Posted: March 5, 2004
Upper Marlboro, MD – Lehigh picked up its first ever win at The Show Place Arena in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament on Friday evening, with a 63-53 victory over Army. Junior Jessica DePalo led the offensive charge with 25 points and eight rebounds, while freshman Sara Ellis chipped in with three shots from beyond the arc en route to 13 points. With the victory Lehigh improves to 13-15 overall, while the Black Knights finish up their season at .500, 14-14.
Lehigh came out ice cold in the early going, as Army sprinted out to a 9-0 lead just minutes into the contest. However, the Mountain Hawks kept their cool and were able to fight back and trim away that lead. Army’s lead at the half was just six points at 35-29. DePalo poured in 12 first half points on five of 12 shooting, and also pulled down two boards. The Mountain Hawks shot just 36 percent from the floor, but forced 11 Army turnovers, which kept them in the game.
The second half was a seesaw affair with numerous ties and lead changes. Lehigh was dealt a serious blow when senior Jana Ransom fouled out with eight minutes remaining in the contest. But as she has all season, Head Coach Sue Troyan went to her bench, this time the call was to junior Chantal St. Laurent and freshman Adrienne Blount, and Lehigh never missed a step. Sophomore Jenny Calan also stepped up in the absence of Ransom with nine big rebounds, two assists and gritty defense. The Mountain Hawks used stifling defense to hold Patriot League Player of the Year Katie MacFarlane to only seven points on 2 of 11 shooting, while forcing 24 turnovers for the game.
Callan says that her and her teammates did not want to have an early vacation. “We didn’t want this to be our last game that we played with these seniors. We stepped it up and kept the season alive.”
Coach Troyan was pleased with the way her team responded after such a slow start. “We showed a lot of character in that second half, coming back the way we did.”
DePalo echoed the thoughts of her coach. “We really stuck to playing solid fundamental defense and believed in ourselves. We weren’t going to give up out there.”
Lehigh finished up shooting 38 percent from the field for the game, while Army connected on 39 percent of its shots. In addition to her 13 points, Ellis dished out a team high four assists for the game, while DePalo registered a game high three steals.
Lehigh, who swept the two regular season games from Army, also defeated the Black Knights for the first time in the postseason. Army had knocked Lehigh out of the postseason party in the first round in each of the last two seasons.
With the win, Lehigh advances to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 versus American. The Mountain Hawks split their two regular season games with the Eagles, with each team winning on the opponents' home floor. Sunday’s game can be heard live in the Lehigh Valley on 91.3 FM-WLVR and around the world on the Internet at lehighsports.com.