EMMITSBURG, Md. – Four Mountain Hawks broke double digits in points, while junior Hilary Weaver paced the attack with 19 of her own in the 66-57 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday night. Lehigh answered every Mount run and used clutch free throw shooting to hold off several Mount St. Mary’s comebacks for its sixth win of the season.
"I thought we did what we had to do at the end to secure the game," said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. "We made foul shots down the stretch. It wasn’t our best in terms of taking care of the basketball on the offensive end, but I thought our defense kept us in the game, caused a lot of turnovers. It was an ugly game, but we played well enough to win."
The Mountain Hawks showcased a strong defense to begin the game, deflecting several Mount St. Mary’s passes and causing three turnovers by the Mount in the early going. Sophomore Katie O’Reilly got Lehigh on the board with the first two brown and white buckets.
A somewhat sloppy beginning saw seven turnovers on each side before the halfway mark of the first half. After holding the Mountain Hawks scoreless for nearly three minutes, the Mount was able to take a 15-13 lead, but that was erased shortly thereafter with a long jumper by freshman Kerry Kinek and a fast break layup off a turnover by Weaver as Lehigh grabbed a 17-15 advantage at the 7:29 mark.
The Mountain Hawks outscored the Mount 9-7 over the remainder of the half to take a 26-22 lead into the break. Lehigh shot 34.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. The two teams combined for 30 turnovers over the first 20 minutes which led to 12 Lehigh points. Weaver was Lehigh’s leading scorer at the half with seven points, while O’Reilly, junior Lindsay Hoskins and junior Alexandra Yantzi chipped in with four apiece.
Lehigh entered the half with an 18-12 advantage in the rebounding game including four from senior Becky Guman, but were outscored 14-12 in the paint. A closely played first half saw five ties and five lead changes before the clock hit zero.
After forcing two Mount turnovers in the first two minutes of the second half, the Mountain Hawks were able to open up an eight-point lead at 34-28 with 18:05 remaining. After the lead was cut down to just three, Guman completed a hoop and harm to bump the Lehigh advantage back to six before Weaver drilled her second trey for a nine-point lead at 40-31.
The Mountain Hawks’ lead was cut back down to just one at 43-42 with10:51 on the clock, but Weaver stopped the 11-3 run with a pair of free throws to give Lehigh a three-point advantage. After the Mount knotted the game at 48 apiece, Jessie Kaufman drained a three to put Mount St. Mary’s up 51-48 with 8:04 on the clock, prompting a Lehigh timeout. Out of the break, Kinek hit a jumper and after an offensive foul, Lehigh retook the lead with another bucket, this time under the basket, by the 6-3 freshman.
Two clutch free throws from O’Reilly pushed the lead back to three points at 54-51, but the Mount answered again with a bucket in the paint at the five minute mark to cut the advantage back down to one.
Kinek again came through for Lehigh, converting a bucket below the basket and connecting on the following free throw to complete the three-point play and bump the lead back to four at 57-53 entering the final media timeout with 3:38 on the clock.
The Mountain Hawks withstood the small run by Mount St. Mary’s to hang on for a 66-57 victory after finishing the game with free throws, earning their sixth victory of the season.
"Going into league play, you’ll see a lot of games like this," said Troyan. "There’s a lot of parity in the league. It’s going to be important for us to do the little things."
Lehigh shot 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from long range, but the Mountain Hawks excelled from the line, hitting 23-of-28 free throws (82 percent) which proved to be a major factor in the win.
Weaver led the offense with a game-high 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting and a 9-of-10 effort from the line, finishing just one point shy of her career-high. Along with Weaver, three other Mountain Hawks eclipsed double digits with Kinek adding 12, Guman with 11 and O’Reilly with 10. Kinek narrowly missed her fourth double-double of the season, finishing just one rebound shy of the mark, while Guman added eight of her own and also knocked down 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.
"She (Weaver) had a great game for us," said Troyan. "I’m pretty hard on her, but she played really well. It was nice to see her hit some perimeter shots, shot the ball well from the foul line, was impressive getting to the line. She did a lot of nice things for us."
The Mountain Hawks will return to the court on Saturday, January 5 when they travel to face off against NJIT at 2 p.m. before concluding the non-league portion of their schedule with an 11:30 a.m. tip against Columbia on January 7 for Education Day at Stabler Arena.
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