BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The second-seeded Lehigh women’s basketball team (17-12) used a 23-2 run over the course of two halves to cruise past the seventh-seeded Bucknell Bison (5-25) 63-47 Thursday to advance to the Patriot League Semifinals. The Mountain Hawks will now host third-seeded Navy Monday at 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena. It is the sixth straight year in which Lehigh has advanced to the Semifinals.
To purchase tickets for Monday’s game, please click here. Tickets may be purchased on Lehighsports.com, over the phone (610-758-4263) or in-person at Stabler Arena, Monday-through-Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets cost $6 for adults and $3 for students/children/seniors.
Lehigh trailed 18-15 with 7:13 left in the first half and then proceeded to go on an 11-0 run to end the half and 12-2 run to start the second half to take a 38-20 lead five minutes into the second half. The Mountain Hawks cruised the rest of the way, building up a game-high 22 points.
Nine different Lehigh players scored including three in double figures led by 13 points from junior Kelly Peterson while senior Emily Gratch added 12 points and senior Alexa Williams had 10.
Gratch also added six rebounds and now has 500 for her career. She becomes the fifth women’s player in Lehigh history to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for her career.
Gratch wasn’t the only player to hit a milestone. Junior Marybeth Egan dished out a career-high 10 assists, well surpassing her previous high of four. She became the first Lehigh player to have 10+ assists in a game since Erica Prosser did it on Feb. 26, 2011 vs. Holy Cross.
Lehigh shot 50 percent for the game and had 19 assists on its 25 made field goals. Lehigh dominated the points in the paint, outscoring Bucknell 42-22. The Mountain Hawks also outrebounded the Bison 63-47 including 11-7 on the offensive glass. Lehigh also had 11 more points at the free-throw line as the Mountain Hawks were 11-for-12 to Bucknell’s 0-for-2 from the charity stipe.
While Lehigh dominated offensively, it was the Mountain Hawks’ defense that allowed them to build a big lead as Lehigh held Bucknell without a basket for almost a nine-minute stretch in the middle of the game.
“We went back and looked at our last loss to Bucknell and we saw that we were overextending ourselves on drives to the basket,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We went through a different game plan and our girls executed it very effectively.”
Lehigh started the game just 2-for-10 from the field but only trailed 12-9 with 11 minutes in the half. Then trailing 18-15, the Mountain Hawks went on an 11-0 lead – five of those from Peterson - over the half’s final 7:13 to take a 26-18 lead into halftime.
The teams combined for 16 field goals and 17 turnovers in a sloppy first half. Lehigh shot 40 percent (8-for-20) from the field while Bucknell shot 32 percent (8-for-25). Lehigh dominated on the boards 22-8 including 7-2 on the offensive glass. Lehigh turned the ball over 11 times while forcing six Bucknell turnovers.
The difference in the first half came at the free-throw line where Lehigh had a nine-point edge. The Mountain Hawks were 9-for-10 compared to Bucknell’s 0-for-2 from the charity stripe. Lehigh also took advantage of fastbreak points, outscoring Bucknell 7-0 in transition.
Eight different Mountain Hawks scored led by seven from Peterson. Gratch added four points, five rebounds and three assists in the opening 20 minutes.
Lehigh started the second half where it left off, scoring four straight points to take a 30-18 lead forcing Bucknell to call a timeout one minute and 15 seconds into the half.
Bucknell’s Shelby Romine hit a three to end the scoreless streak of almost nine minutes for the Bison.
Williams then hit back-to-back layups and Gratch added a layup to make it a 23-2 run for the Mountain Hawks and 36-20 lead with 16:32 left.
After building the lead to 20, Bucknell made a mini-run to cut the deficit to 14 with 6:43 to go but Lehigh scored eight straight points to end any hopes of a Bison comeback.
Bucknell was led Romine’s game-high 16 points.
Lehigh improved to 10-3 at Stabler Arena in the Patriot League Tournament and 4-1 all-time vs. Bucknell in the Tournament.
The schools met in the 2010 quarterfinals where #1 Lehigh won 72-57 over #8 Bucknell. The only other time the two met in the #2 vs. #7 matchup was in 2005 when Lehigh won 54-52 at Stabler thanks to a game-inning tip-in with 0.4 seconds left.
Lehigh will now host #3 Navy Monday at 7 p.m. The Mountain Hawks swept the season series with the Mids, winning 50-46 in Annapolis and 57-48 at home.
It is the Mountain Hawks’ sixth-straight Semifinals appearance as Lehigh has a 2-3 record. Lehigh will be vying for a spot in the Championship game against the winner of #1 American vs. #5 Holy Cross on Saturday, March 10 at 6 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network.