BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (15-12, 8-5 PL) never trailed against Navy (14-13, 7-6 PL) Wednesday en route to a 57-48 victory. With the win, Lehigh clinched at least a #3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and guaranteed the Mountain Hawks a home quarterfinal game. Lehigh was led by senior Alexa Williams’ double-double of 13 points and season-high 14 rebounds while junior Kelly Peterson added a game-high 14 points.
“It was a big win for us and it’s important to keep in the hunt for a second seed and a chance at a pair of home Patriot League Tournament games,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “Our seniors stepped up tonight and Alexa was monstrous inside, rebounding and finishing around the basket. We got a lot of great contributions.”
Holding a two-point lead at halftime, Lehigh came out of the second half and slowly built its lead up to 12 with 7:30 to go in the game. Navy didn’t go away however as the Mids cut Lehigh’s lead to just five with 1:40 left but Lehigh’s defense came up strong, holding Navy without a point for that final 1:40 en route to victory.
Lehigh’s home quarterfinal game will be Thursday, March 1st. You can purchase your tickets here: http://bit.ly/xwJpQK
The Mountain Hawks finished the game shooting 43 percent (23-of-53) from the field including 29 percent (4-of-14) from behind the arc while Navy shot 35 percent (19-of-54) and 25 percent (4-of-16) from three. The Mountain Hawks had 16 assists and 14 turnovers while Navy had 11 assists and 15 turnovers. Both teams took advantage of its opportunities at the free-throw line as Lehigh went 7-of-9 and was Navy 6-of-7. Lehigh outrebounded Navy 35-33.
Lehigh started the game on fire, building a 13-9 lead with 11:57 left on 60 percent shooting. The Mountain Hawks then went on a 4-0 run to extend its lead to 17-11 with 7:50 to go. The teams traded buckets until Navy went on a 7-3 run to close the half including a basket at the buzzer as Lehigh led 26-24 at halftime.
Lehigh shot 46 percent from the field including 3-of-9 from behind the arc while Navy shot 36 percent and 2-of-7 from three. The Mountain Hawks had eight assists on their 11 field goals. Lehigh turned the ball over seven times while forcing six Navy turnovers. Lehigh was outrebounded 17-15 including 4-1 on the offensive glass, but the difference in the half was Lehigh’s inside game as the Mountain Hawks held a 16-6 edge on points in the paint.
The Mountain Hawks were led by Peterson’s 10 points while Williams added four points and six rebounds. Gratch had four points and three assists.
Lehigh came out of the break on a 9-2 run to build a 35-26 lead three minutes into the second half. The Mountain Hawks continued to keep the Mids at a distance as Lehigh’s lead stayed at least seven points for a 15-minute stretch.
The Mountain Hawks led 53-44 with 3:33 left and then Navy scored four straight to cut Lehigh’s lead to five with 1:40 to go but that would be Navy’s final points of the game as the Mountain Hawks forced a couple key turnovers and hit their free throws late.
Lehigh’s starters accounted for 48 of Lehigh’s 57 points. Williams’ 13 points came on 6-of-12 shooting and with her 14 rebounds, Williams now has 755 which moved her into sole possession of #15 all-time in the Patriot League. She is now 13 away from being #14 league history and just five away from being #3 all-time at Lehigh, which is currently held by Karen Lelinski (1976-80).
Peterson’s 14 points came on 6-of-14 from the field including 2-of-5 from behind the arc as she has led Lehigh in scoring for the third straight game. Junior Marybeth Egan had a career-high four assists and played a career-high 24 minutes.
Navy was led by 11 points from Erin Edwards.
With the win, Lehigh improved to 26-21 all-time vs. Navy including winning nine of the last 10 games. The Mountain Hawks swept the season series with the Mids as Lehigh won the first meeting 50-46 on Jan. 25.
Lehigh will take the court for its regular-season finale Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as the Mountain Hawks host Army. A win gives Lehigh the #2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament which means the Mountain Hawks will also host a semifinal game. A loss and the Mountain Hawks will be the #3 seed in the Tournament.
More than just about Patriot League Tournament seeding, Saturday’s game will be Lehigh’s senior night as well as its Play 4 Kay Game in which the Mountain Hawks will raise funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. For every fan in attendance, $1 will be donated to breast cancer research and will be presented in remembrance of Debbie Pearsall.