Posted: 02/11/2012 | Last updated: February 11, 2012 at 11:06 PM
HAMILTON, N.Y. – After trailing by as many as 16 points, the Lehigh women’s basketball team (13-11, 6-4 PL) cut the deficit to three with 2:20 left in the game but were unable to get over the hump as Lehigh fell 77-71 at Colgate (6-19, 3-7 PL) Saturday. Lehigh was led by a career-high 27 points from senior Alexa Williams, who tied her career high of 10 made field goals, while senior Emily Gratch had a season-high 22 points.
“We dug ourselves in a hole in the first half, but we fought back,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “Colgate made shots when they needed to and had a lot of open looks, especially in that first half. Alexa and Emily are giving us everything they have; it’s a tough loss but there are still plenty of games left.”
Lehigh trailed by double figures for most of the game until the Mountain Hawks used a 21-10 run in the second half over a seven and a half minute stretch. Junior Kelly Peterson capped off the run with a three pointer as Lehigh trailed 71-68 with 2:20 left in the game.
Lehigh came up empty on several offensive possessions over the final two minutes as the Mountain Hawks managed just one made free throw in the final minute of the game.
Lehigh shot 43 percent (23-of-54) from the floor and stayed in the game thanks to an 11-point differential at the free-throw line (Lehigh was 22-of-28, Colgate went 11-of-14). The Raiders shot 44 percent including 50 percent on the floor. After going 6-of-9 from behind the arc to build a lead in the first half, Lehigh stepped up its perimeter defense, holding Colgate to 0-of-4 from behind the arc in the second half. The Mountain Hawks were outrebounded 40-30 including 13-5 on the offensive glass.
Lehigh came out of the gates quickly, getting out to an 8-2 start four minutes into the game, forcing Colgate to call a timeout. Williams had four points to lead the way in the early going while Gratch and O’Reilly each had a pair of fast-break layups.
Colgate then caught fire, going on a 15-2 run as Lehigh trailed 17-10 with 13:11 left. Lehigh cut the deficit to three before the Raiders went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 27-16 with 7:13 to go.
O’Reilly ended the run with a pair of free throws and Gratch made a layup shortly after for Lehigh’s first basket in five and a half minutes as Lehigh trailed 32-22 with 3:38 to go.
The Raiders went on a quick 6-0 run after a pair of threes but freshman Katie O’Reilly responded with a three of her own and Williams added a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 38-27 with 1:25 to go.
O’Reilly added another free throw to make it a 6-0 run to end the half as Lehigh trailed 38-28 at the break.
The Mountain Hawks shot 40 percent (11-of-27) in the opening half and were 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Colgate also shot 40 percent (15-of-38) but shot 66 percent from three (6-of-9) while Lehigh was just 1-of-7 from behind the arc. Lehigh was outrebounded 20-16 including 7-1 on the offensive glass.
Lehigh was sparked by Williams and Gratch in the first 20 minutes. Each had 10 points and Williams added five rebounds. O’Reilly was the only other Mountain Hawk in the scoring column as she had eight points. Those three players accounted for all of Lehigh’s first-half points, combining to go 11-of-16 from the field.
Lehigh which trailed by as many as 16 points in the opening half is no stranger to comebacks as the Mountain Hawks overcame a 16-point deficit at Navy, an 18-point deficit at Army and trailed by 13 late in the second half at Holy Cross.
The teams exchanged baskets out of the half as Lehigh trailed 50-38 with 14:20 left as Williams had six second-half points for the Mountain Hawks.
Weaver hit a three from the corner for Lehigh’s first field goal in three minutes to cut the deficit to 58-47 with 10:30 left. Williams added a layup shortly after and Peterson hit a jumper, but Colgate had an answer on the other every time.
Lehigh finally started to put together a run as the Mountain Hawks scored six straight to trail 63-55 with 7:45 left in the game. It was the first time Lehigh had cut the deficit to single digits since the 7:54 mark in the first half.
The Mountain Hawks put together another run, this time scoring five straight to trail 65-60 with 6:32 left. The teams continued to go back and forth as Lehigh trailed 69-63 with 3:55 to go in the game.
After a Williams layup, Peterson nailed a three from the corner to cut the deficit to 71-68 with 2:15 left, the closest the Mountain Hawks had been since 19-16 halfway through the first half.
After Lehigh turned Colgate over, the Mountain Hawks came up empty on their possession and Colgate responded with a layup.
After Gratch hit a pair of free throws, Colgate hit a runner with the shot clock expiring, as Lehigh trailed 75-70 with 28 seconds left.
After a missed jumper, senior Aly Byorick grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. She hit 1-of-2 from the line for Lehigh’s only points in the final minute of the game.
Williams added seven rebounds and was 7-of-9 from the free-throw line as she surpassed her previous high of 23 points which she had twice this season. Gratch added five rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. Her previous season high was 18 points which she scored at Holy Cross. Her 20 points were just five short of her career high which she set against Mississippi State in 2010.
O’Reilly finished with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists as the trio of her, Williams and Gratch combined for 59 of Lehigh’s points and went a combined 20-of-28 from the floor.
All five of Colgate’s starters finished in double-figures, led by 17 points from Missy Repoli.
Saturday marked the 53rd meeting between the two schools as Lehigh holds the 31-22 all-time edge. The loss ended Lehigh’s 13-game winning streak over Colgate as the Mountain Hawks’ previous loss to the Raiders came on February 1st, 2006 in a 71-69 overtime loss.
In the first meeting between the schools this season, Lehigh edged out Colgate in an 85-82 double-overtime thriller.
With the loss, Lehigh now sits tied in third place with Navy in the Patriot League standings.
Lehigh will return home Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks will host Bucknell at 7 p.m. Lehigh won the first meeting this season 53-38.