BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After building a five-point first half lead, the Lehigh women’s basketball team fell to Monmouth, 55-50, in double overtime on Sunday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks had opportunities to win the game at the buzzer at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but were unable to convert as the Hawks scored 11 points in the final extra session for the victory.
"Today’s game was hard-fought," said head coach Sue Troyan. "These two teams came out playing hard and defended very well. We didn’t execute on the offensive end and turnovers really hurt us today, but our defensive effort was tremendous. Our offense has to get better, but I think it will in time."
The Mountain Hawks came out of the gates on a 6-0 run and after a lay-up by freshman Kerry Kinek, forcing Monmouth to burn an early first half timeout with 18:10 on the clock. The Hawks eventually climbed their way back into the game, knotting the contest at eight points apiece. From there, Lehigh was able to grab a six-point lead at 16-10 when sophomore Sarah Williams was able to find the bottom of the basket with a lay-up courtesy of an assist by senior Becky Guman. Lehigh opened up its largest lead of the half at eight points (20-12) when Kinek knocked down a jumper at the 5:07 mark, but entered the break leading by five at 20-15 after a free throw and a jumper by the Hawks.
After the first 20 minutes, Kinek led all scorers with eight points and five rebounds over 16 minutes on the floor, while Williams had five points at the half. The Mountain Hawks shot 36.0 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from three-point land entering the break. Lehigh outscored Monmouth 12-10 in the paint, 4-0 on fast breaks and 8-3 off the bench despite turning the ball over five more times (13-8).
The Hawks began the second half on a 5-0 run, but junior Lindsay Hoskins was able to bank in a jumper in the paint to push Lehigh’s lead back to four at 22-18. The Hawks then took 15 of the next 28 points to pull within two at 35-33 with 9:02 remaining in regulation. Monmouth continued to claw its way back and eventually grabbed a 39-38 lead with just over four minutes to play. The Hawks’ lead reached as large as three as the score flashed 41-38, but after free throws by Kinek and sophomore Katie O’Reilly, Lehigh knotted the game at 41 apiece with 59 seconds to play in regulation. The score would not change as Lehigh had the last possession of regulation, but was unable to convert and the game was sent into overtime.
The Mountain Hawks shot 13.6 percent from the floor in the second half, as Monmouth was able to shoot at a 40.0 percent clip to erase Lehigh’s five-point halftime lead. Lehigh made the only trey in the second half as the teams combined to go 1-12 from long range in the final 20 minutes. Free throws were the strength of Lehigh in the second half as the brown and white went 14-for-16 from the charity stripe after not taking a foul shot in the first half.
In the first overtime, Monmouth took the lead just over two minutes in, but a long three pointer by senior Kelly Peterson gave the Mountain Hawks a one-point edge with 2:16 to play. The score would remain the same until with just 26 seconds on the clock, the Hawks were able to draw a Lehigh foul in the paint and sent Abigail Martin to the charity stripe. The Lehigh faithful tried its best to rattle the forward, but after missing the first, she was able to knock down the back end of her set of free shots to tie the game once again at 44. The Mountain Hawks again had the final possession with a chance to win the game, but a baseline jumper did not find the bottom of the basket as the horn sounded.
The Hawks began the second extra session by hitting the front end of a pair of free throws with just under four minutes to play to take a 45-44 lead. Monmouth proceeded to go on a 5-0 run to open up its largest lead of the afternoon at six points, 50-44. The Mountain Hawks tried their best to chip away at the score, but Monmouth never let Lehigh get any closer than five points. As the final horn sounded, the Hawks escaped Stabler Arena with a hard-fought 55-50 win over Lehigh.
"Three of our five games have been single possession games at the end of regulation and that’s good experience and gives us something to get better at," said Troyan. "We had a couple of possessions that we could have pulled ahead and put the pressure on them, but didn’t get great shots and that’s what we can get better from and learn from."
The Mountain Hawks shot 28.6 percent from the field in the two overtime sessions, but made just one three-pointer and did not attempt a foul shot over the 10 extra minutes. For the game, Lehigh’s bench outscored Monmouth’s 19-17, but the Hawks scored eight more points in the paint than Lehigh (28-20) and were +18 in points off of turnovers (24-6).
Lehigh did not surrender its lead in the first half, but over the final 30 minutes the two teams were knotted three times and the score changed five times during Monmouth’s rally.
The Mountain Hawks will be back in action when they take to the court in Philadelphia on Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m. for a match-up with the Villanova Wildcats before traveling to Baltimore, Md. to take on Loyola on December 3. Lehigh will return home on December 6 when it plays host to Fairfield at 7 p.m. under the Stabler Arena lights.
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