BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (6-6) will play two games in two days as the Mountain Hawks host the 15th annual Christmas City Classic presented by Wells Fargo. Lehigh will take on Rhode Island (1-11) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and will then face Richmond (10-2) the following night at 7:30 p.m. The Mountain Hawks will be looking for their fourth straight Christmas City Classic title.
Lehigh is currently on a four-game winning streak – all this month – and has won five of its last six games. The Mountain Hawks last took the court on December 10th when Lehigh put together an impressive 68-54 win over a Robert Morris squad that was off to its best start in school history and ranked 24th in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25. Senior Alexa Williams led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds, good for her third double-double of the season. Williams did most of her damage from the free throw line as she knocked down 12-of-14 from the charity stripe, just one short of the single-game school record for made free throws and four shy of the record for attempts.
Williams is averaging a double-double of 10.8 points and 10.0 rebounds to lead the way for Lehigh while senior Emily Gratch is averaging 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Along with the stellar play of Lehigh’s two Preseason All-Patriot League players, the Mountain Hawks’ recent success can be partly attributed to a better job of distributing the basketball. After totaling 47 assists in the first six games of the season, Lehigh has 89 assists in the next six games - that’s 14.8 assists per game during that time span. In its last three victories, Lehigh has combined for 68 field goals, 55 of which were assisted.
Lehigh will look to continue its hot play first against a Rhode Island team that enters the Christmas City Classic on a on a nine-game losing as the Rams’ lone win of the season came in a 52-43 victory over Providence on Nov. 16. Rhode Island is led by Ashley Rivera and Emilie Cloutier. The duo averages 11.3 points and 10.6 points, respectively. Rivera also leads the team in three-point shooting at 41% (21-for-51.)
Thursday’s game will be just the second all-time meeting between the schools as Lehigh dropped the only game of the series 50-47 on December 30, 2007.
The following night, Lehigh will take on a Richmond team that enters the Christmas City Classic on a four-game winning streak and has six wins in its last seven games. The Spiders have a trio of players in double-figure scoring led by Abby Oliver’s 16.1 points. They are also led by Genevieve Okoro’s 11.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while Richael Bilney adds 11.3 points.
Richmond ranks No. 1 in the nation in free-throw percentage (83.1) while Abby Oliver leads all Spiders with a 94 percent mark (47-of-50), which ranks 14th in the nation.
Friday’s game will be the second all-time meeting between the schools as Lehigh fell 106-68 during the 1996-97 season.
The Christmas City Classic will mark two more games against A-10 teams for the Mountain Hawks who started their 2011-12 slate with a pair of A-10 games. Lehigh opened the season with a 63-43 loss at La Salle and then fell 66-48 at Saint Joseph’s two days later. Lehigh is 13-42 all-time against the Atlantic-10.
The other two games in the classic will be James Madison vs. Richmond at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and Rhode Island vs. James Madison at 5:00 p.m. on Friday.
All four games can be seen live on Lehighsports.com. The two Lehigh games can also be heard on WLVR-FM 91.3 and online at Lehighsports.com
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.