Bethlehem, PA — Behind the strong performance of junior Cat Nicholson and clutch shooting of sophomore Carli Toliver, Lehigh squeaked out a 60-58 victory over Army Saturday night at Stabler Arena. Nicholson was a torrid 7-of-9 from three-point land and finished with a career-high 27 points and four rebounds, while Toliver ended up with 14 points and 5 assists, including the game winning free throws. She finished 6-6 from the charity stripe. Sophomore Katie Macfarlane led Army with 14 points and three rebounds.
The win improves the Mountain Hawks to 6-2 in the Patriot League (10-11 overall), while the setback drops the Black Knights to 3-5 in league play, and 8-13 overall. Lehigh’s win keeps the Mountain Hawks in a three-way tie for first with Holy Cross and Bucknell, who both won road games Saturday.
The Mountain Hawks started the game off hot hitting on their first four shots. Nicholson scored Lehigh’s first seven points and Toliver responded by scoring the next five, but Army held a 17-14 lead midway through the first half thanks to two early three pointers by Haley Edwards. Macfarlane also had a strong first half scoring eight points to lead Army to a 30-25 first half lead.
Army opened the second half with a 10-5 run capped by a nice spin move by Macfarlane to build its lead to 40-30. Nicholson remained hot as she hit her next three shots including two three pointers and again Toliver followed with a three to cut the Black Knights’ lead to four. Army responded with a Rejera Arnold three to go up 51-44 with 5:54 to play. The Mountain Hawks came right back with a Teniece Johnson jumper and Nicholson nailed a three from the top of the arc and cut Army’s lead to two at 51-49. Then, on what looked like an identical play to the one before, Nicholson hit another three, much to the delight of the crowd at Stabler Arena and Lehigh took the lead 52-51. Following two Macfarlane free throws, Anne Tierney converted a three-point play to put Lehigh up 55-53. Macfarlane responded one more time with two free throws, but Toliver nailed a jumper to put Lehigh up 57-55. Arnold came right back and nailed a three and Army once again regained the lead. Moments later during a fight for a rebound, Toliver was fouled and went to the line with Lehigh down one. She calmly nailed both free throws to put Lehigh up 59-58, this time for good.
"What can I say about Cat," Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan pondered following the narrow victory. "She saved us this game and kept us where we needed to be. This was a big win."
Tierney had a solid night finishing with 8 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists, and Arnold contributed 12 points for the Black Knights.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks travel to Colgate. Game time is scheduled for 5:30.