BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior co-captain Becky Guman set the pace for Lehigh after knocking down her first three treys en route to a career-high 18 points as the Mountain Hawks opened their Christmas City Classic play with a 67-37 victory over the Binghamton Bearcats inside Stabler Arena on Saturday evening. Along with Guman, sophomore Katie O’Reilly added 12 points in her first start of the 2012-13 season after starting 29 games last season.
"She’s (Guman) always been the type of player that is the driver, rebounder and does the little things right, but with Kelly (Peterson) out tonight I think she kind of thought to herself that she had to step up," said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. "She’s been shooting really well in practice so it’s nice to see her transition that into the game."
The Mountain Hawks exploded to start the game on a 7-0 run before the Bearcats got on the board at the 17:00 mark with a layup underneath the basket. The two points did not derail the attack as Lehigh continued on its run, pushing the score to 13-2 after a pair of three-pointers by Guman with 13:35 to play in the first half.
The Mountain Hawks poured on the points, opening up a 20-point lead at the 10:42 mark before a Binghamton free throw ended a 15-0 run. Lehigh’s lead reached as high as 23 in the first half after a layup by O’Reilly made the score 26-3.
A 6-0 run by the Bearcats cut the lead back down to 26-9, but the Mountain Hawks kept their foot on the gas and a fast break layup by freshman Kerry Kinek off a dish by senior Marybeth Egan pushed the score back to 28-9 with under six minutes to play before the break.
A 10-5 run by the Bearcats closed out the half as the Mountain Hawks entered the break with a 33-19 lead behind a career-high 12 points by Guman. The senior co-captain entered the game with three made three-pointers on the season, but knocked down her first three attempts from beyond the arc to start the night’s contest. She shot 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-5 from long range before the horn sounded to end the first half.
"I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym with our coaches working on my shooting and with Kelly (Peterson) out someone had to step up today and I’m glad I could have helped the team," said senior co-captain Becky Guman.
Lehigh shot 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from the field and 50.0 percent (4-of-8) from beyond the arc over the first 20 minutes, while outscoring Binghamton 12-4 on fast breaks and 16-12 in the paint. The Mountain Hawks were also 5-for-6 from the charity stripe as O’Reilly extended her streak to 11 consecutive free throws made with two in the first half.
The brown and white also held a slight edge in the rebounding facet with 22 to Binghamton’s 19. Egan entered the break just one assist shy of her season-high with five as another Lehigh player with a significant contribution to the team’s 14-point halftime lead.
The Mountain Hawks started the second half just as the first half, scoring the first four points out of the break after layups by O’Reilly and Kinek made the score 37-19. Lehigh held a 17-point lead at the 15:35 mark after O’Reilly’s jumper made her the second Mountain Hawk in double-digits on the evening with her 10th point.
Another trey from Guman opened up Lehigh’s second 20-point lead of the evening at 49-29 in the second half. The Mountain Hawks continued on an 18-6 run to push the lead to as high as 32 at 67-35 after a pair of foul shots by freshman Elizabeth Jordan concluded the scoring for the Mountain Hawks.
As the final horn sounded, Lehigh earned its fifth win of the season and extended its winning streak to six over the Bearcats. The victory was also Lehigh’s ninth consecutive first round win of the Christmas City Classic.
O’Reilly’s 12 points put her in double-digits for the third consecutive game, as she is averaging 13.7 ppg over those three games. She also finished the game 4-for-4 from the foul line, extending her streak to 13 consecutive made free throws. Egan dished out a season-high eight helpers in the win, eclipsing her previous high of six set against La Salle.
"I think putting Katie (O’Reilly) in the line-up tonight helped our defense out and even though we lost a little because of not having Kelly’s (Peterson) perimeter shooting, we gained some things on the defensive end," said Troyan.
As a team, the Mountain Hawks shot 43.9 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe. One of the biggest factors in the game was Lehigh’s paint play as the brown and white outscored Binghamton 34-18 inside, including 11 points from Kinek.
The Mountain Hawks will conclude the Classic with a 4:30 p.m. tip tomorrow evening against the Boston University Terriers who were winners over Fairleigh Dickinson earlier in the day, 68-42.