Posted: 02/18/2012 | Last updated: February 18, 2012 at 07:31 PM
EASTON, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (14-12, 7-5 PL) shot 50 percent in the first half to build up a 17-point lead en route to a 57-47 win over rival Lafayette (8-19, 2-10 PL) Saturday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks were led by junior Kelly Peterson’s career-high 19 points while senior Emily Gratch added 13 points. The win snapped Lehigh’s three-game skid as the Mountain Hawks sweep the season series vs. the Leopards.
“We struggled there for a while in the second half, but we fought defensively and Kelly was a big spark for us,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “Emily did a great job on both sides of the ball, especially defensively making it tough for Lafayette to get easy baskets inside.”
While Lehigh held a 15-point advantage at the half, both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the second half as the teams combined to shoot 16-of-63 from the floor. Lafayette made a late-run to cut Lehigh’s lead to single digits, but the Mountain Hawks held strong on both ends of the floor to pull out the victory.
With both Army and Navy losing Saturday, Lehigh now sits in a three-way tie with those two teams for second place in league standings.
The Mountain Hawks finished the game shooting 37 percent (23-of-62) including 56 percent (5-of-9) from three while Lafayette shot 30 percent (17-of-57) and 27 percent (3-of-11) from behind the arc. Both teams were fairly even on the boards with Lehigh holding a slight edge 43-42. Lafayette had 15 blocks to Lehigh’s three but the Mountain Hawks made up for it with 11 steals to the Leopards’ four.
Trailing 5-3 in the early going, Lehigh caught fire going on a 7-0 run to take a 10-5 lead with 15:45 to go as Peterson sparked the run with five of those points.
Gratch added a layup to make it a 9-0 run while holding Lafayette without a field goal for four minutes. Gratch made another layup and again, the Mountain Hawks held the Leopards without a field goal for three minutes as Lehigh led 14-9 with 10:48 left.
Lafayette then made a small run cutting Lehigh’s lead to 23-17 but sophomore Hilary Weaver ended the run with a three and Peterson followed it up with another three and a jumper to extend Lehigh’s lead to 31-19 with 4:17 to go.
The Mountain Hawks continued to roll as they led 37-22 at halftime. Lehigh's 15-pt halftime lead was its second largest of the season. Lehigh led by 16 at the half vs. NJIT on Dec. 7. The Mountain Hawks shot 50 percent from the field including 5-of-5 from three while holding Lafayette to 35 percent and 1-of-4 from behind the arc. Lehigh outrebounded Lafayette 21-16 including 7-5 on the offensive glass.
Lehigh turned the ball over nine times while forcing 10 Lafayette turnovers, but the Mountain Hawks took advantage with a 13-2 edge on points off turnovers.
The Mountain Hawks were led in the opening 20 minutes by Peterson’s 13 points and Gratch’s 11 points. The duo combined to shoot 10-of-17 from the floor including 4-of-4 from behind the arc.
The second half started a little sloppy but Lehigh continued to lead 39-26 at the under-16 media timeout. Lafayette, using an 8-2 run, cut the deficit to 41-30 with 13:35 left. The Leopards had a couple chances to cut the lead to single digits but the Mountain Hawks’ defense held strong. And despite starting the second half just 2-of-15 from the field, Lehigh still lead 43-30 with 11:24 to go.
Both teams continued to struggle offensively as Lehigh managed just one field goal over a 10-minute stretch but held Lafayette to one made field goal over a seven-minute stretch as the Mountain Hawks held on to a 45-31 lead with 7:00 left.
The Leopards then made back-to-back baskets and added a pair of free throws for a 6-0 run to cut the lead 45-38 with 4:25 to go.
Alexa Williams ended the run with a baseline jumper and after Lafayette made two free throws, it was Williams again who hit the open jumper and for the third straight time after Lafayette scored, it was Williams with the answer.
Lehigh finally held Lafayatte to a pair of empty possessions as Peterson scored four straight for Lehigh to put the game away.
Along with Peterson and Gratch, junior Marybeth Egan tied a career high with three assists, playing a career-high 19 minutes. Junior Becky Guman added a career-high nine rebounds and career-high five steals while senior Kelela Blake had a career-high eight rebounds.
Williams had three rebounds to give her 738 for her career which puts her in a tie for #15 all-time in Patriot League history.
Lafayette was paced by Danielle Fiacco who fell just short of a triple-double with seven points, 10 blocks and 11 rebounds. Sarah McGorry added 14 points and 12 rebounds
It was the 81st meeting between the rivals as Lehigh improved to 40-41 all-time while the Mountain Hawks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Lehigh won the first meeting this season 68-55 on Jan. 21.Lehigh’s last loss at Lafayette came on Jan. 26, 2008, 48-45.
Lehigh will return home for its final two regular season games as the Mountain Hawks host Navy Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and Army Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Both games will help to determine seeding for the Patriot League Championships.