Posted: 12/06/2012 | Last updated: December 6, 2012 at 11:26 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After overcoming a 15-point first half deficit, the Lehigh women’s basketball team rallied for a 47-42 victory over the visiting Fairfield Stags on Thursday night. Freshman Elizabeth Sharlow turned in a career-high nine points as she and fellow freshman Kerry Kinek paced a balanced Mountain Hawk attack that saw seven different players score.
"I thought Liz Sharlow came out and was a big boost of energy for us after we started pretty flat tonight," said head coach Sue Troyan. "She was doing all of the little things that provided energy for the team and then once the intensity was established it really helped everybody coming in."
Fairfield started the game on a 10-0 run, but a baseline jumper by junior Lindsay Hoskins got Lehigh on the board in the early going. The Stags’ lead reached as high as 15 when the score hit 17-2 in favor of the visitors and then 20-6, but Lehigh battled back to go on a 19-8 run, capped by a three-pointer from junior Hilary Weaver to cut Fairfield’s lead to two at 28-26.
Just before the half, the Stags converted on a scramble as the shot clock was running down and hit a jumper in the paint to enter the break leading 30-26.
At the half, Weaver’s two treys gave her a team-high six points, while Kinek led Lehigh with three boards. Sharlow entered the break with five points and three steals as seven different Mountain Hawks contributed to the scoring effort. Lehigh shot 33.3 percent from the field and beyond the arc over the first 20 minutes.
The brown and white did not allow the Stags to get to the line throughout the first half, while shooting 75 percent of its own from the charity stripe. Lehigh capitalized on 11 Fairfield turnovers, outscoring the Stags 9-2 off of giveaways, while the Mountain Hawk bench aided the attack with nine points.
The second half started as a defensive struggle with the two teams going scoreless through almost the first seven minutes until a free throw by sophomore Katie O’Reilly broke the drought at the 13:44 mark. From there, the Mountain Hawks chipped away at the slim Fairfield lead and eventually knotted the game at 33 apiece after Kinek hit a huge jumper in the paint.
"We’re struggling offensively right now and we really emphasize that our defense is going to win us games," said Troyan. "Once we executed a little better I think they played tremendous defense against what is a very good team."
A three by the Stags bumped the lead back up to 36-33 for Fairfield, but a 12-0 run by Lehigh turned the game and momentum in favor of the Mountain Hawks with Kinek again on the end of another game-changer as she converted on a layup to cap the run.
The Stags hit two clutch three-pointers within 45 seconds to cut the Mountain Hawk advantage back down to just three at 45-42 with 1:42 on the clock. Lehigh was able to close out the game with a layup from O’Reilly with just 30 seconds to play and then played solid defense down the final stretch for the victory.
The Mountain Hawks shot 35.8 percent from the field for the game and 33.3 percent from three-point land en route to their third win of the season. Sharlow and Kinek shared the points lead with nine apiece, while Weaver chipped in eight. Seven different Lehigh players scored in the game, showcasing the balanced Mountain Hawk attack.
Lehigh held the Stags to just four three pointers in the second half as the defense did not allow a two point field goal or a free throw over the final 20 minutes. The Mountain Hawks also took care of the ball, turning it over just 13 times throughout the game and forcing 17 Fairfield giveaways.
After being outscored 16-10 in the paint throughout the first half, Lehigh ended the game with a 22-16 advantage inside and 14-2 off of 17 Fairfield turnovers. The Mountain Hawk bench was a major factor in the win, totaling 16 points. The lead changed just one time throughout the game as once Lehigh took a lead, it never looked back.
Lehigh will now host Niagara on Saturday, December 8 for a 7 p.m. tipoff inside Stabler Arena before breaking for 12 days as it awaits a home tilt with Sacred Heart on December 20 which is also scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.