Posted: December 30, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the second straight year Lehigh fell in the championship game of the Christmas City Classic on a last second three-pointer. This year it was Safi Mojidi who hit the shot with nine seconds remaining in the game to give Rhode Island a 50-47 victory. The win drops Lehigh’s record to 6-7, while the Rams improve to 7-6.
“We thought coming in this was going to be a game that came down to the wire,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “They were a scrappy team and I have to give them credit on that last shot. They had the look they wanted and connected on it.”
Rhode Island controlled the game in the first half, taking the lead on the first basket and did not give it up, leading 22-19 at halftime. Both teams struggled to find the net, with Lehigh shooting just .227 and the Rams not fairing much better, taking a .385 shooting percentage into the break.
Alex Ross led all scorers with eight points, including two three-pointers. Tricia Smith added four rebounds for the Mountain Hawks, who were out-rebounded 19-16, in the half.
Tanja Licina led the Rams with seven points and Sierra Cooper also contributed with six points and two rebounds.
The play in the paint proved to be the big difference, with Rhode Island scoring 12 of its points down low, while Lehigh only managed to get four points in the paint.
Both teams warmed up in the second half and Lehigh took its first lead of the game at 13:41, with a layup by Erica Prosser. The teams traded points for the rest of the half, with neither team taking a lead larger than five points.
The Mountain Hawks were able to take a lead late when Smith made a layup while getting fouled, with 2:26 remaining. She made her free throw attempt to give Lehigh a 45-44 lead. The Brown and White increased its advantage to 47-45, when Melissa Rich made her first field goal of the game, with 1:49 to play.
However, the Rams would not go away as Lindsay Harris mad her only field goal of the game, on a layup with 50 seconds remaining to tie the game at 47-47. On the Mountain Hawks next possession, Ross had a chance to take the lead back, but her jumper did not fall and Licina came up with a defensive rebound with 35 seconds to play.
The Rams used as much time as they could on their final possession, as Mojidi hit her shot with four seconds left on the shot clock. Lehigh had one last look, but Ross’ three-point attempt hit the back iron as time expired.
“We had the look we wanted but they were defending Alex very closely and she just couldn’t get it to fall,” said Troyan of the final shot attempt.
Ross ended with a game high 14 points, including four three-pointers, which moved her into the top-ten all-time at Lehigh. Pearce added nine points and four rebounds and Smith finished with seven points and six rebounds.
Licinia had a team high 12 points for the Rams and Cooper ended with 10 points and six rebounds. Rhode Island dominated in the paint again in the second half, and out-scored the Mountain Hawks 24-14 for the game.
After the game, Cooper was named MVP of the tournament, as she finished with a two game average of 11.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. Both Pearce and Ross were named to the all-tournament team, along with Mojidi, Natalie Bonds (Brown) and Kristen Jeter (Stony Brook).
In the consolation game, Stony Brook defeated Brown, 64-52, with five different players in double digits. The Seawolves’ Dana Ferraro and Brown’s Karly Grace each had a game high 12 points.
Lehigh will return on Thursday when it travels to Yale for a 7 p.m. game. Jeff Tourial will call the action on 91.3 WLVR-FM in the Lehigh Valley and around the world on Lehighpsorts.com, with streaming provided by Yahoo! Sports.