Posted: December 3, 2005
TUCSON, Ariz. – Lehigh hung tough, but in the end Arizona pulled away for a 78-58 victory over the Mountain Hawks in the opening round of the Mission Management & Trust Fiesta Bowl Classic inside McKale Center on Saturday afternoon.
Lehigh junior captain Sara Ellis matched her career high with 26 points, and senior captain Jenny Callan recorded her third double-double, but it wasn’t enough for LU, who falls to 2-4.
The Wildcats (3-2) featured two twenty-plus point scorers in the win.
The host Wildcats came out strong, and Arizona quickly took a 10-1 advantage on a three-pointer from Joy Hollingsworth with 18:01 to go in the half. Lehigh collected itself, and the Mountain Hawks mounted a nine-nothing run of their own, to tie the game at 10-10 on a jumper from Sara Ellis at the 16:03 mark.
Down by two, Ellis sunk her second three of the half, giving Lehigh its first lead of the afternoon, at 13-12 with 14:14 to play.
The Wildcats rallied again, and a Natalie Jones three gave the home team a 33-24 lead. The Mountain Hawks refused to give in, closing the first stanza on a 9-3 run to close the gap to three.
Arizona led 36-33 at halftime. Ashley Whisonant and Jones each finished with eleven points to lead the Wildcats, who shot 50% from the floor (15-of-30).
Lehigh’s Ellis led all scorers with 16 first half points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 from long-range. Jenny Callan added ten points and six rebounds. Lehigh shot 48% from the floor in the first half, and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, but the Mountain Hawks were a disappointing 2-of-6 from the free throw line in the first half.
Early in the second, the Wildcats used a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach. Lehigh shot just 28% from the floor in the second half, and the Mountain Hawks committed 11 second half turnovers as Arizona pulled away.
Ellis connected on 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to lead the Mountain Hawks. Sophomore Claire Sullivan dished out a career high 12 assists and came away with four steals for LU. Callan scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.
Jones scored 22, and Whisonant added 21 for the Wildcats.
In all, Lehigh turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 31 Wildcats points.
“I thought we competed well in the first half,” said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. “[Arizona] controlled the tempo in the second half, and we made too many mistakes against such a good team.”
With the win, Arizona moves on to the championship game of the tournament, where the Wildcats will take on Chicago State, a 65-64 winner over Tulane earlier Saturday.
Lehigh returns to action on Sunday, as the Mountain Hawks will take on the Tulane Green Wave in the consolation game of the Mission Management & Trust Fiesta Bowl Classic. Game time is set for 3:00 pm EST, and the action can be heard live on WLVR-FM and lehighsports.com following the conclusion of the Lehigh men’s game at Cornell. That contest tips off at 1:00 pm EST.
Photo copyright 2005, Patti Ota.