BETHLEHEM, Pa. - With a Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinal game already clinched, Lehigh will be looking to secure the #2 seed in the Tournament Saturday as the Mountain Hawks (15-12, 8-5 PL) host Army (14-14, 8-5 PL) at 7:30 p.m. in the final game of the regular season. Saturday’s game will be senior night as Lehigh’s four seniors - Alexa Williams, Emily Gratch, Aly Byorick and Kelela Blake - will be honored before the game.
It is also Lehigh’s Play 4 Kay game in which the Mountain Hawks will raise funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. For every fan in attendance, $1 will be donated to breast cancer research and will be presented in remembrance of Debbie Pearsall.
Lehigh and Army are tied in second in the standings and with a win Saturday, the Mountain Hawks will be the #2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will also host a semifinal game. A loss Saturday, and Lehigh will be the #3 seed.
Lehigh was able to clinch a home quarterfinal game thanks to a 57-48 win over Navy Wednesday. The Mountain Hawks never trailed in the game as Lehigh’s starters accounted for 48 points. Senior Alexa Williams led the way with a double-double of 13 points and season-high 14 rebounds while junior Kelly Petereson added a game-high 14 points. Lehigh led by two at halftime and pushed its lead to as many as 12 with 7:30 to play. Navy went on a run to cut the lead to five, but Lehigh’s defense held Navy without a point for the final 1:40 to secure the victory.
Peterson has led the team in scoring the past three games, averaging 15.5 points in that stretch, providing the Mountain Hawks with another scoring threat to go along with Williams and seniors Emily Gratch who have paced Lehigh for the majority of the season.
Williams has started all 27 games for Lehigh this season and leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. Her 12.4 points per game rank #6 in the league while her 8.9 rebounds are #1. She also ranks #4 in blocked shots (1.5), #7 in steals (1.6) and #7 in field goal percentage (44.2). In 13 league games, Williams is averaging 14.4 points (#2 in the league) and 8.3 rebounds (#4 in the league).
Gratch is second on the team in scoring (11.6), rebounding (6.4) and blocks (1.0). She leads the team with a 48.7 field goal percentage, including a stellar 50.7% in league games which ranks #3 in the league. In league games, Gratch is also averaging 12.1 points (#9 in the league) and 5.5 rebounds (#13 in the league). Gratch is now 14 rebounds away from 500 for her career.
Williams and Gratch help lead a Lehigh offense that ranks #2 in the league with 59.3 points per game and is #1 during league play at 62.3 points per game.
Army will enter Saturday’s game also looking to clinch the #2 seed after the Black Knights secured a home quarterfinal Patriot League Tournament game after beating Holy Cross 65-62 Wednesday. The Black Knights trailed 35-31 at the half and overcame a 58-51 deficit with 7:42 remaining. Army outscored Holy Cross 14-3 over the final seven minutes en route to victory.
Army was led by Anna Simmers’ game-high 22 points and seven rebounds. The Black Knights have been led all season by Simmers who leads the Patriot League in scoring at 14.7 ppg. She also leads the league in scoring during league games, averaging 18.8 ppg.
Army has also been paced by Jen Hazlett, who is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 ppg, which ranks #4 in the league. Her 7.8 rpg lead the team and rank #5 in the league. She is averaging 13.5 ppg and 8.8 rpg in league play. Hazlett can fill it up from behind the arc as ranks #3 in the league in 3-pt FG percentage (37.0%) and #5 in threes per game (1.6).
As a team, Army ranks #3 in 3-pt FG percentage (32.3%), but the Black Knights haven’t just had success offensively. Defensively, the team is #3 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 54.8 points and #3 in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 37.0%.
Saturday’s game will mark the 51th meeting between Lehigh and Army as the Mountain Hawks hold the all-time edge 27-23 including eight of the last 11.
Lehigh fell just short in the first meeting this season, 66-64. The Mountain Hawks overcame an 18-point second-half deficit to tie the game with 5:11 left and had a chance to tie or win the game at the end of the game. Four Mountain Hawks finished in double figures, led by senior Emily Gratch’s 16 points, 12 coming in the second half to spark the comeback. Simmers paced Army in the game with 28 points.
Saturday’s game will be free for students with a student ID and wear pink to get a buy one, get one ticket. For more information on the Play 4 Kay game, check out this video: youtu.be/dKUOgrWpy00