Posted: 12/08/2012 | Last updated: December 8, 2012 at 10:11 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – As a part of the 23-point victory, several different Mountain Hawks set career-highs on the night while the Lehigh women’s basketball team earned its fourth victory of the season and second in-a-row with a 72-49 win over Niagara on Saturday night. The Mountain Hawks had four players in double figures while also having four players break career-highs.
"I thought it was a great team effort and our first complete game we’ve played on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively," said head coach Sue Troyan. "We held a very good and hot offensive team to under 50 points and it was nice to see our offense start to come together in the second half."
After opening the game tied at six apiece, the Purple Eagles proceeded on a 9-5 run to open up their largest lead of the first 20 minutes at 15-11 with 8:49 left in the half. Lehigh battled back and eventually took an 18-17 lead after a layup from junior Alexandra Yantzi at the 3:30 mark, two of six first half points for the 6-5 center.
After Niagara retook the lead just over a minute later, senior Kelly Peterson’s trey with 1:47 to play before the break gave Lehigh its largest lead of the half at 23-19. The Mountain Hawks entered the half with a 25-22 lead following a free throw from freshman Elizabeth Sharlow.
The Mountain Hawks outscored the Purple Eagles 8-2 in the paint, 8-6 off of turnovers and 12-10 from the bench. Sharlow and Yantzi both set career-highs in rebounds over the first 20 minutes with nine and five, respectively, as Lehigh out-rebounded Niagara 25-20 entering the break.
"We have a lot of depth with our forwards and now I’ve got to figure out how to get everyone minutes, but that’s a good problem to have," said Troyan.
The Mountain Hawks shot 24.2 percent from the field and 70 percent from the charity stripe through the first half, while senior Kelly Peterson was the game’s leading scorer with eight points. Those eight first half points gave her exactly 400 for her career as a Mountain Hawk. Following Peterson was Yantzi with six and sophomore Katie O’Reilly with four.
Niagara knocked Lehigh’s lead back down to three at 35-32 at the 14:38 mark into the second half, but the Mountain Hawks responded with 6-0 run to bumped their lead back to nine points at 41-32 after O’Reilly connected on a three-pointer with 12:49 left to play.
The Mountain Hawks kept rolling, eventually opening up a 20-point lead at 62-42 with 5:39 to play in the game after freshman Kerry Kinek dropped a jumper in the paint. Kinek finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds as the younger players for the Mountain Hawks have continued to step up throughout the non-league portion of the schedule.
From there, Lehigh closed out the game with a three-pointer from freshman Elizabeth Jordan with 24 seconds as she also eclipsed a career-high in points with four.
O’Reilly set a new career-high with a game-best 16 points, while Yantzi topped her previously career-high of four points with 10 on the evening. Sharlow finished the game with 14 rebounds, a new Lehigh single-game high for the 2012-13 season, 11 on the offensive end.
"The number of contributions from different players was key and I thought Alexandra Yantzi stepped up and had a big game and a career day," said Troyan. "Liz Sharlow gave us a great effort on the rebounding end and plays with a lot of heart out there on the floor which makes a big difference."
The Mountain Hawks shot 35.4 percent from the field for the game and 26.3 percent from beyond the arc as Peterson led the three-point charge with three for the game. Lehigh outscored Niagara 47-27 in the second half and out-rebounded the Purple Eagles 56-39. The brown and white’s major difference in the game was points in the paint as Lehigh held a 28-8 advantage in that category and 39-16 from the bench.
Niagara ended the game 9-for-19 (47.4 percent) from the free throw line, while Lehigh forced the Purple Eagles to turn the ball over 20 times on the night. Val McQuade was the leading scorer for Niagara with nine points throughout the game.
Lehigh will now break for 12 days before hosting Sacred Heart inside Stabler Arena on December 20 for a 7 p.m. tip before the annual Christmas City Classic which is scheduled for December 29-30.