BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh (13-11, 6-4 PL) has fallen in consecutive games for the first time since late November but will look to turn things around Wednesday as the Mountain Hawks host Bucknell (4-21, 2-8 PL) at 7 p.m. Lehigh is coming off a tough loss at Colgate, but the Mountain Hawks have won 10 straight by a 15-point average margin of victory over the Bison as Lehigh will be looking for their fifth straight season sweep.
After losing to American Wednesday, Lehigh’s comeback at Colgate fell short Saturday. After trailing by as many as 16 points, Lehigh cut the deficit to three with 2:20 left in the game but were unable to get over the hump, falling 77-71 and splitting the season series with the Raiders.
Lehigh was led by senior Alexa Williams who scored a career-high 27 points and tied her career high of 10 made field goals while senior Emily Gratch had a season-high 20 points, marking the first time since February 17, 2007 that Lehigh finished with a pair of 20+ point scorers. Williams and Gratch combined to go 17-of-23 from the floor.
Williams also added seven rebounds bringing her career total to 732, placing her in a tie for 16th all-time in Patriot League history. Williams is nine rebounds away from 15th and 36 from 14th.
The Mountain Hawks have been led this season by their two preseason All-Patriot League forwards in Williams and Gratch.
Williams has now scored 23+ points in three of her last six games. In her previous three seasons at Lehigh (95 games), she had none. Williams leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. Her 12.8 points per game rank sixth in the league while her 9.0 rebounds are first. She also ranks fourth in blocked shots (1.4), sixth in steals (1.6) and seventh in field goal percentage (45.0). In 10 league games, she is averaging 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds.
Gratch is second on the team behind Williams in scoring (11.8), rebounding (6.9) and blocks (1.0). She also leads the team with a 50.6 field goal percentage, which would rank second in the Patriot League if she were eligible. And her field goal percentage in Patriot League games is a stellar 54.5 percent. Gratch’s 20 points at Colgate Saturday were five short of her career high which she set on Dec. 30, 2010 against Mississippi St.
While Lehigh has dropped its past two games, Bucknell enters Wednesday’s game winners of its last two. The Bison picked up its first Patriot League victory Wednesday dominating Colgate 67-45 and then came from behind to defeat Lafayette Saturday 65-54.
In its win over the Leopards, Bucknell trailed by as many as 14 points with 7:50 left in the first half. Bucknell then went on a 20-10 run the rest of the half to cut the deficit to four at halftime. Trailing by one early in the second half, Bucknell went on a 15-0 run over an eight minute stretch to pull away for good.
Bucknell was led by Shelby Romine’s 26 points while Lindsay Horbatuck added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
For her efforts, Romine was named on Monday as the Patriot League’s Player of the Week as she averaged 18.5 points and 3.5 assists in the pair of victories.
Romine leads Bucknell in scoring (9.0) and assists (3.2) and she leads the Patriot League in free-throw shooting (78.6%) and is tied for the league lead in minutes played (36.3 per game).
The Bison are also led by Rachel Voss (8.0 points, 4.4 rebounds) and Lindsay Horbatuck (7.1 points, 8.2 rebounds).
While Bucknell is towards the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, the Bison have been able to stay in games thanks to their defensive efforts. Bucknell ranks second in the league in defensive rebounds (34.2) and will be matched up against a Lehigh team that ranks second in offensive rebounds (40.0).
Bucknell also ranks second in steals (8.5) and third in blocked shots (3.7).
Wednesday’s game will mark the 70th meeting between Lehigh and Bucknell with the Mountain Hawks holding the all-time edge 39-30. Lehigh’s last loss to Bucknell came on February 20, 2007 at Stabler Arena, 63-53.
In the first meeting between the teams this season, Lehigh got off to a slow start before pulling away en route to a 55-38 victory. After trailing by two at halftime, the Mountain Hawks held the Bison to just 14 second-half points while on the other end of the court, Lehigh shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half. Gratch led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds while Williams added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The game will be televised locally on Service Electric Channel 50 with Steve Degler and Jim Wills on the call.
After Wednesday’s game, Lehigh will face rival Lafayette Saturday at noon before returning home for the final two games of the season.