Posted: 12/20/2012 | Last updated: December 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team clawed back from a halftime deficit, but Sacred Heart used a late second-half run to pull away as the Mountain Hawks fell 73-63 Thursday at Stabler Arena. A lay-up by senior Becky Guman tied the game at 56 with just under six minutes to play but the Pioneers outscored the Mountain Hawks 17-7 over the final 5:58 to earn the victory.
Kiley Evans led the way for the Pioneers finishing with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Senior Kelly Peterson and sophomore Katie O’Reilly paced the Lehigh offense with 16 and 13 points, respectively. The loss drops Lehigh’s record to 4-6 overall while Sacred Heart improves to 6-4.
“Sacred Heart is a very good team,” said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. “We knew that coming in. They’ll be one of the top teams in their conference. Evans is a good player and shot the lights out. We didn’t have an answer for them. Give them credit; they made buckets.”
Freshman Kerry Kinek posted nine points and nine rebounds while Guman and junior Hilary Weaver added seven points apiece. Guman also added a career-high seven assists while Weaver had five helpers.
Three-pointers from Kinek and Weaver gave Lehigh an early 6-0 advantage less than three minutes into the game. Sacred Heart got on the board behind a Morgan Merriman layup with 16:04 remaining in the first. The run extended to 5-0 following an Ericka Norman basket less than a minute later.
Lehigh quickly answered with six straight points, using threes from Weaver and Kelly Peterson to make it 12-5 with 14:13 on the clock. The Pioneers responded with seven straight to pull even at 12 with 13:01 to go, holding the Mountain Hawks scoreless for 2:46 in the process.
The sides went back and forth over the ensuing minutes, which saw three ties (at 14, 16 and 18). A Kinek jumper and Guman layup gave Lehigh a 22-18 lead with 7:46 on the clock, but Sacred Heart responded in a big way. The Pioneers went on a 15-1 run over the next 4:40 capped off by a Kiley Evans trey to make it 33-23 with 3:58 on the clock.
Kinek ended the drought with a pair of free throws with 3:06 remaining. That sparked Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks ended the half on a 9-2 run which included a Peterson layup and Kinek jumper in the final minute.
Kinek led the way with nine first-half points while Peterson and Weaver each added six to pace the offense. The Mountain Hawks shot 43 percent from the field (12-of-28) and 45 percent from three-point range (5-of-11) to Sacred Heart’s 39 percent (12-of-31) and 45 percent (5-of-11), respectively. Evans scored 12 first-half points to lead the Pioneers.
The Mountain Hawks carried the momentum into the second half as Kinek found junior Lindsay Hoskins for a layup to make it 35-34. The Pioneers scored four of the next six points, but a Guman trey made it 39-39 with 17:16 on the clock, the game’s first tie since 18-18.
Sacred Heart responded with four straight, but Peterson came right back with a three to pull within 43-42. The Pioneers answered with six in a row before a Yantzi jumper made it 49-44 with 12:21 on the clock. Lehigh extended the run to 11-2 as a Peterson trey, her fourth of the evening, made it 52-51 with 10:11 remaining. It marked the Mountain Hawks’ first lead since 23-21.
Guman’s layup tied the game at 56, but Evans’ fourth three pointer of the night sparked a 9-0 run as the Pioneers lead grew to 65-56 on an Enjoli Bland layup with 3:32 remaining.
“They had the answer,” said Troyan. “We got down then clawed our way back in, but Evans had an answer for them. Good players do that and they answered the call each time. Give Sacred Heart credit, they played a great game.”
Freshman Elizabeth Sharlow ended Lehigh’s 3:21 scoreless drought with a pair of free throws with 2:37 remaining to bring Lehigh within seven, but Evans’ fifth three pointer of the night re-established a ten point Pioneer lead and Lehigh would not get closer than eight points on an O’Reilly layup in the final seconds.
Lehigh shot 43 percent for the field from the game, including 8-of-21 (38 percent) from beyond the three point arc. The Mountain Hawks were plagued by 21 turnovers in their first game after a 12-day break for final exams, with the Pioneers scoring 28 points off those turnovers. Sacred Heart shot 44 percent from the field and only turned the ball over nine times. Lehigh won the rebounding battle 40-33.
The Mountain Hawks will now be off until December 29-30 when they host the Christmas City Classic at Stabler Arena. Lehigh will face Binghamton on Saturday December 29 and Boston University on Sunday December 30 with tip-off both days set for just after 4:30 p.m. Fairleigh Dickinson is the fourth team participating in the classic. Tickets to the Christmas City Classic can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.