4-0 run to take a 19-16 lead, Lehigh came storming back with a 10-2 run thanks to a pair of threes from senior Aly Byorick as the Mountain Hawks took a 26-21 lead with 6:27 to go.
Lehigh then cooled from the outside while Richmond went on a 12-0 run to take a 33-26 lead with 2:45 left. Senior Alexa Williams ended the run with a made free throw but the Mountain Hawks managed just two points for the final 2:29.
The Mountain Hawks trailed 37-29 at halftime. Lehigh shot 27 percent from the field including 3-for-11 from behind the arc while Richmond shot 41 percent and 1-for-5 from three. Richmond held a small edge on the glass, outrebounding Lehigh 25-23. Lehigh turned the ball over 11 times while forcing eight Richmond turnovers. The Mountain Hawks were 8-for-12 from the free-throw line while Richmond was 8-for-8.
O’Reilly led the way through the first 20 minutes with eight points and four rebounds while Williams and Byorick had six a piece.
Richmond started the second half where it left off as the Spiders jumped out to a 10-2 run out of the break. Down 47-31 with 16:34, Lehigh looked to start up a run of its own as sophomore Hilary Weaver hit a three to cut the deficit to 13. The Mountain Hawks had a few possessions to cut into the lead even further but were unable to take advantage as Richmond went on a 7-0 run to take a 54-34 lead with 14:42.
Lehigh struggled offensively as Richmond continued to extend its lead while the Mountain Hawks were unable to cut the deficit to under 16 for the remainder of the game as Richmond outscored Lehigh 34-20 in the second half.
Along with O’Reilly and Gratch, Williams, Byorick and Weaver finished with six points apiece. Williams added six rebounds and two blocks while Weaver added six assists.
Richmond was led by Abby Oliver’s 21 points, six assists and four rebounds while Becca Wann added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Gratch was named to the All-Tournament team along with Oliver and Wann. Those three were joined by James Madison’s Tarik Hislop and Rhode Island’s Ashley Rivera. Wann was named the Tournament MVP.
In the earlier game, James Madison defeated Rhode Island 77-42.
Friday’s loss snaps Lehigh’s five-game winning streak and is the Mountain Hawks’ first loss in the month of December (19-0) since December 2nd, 2009 at Princeton.
It was Lehigh’s final non-conference game of the season as the Mountain Hawks will return to the court on Saturday, January 7th at 2 p.m. when Lehigh hosts Holy Cross to kick off Patriot League play.