Posted: March 8, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. – After dropping two games to Lafayette during the regular season, Lehigh got its chance to avenge those loses, and it made the most of it, coming away with a 62-51 win over the Leopards in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Tournament at Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y. Erica Prosser and Alex Ross each scored a game high 16 points for the Mountain Hawks, who improve to 18-12 on the year.
“I thought we played well on both sides of the ball all night,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “[Starting Ross] gave us a huge boost early from an offensive standpoint, and we executed well in transition.”
The Mountain Hawks got on the board first on a jump shot by Tricia Smith, just 30 seconds into the game. Lehigh expanded its lead to 8-3, with 16:21 to play. Prosser scored four of those points, two of which came after she made a nice steal that led to an easy breakaway layup.
The Brown and White built upon its lead after a deep three-pointer from Ross made the score 13-5. The Leopards answered back, and cut their deficit to five, 15-10, after a three-pointer by Vanessa Van De Venter, with 11:21 remaining. Another field goal by Van De Venter and the Mountain Hawks led was down to just three points.
Lehigh was able to get a seven point lead back, after Ross nailed another three-pointer and was fouled by LaKeisha Wright on the play. She hit her foul shot, and the Brown and White had a 23-16 lead with 7:11 to play. The Mountain Hawks made it a 10-point led after a pair of nice layups from Prosser and Ross made the score 31-21 with 1:28 left in the half.
Meghan Malone scored four points with under a minute remaining to cut the score to 33-27, but a jumper by Prosser with just four seconds left on the clock sent Lehigh into halftime with a 35-27 lead.
The Lehigh defense forced pressure on the Leopards all half, forcing 11 turnovers and holding Lafayette to just 36 percent shooting from the field. The Mountain Hawks capitalized on great free throw shooting, hitting all nine of their attempts, while also sinking 42.9 percent of their field goal attempts.
Ross had a half high 11 points, while Prosser and Smith each added 10 points. Smith also contributed with seven points, and was a perfect six-for-six from the foul line. Van De Venter led Lafayette with 11 points and five boards.
The Leopards started the second half with a field goal by Jessica Spicer, but Lehigh rolled off seven straight points, capped off by a three-pointer by Prosser, to take a 42-30 lead with 16:32 to play.
Lehigh got its 10-point lead back after Courtney Dentler hit a miraculous three-pointer, heaving the ball at the net as time expired on the shot clock. Lafayette quickly closed the gap after that shot, scoring nine straight points to make the score 45-43 with 8:40 to play.
The defense took over for the next three plus minutes, as neither team made a shot, but Haly Crites broke that streak, putting in a pair of layups, giving the Mountain Hawks a 51-43 lead with 5:24 remaining.
Ross and Smith hit back-to-back three-pointers and Lehigh had a 57-45 lead with just under two and a half minutes to play. The Brown and White maintained its lead for the rest of the game, and came away with the win.
Smith ended just short of a double-double, with 14 points and a game high nine rebounds. She also added a game high four steals and three assists.
“We didn’t get caught up in the rivalry tonight, but instead stuck to our game plan,” Smith said after the game.
Smith added on the frontcourt foul trouble, “I just want to help the team however I can, so if that means banging around with the posts inside, then I’m excited for the challenge.”
Lehigh shot 40.4 percent from the field and 82.4 percent from the charity stripe, while holding Lafayette to just 38.8 percent shooting.
Van De Venter led the Leopards with 15 points and six points.
No. 3 Lehigh will face-off against No. 2 Holy Cross in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. The Crusaders took both games during the regular season, including a 62-55 win in the regular season finale last weekend. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. from Christl Arena.