Upper Marlboro, MD – Senior Cat Nicholson set the Lehigh record for career three point field goals, but Lehigh could not stop Army in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament by a final of 78-70 at The Show Place Arena. The loss brings the Mountain Hawks final record to 12-15, while Army improves to 14-15.
Sophomore forward Jessica DePalo scored Lehigh’s first four points of the game, as the Mountain Hawks controlled the action in the early going, leading by as many as eight points. The Black Knights battled back however, using a 19-6 run to take a 26-21 lead. Lehigh clawed back with a Cat Nicholson three and a jumper from fellow senior Anne Tierney, but it was not enough as Army entered halftime with a 30-28 lead. Nicholson’s hit from downtown gave her 144 for her career, which tied the school record set from 1991-95 by Mary Beth Bedics.
DePalo scored six points on 3-3 shooting in the half, but was hampered by an ankle injury. Junior forward Jana Ransom matched her with six points, as well as four rebounds. The Lehigh defense held first team All-Patriot League selection Katie Macfarlane to just 2-of-9 shooting in the first 20 minutes, but the forward did manage to clear the backboards for eight rebounds.
In the second half Lehigh trailed 38-31, when Tierney connected from behind the arc with a turnaround as the shot clock wound down. The Mountain Hawks would get as close as one point when junior Carli Toliver connected on back to back threes with 11:55 remaining and it appeared as if Lehigh was ready to seize advantage. Lehigh then suffered through a long dry spell where it went scoreless for over four minutes, which gave Army the opportunity to increase its lead to double figures. Lehigh fought its way back into the game, and trailed by only six with just under one minute left, but the Mountain Hawks were forced to foul down the stretch and the Black Knights built the lead back to a 78-70 final.
"We didn’t do a great job rebounding the ball," head coach Sue Troyan said. "Army took advantage of some second chance opportunities."
Ransom added 11 more points in the second half, to lead Lehigh with 17 on the game and grabbed five rebounds. In her final game at Lehigh, Tierney finished with nine points and five rebounds. Nicholson had a very solid game in last appearance in a Lehigh uniform, pouring in 14 points - including four shots from downtown - in surpassing Bedics as Lehigh's all-time three point field goals leader. Senior Billi Ford dished out a career high eight assists and also collected two points.
"It wasn’t a matter of confidence," said senior captain Anne Tierney. "Army played a good game inside."
For Army, Macfarlane finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way.
Lehigh played without the services of starting point guard and Patriot League Rookie of the Year Dawn Gorynski, who was unable to play due to injury.
The loss ends Lehigh’s season. The Mountain Hawks completed the 2002-03 season with a record of 12-15 overall and 9-5 in Patriot League action.