Posted: January 12, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the first Patriot League game of the season for Lehigh and American, defense dominated from start to finish, as Lehigh won the game 55-37 at Bender Arena on Saturday afternoon. Alex Ross had a game high 11 points, including three three-pointers, and Kaela Pearce chipped in with 10 points, eight of which came in the second half. The win gives Lehigh its first league win, improving to 9-7 overall, while the Eagles fall to 6-10, and 0-1 in league play.
“Give our kids credit, they came out with the fire and intensity that you need during league play,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said on the post game show. “Defensively we did not allow American to do anything within their comfort zone, particularly in the first half.” She added, “This was a tremendous effort for a team of kids that really know their roles. They shared the ball they played together and everyone gave a great effort today.”
The Eagles struck first on a three point play by Stephanie N’Garsanet, who made her free throw after getting fouled by Haly Crites on her field goal attempt. Lehigh answered back with nine straight points, to take a 9-3 lead, and let the defense take over the rest of the half, holding American scoreless for the final 8:47, taking a 20-9 led at halftime.
The nine points allowed in the first half was a season low for the Brown and White, holding the Eagles to just 13% shooting and three total field goals. The Mountain Hawks got their scoring from a wide range of sources, with seven different players recording field goals. Ross was the only player to sink more than one shot in the half, as she drained two three-pointers for a team high six points.
“We have great balance on this team, so even if someone comes out and misses the first couple of shots, we have so many other players on this team that can pick up the slack,” Ross explained. “Our focus everyday in practice is defense and we know that defense wins games, so today we really focused on that.”
The second half started the same as the first, as American scored the first four points, but Lehigh once again answered back, outscoring the Eagles 11-1 over the next eight minutes, to take a 31-14 lead with 11:53 remaining. In that stretch, Lehigh received three-pointers from Ross and Kaela Pearce.
The teams played evenly over the final 11 minutes, as Lehigh outscored American 24-23, but the large halftime deficit proved to be too much, as the Brown and White won the game 55-37. The 37 points allowed was the lowest since the second game of the season, when Lehigh gave up 33 points to Fordham.
Tricia Smith had another solid performance on offense and defense, scoring seven points and adding six rebounds plus a career-high six steals. Erica Prosser added nine points, shooting five-of-six from the free-throw line, and Melissa Rich chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The defense did a great job all game of shutting down American’s Liz Hayes, the league’s second leading scorer coming into the game; she finished with just three points, 11 points below her season average. Pam Stanfield and Ashley Yencho each had a team high seven points.
Lehigh will be back in action on Wednesday when it welcomes Navy to Stabler Arena for the first time 2008. The game will be broadcast live on Service Electric 2 Sports with Mike Zambelli calling the play-by-play and Jim Wills providing color commentary. The game can also be heard live in the Lehigh Valley on 91.3 WLVR-FM and around the world on Lehighsports.com, with streaming provided by Yahoo! Sports. Steve Lomangino and Ryan Chadwick will call the action, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.