WORCESTER, Mass. - The fifth-seeded Lehigh women’s basketball team fought back from a 15-point first-half deficit, but couldn’t pull any closer than three as #4 Holy Cross defeated the Mountain Hawks 64-59 in the Patriot League Quarterfinals on Thursday evening. Lehigh had several chances in the second half to pull within a single possession, but the Crusaders continued to have an answer. Freshman Kerry Kinek scored a game-high 18 points while senior Becky Guman chipped in with 12.
“It’s been consistent with this team all year long. You can’t question the effort and how much they give,” said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. “They never quit. Give Holy Cross a lot of credit too. Every time we made a run, they responded. They hit big shots.”
“It was a hard-fought game. Both teams left it all out on the floor tonight.”
Kinek was 7-of-14 from the field while adding 10 rebounds for her sixth-career double-double. Guman posted six rebounds, three assists and four steals of her own. Sophomore Sarah Williams was a spark in the second half, scoring eight points including a pair of big three-pointers.
Alex Smith led Holy Cross with 16 points while Amy Lepley added 15.
“Defensively, we really tightened it up in the second half,” said Troyan. “We played tough defense, especially the first five minutes. We had some great looks at the basket, but couldn’t knock them down. That could have been the difference in the game. I thought the first seven or eight looks we got were really nice looks, but we couldn’t knock them down.”
Kinek knocked down a short jumper on the game’s first possession to get Lehigh off to the fast start, but Holy Cross scored eight of the next 12 points to take an 8-6 lead following a Brisje Malone three-pointer with 16:40 on the clock.
A Lindsay Hoskins layup tied the score at eight, but Holy Cross answered with a 15-0 run which began with a three-point play then two straight treys from Ashley Cooper forcing Troyan to call timeout down 17-8. The Crusaders scored the next six to extend their run to 15-0, but junior Alexandra Yantzi knocked down a jumper to break a six-minute scoreless drought.
Senior Marybeth Egan found Guman ahead on the fast break to pull Lehigh within eight at 25-17 with 5:22 on the clock. Guman finished a three-point play with just over two minutes later to pull the Mountain Hawks within seven (31-24) with 2:01 remaining. Holy Cross answered with the next four, but sophomore Elizabeth Sharlow had a big offensive rebound and putback as the first-half clock expired to pull Lehigh within 35-26 after 20 minutes of play.
Lehigh shot 41 percent from the field (11-of-27) but did not hit a three-pointer (0-of-8). Holy Cross came in at 45 percent (13-of-29) and 36 percent from long range (4-of-11). The Mountain Hawks held the rebounding edge, 17-15. Kinek led Lehigh with 10 first-half points while Alex Smith led the Crusaders with nine.
A pair of Molly Mourigan free throws gave Holy Cross a 41-30 lead, but Lehigh scored the next five. Sarah Williams knocked down a three, Lehigh’s first of the game, to pull the Mountain Hawks within six (41-35) with 11:41 remaining. However, the Crusaders answered with consecutive threes, by Smith and Lepley to quickly make their lead 12 again at 47-35.
Lehigh wouldn’t go away as Williams made another three to pull within 47-40 then a Guman driving layup made it 47-42. Junior Hilary Weaver knocked down a pair of free throws to pull the Mountain Hawks back within five (49-44), but Holy Cross went on a 9-3 run to extend its lead back to 58-47.
Down 11 with just over two minutes remaining, Lehigh wouldn’t go quietly as Weaver converted a three-point play, Guman hit a pair of free throws and Weaver finished a layup for a 7-0 Lehigh run to pull within 58-54 with 47 seconds remaining. Senior Kelly Peterson hit a three with six seconds remaining to pull within 62-59, but Smith hit both her free throws to seal the 64-59 final.
Lehigh shot 37 percent from the field (21-of-57), but just 14 percent from three-point range (3-of-22). Holy Cross came in at 34 percent (18-of-53) and 32 percent from long distance (7-of-22). The Mountain Hawks held a 38-36 edge on the glass.
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