Posted: 01/11/2012 | Last updated: January 12, 2012 at 03:02 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (8-8, 1-1 PL) cut the deficit to two with 4:52 left in the game, but couldn’t get over the hump as Lehigh fell 55-49 to American (10-6, 2-0 PL) Wednesday. Eight Mountain Hawks scored as senior Emily Gratch led the way with 11 points while senior Alexa Williams had her fourth double-double of the year with 10 points and 13 rebounds and added four steals.
“Give American credit, they played really physically tough and outhustled us,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “The hustle and offensive rebounds, those little things were the difference in the game. We didn’t get a lot of clean looks inside and we certainly struggled offensively. They put a lot of defensive pressure on you.”
Lehigh shot 35 percent (18-for-52) including 25 percent (3-for-12) from behind the arc while American shot 38 percent (22-for-58) and also shot 25 percent (4-for-16) from three. American held a slight edge on the glass, outrebounding Lehigh 38-36 while the two teams combined for 41 turnovers (22 from Lehigh, 19 from American). After not attempting a free throw in the first half, American went 7-for-11 from the charity stripe in the second half while Lehigh went 10-for-15 from the line including 9-for-13 in the second half.
The team’s exchanged three’s early as Lehigh trailed 11-7 with 14:43 to go. American hit three baskets from behind the arc while Lehigh had one off the hand of senior Aly Byorick. Freshman Sarah Williams provided a spark with four quick points as Lehigh knotted it at 13 with 11:42 left and Alexa Williams scored off an offensive rebound to give the Mountain Hawks their first lead at 15-13.
American then went on a 9-0 run to take a 22-15 lead with 7:48 left. Gratch ended the run with a made free throw and soon after, freshman Katie O’Reilly added a layup for Lehigh’s first field goal in five and a half minutes as Lehigh trailed 26-18 with 3:34 to go.
Junior Sarah Pearce made a layup at the buzzer as Lehigh trailed 28-22 at halftime. Lehigh shot 38.5 percent (10-for-26) while American shot 43 percent (12-for-28). The difference at the break was Lehigh’s 1-for-5 from three vs. American’s 4-for-9. American didn’t attempt a free throw while Lehigh went 1-for-2. The teams combined for 26 turnovers (14 from Lehigh, 12 from American).
Seven different Mountain Hawks scored in the opening 20 minutes as Gratch led the way with seven points while Williams had two points and six rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass.
The teams exchanged baskets out of the half as Lehigh trailed 33-27 with 15:48 left. Alexa Williams ended a three minute field goal drought for Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks trailed 37-30 with 13:50 to go. Williams then converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to 39-34 with 11:50 left.
Sarah Williams nailed a three as Lehigh trailed 43-39 with 9:20 to go. Looking as if the Mountain Hawks had turned momentum and were set to go on a run, American was there with a response. Lehigh stepped up its defensive pressure and held American without a basket for four minutes minutes while Gratch scored to cut the deficit to 45-41 with 5:50 left.
O’Reilly added a pair of free throws as Lehigh trailed 45-43 with 4:52 left, the closest the Mountain Hawks had been since 10:15 left in the first half. American quickly responded with a basket to extend its lead back to four, but Alexa Williams hit two free throws as Lehigh trailed by two with four minutes to go. But again, American had the response with a basket as the Eagles went on a quick 4-0 run to extend its lead back to six with 2:45 left.
Sophomore Hilary Weaver hit a jumper from the extended foul line as Lehigh trailed 51-47 with 1:12 left. The Mountain Hawks then got the stop they were looking for on defense, but couldn’t take advantage on the offensive end. Lehigh then fouled looking to extend the game, but American hit both free throws. On the other end, Weaver hit a pair of free throws as Lehigh trailed 53-49 with 18 seconds left. Again Lehigh fouled, but the Eagles again converted both free throws to secure the victory as Lehigh fell 55-49.
Along with Gratch and Williams, Sarah Williams tied a career high with nine points while Byorick added six points.
American had four players in double-figure scoring, led by 12 points and 12 rebounds from Sarah Kiely while Ebony Edwards had 12 points and five steals.
Wednesday’s game marked the 29th meeting between Lehigh and American as the Eagles extended their edge to 18-11.
Lehigh will next take the court Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Mountain Hawks host Colgate. Tickets for all home games are now on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610) 7LU-GAME.