Lehigh starts second half of league play at Holy Cross Saturday
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (12-9, 5-2 PL) will kick off the second half of Patriot League play Saturday at 1 p.m. at Holy Cross (13-9, 4-3 PL). The Mountain Hawks currently sit in second place, just one game ahead of the Crusaders who are in a three-way tie for third. Lehigh defeated Holy Cross in the league opener as the Mountain Hawks are looking for their fourth straight season sweep of the Crusaders.
Lehigh is coming off a tough 66-64 loss at Army Sunday. 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 regulation. It was the Mountain Hawks’ second straight game in which they came back from at least 16 points down.
Lehigh had four players finish in double figures, led by senior Emily Gratch’s 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half to spark the Mountain Hawks’ comeback. Gratch also sparked the comeback victory over Navy last Wednesday when she again scored 12 second-half points as Lehigh trailed by 16 late in the first half.
With her 28 points over two games last week, Gratch is now 12 points away from becoming Lehigh’s 15th 1,000 point scorer.
Gratch is second on the team in scoring (10.6) and rebounding (6.7 as she along with senior Alexa Williams have been the catalysts on both sides of the ball this season. Williams leads the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Her 11.5 points per game rank sixth in the Patriot League and is first among seniors. Williams’ league-leading 9.3 rebounds per game rank tied at No. 52 in the nation. Williams also ranks fourth in the PL in blocked shots (1.5) and sixth in steals (1.6). She has the second most double-doubles in the league with six as Williams has scored in double figures in eight of her last 10 games.
Lehigh’s dynamic offense ranks second in the league (58.9 ppg), but the Mountain Hawks will have their hands full on the defensive end as they take on league’s top ranked scoring offense in Holy Cross (64.6 ppg).
The Crusaders have four players averaging at least 9.2 points per game, led by Amy Lepley’s 13.6 ppg and Alex Smiths’ 12.8 ppg, which is good for third and fifth in the Patriot League, respectively. Lepley also leads the team in rebounding (6.4).
Lepley ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (50.6) while Smith leads the league in assists (5.6) and three-point field goals made per game (2.7). Holy Cross leads the league in assists (17.6) and three-point field goal percentage (35.1).
Holy Cross hits the second half of Patriot League play in a three-way tie third with Navy and Army. After falling to Lehigh to start the league slate, Holy Cross reeled off wins in four of its next five league games defeating Navy, Lafayette, Bucknell and Army. The Crusaders other two losses were to American and Colgate.
The Crusaders also had a non-league game mixed in its schedule on January 16th as Holy Cross defeated Brown 81-74.
Holy Cross is coming off a 74-69 loss to Colgate Saturday. The Crusaders led by four at halftime as the teams battled down the stretch but Holy Cross fell just short as the Crusaders hurt themselves at the free-throw line (12-of-25). Holy Cross was led by Lepley’s fifth career double-double with a team-high 19 points and career-best 14 rebounds.
Lehigh and Holy Cross squared off to kick off Patriot League play this season as the Mountain Hawks won handily 75-60 behind a career-high 20 points from sophomore Hilary Weaver. The Mountain Hawks trailed by one at the half before going on to shoot a scorching 60 percent from the field in the second half.
Saturday’s game will be the 52nd all-time meeting between the schools as Holy Cross holds the 37-14 edge. Lehigh will be looking for its fourth straight season sweep of Holy Cross as the Mountain Hawks have won eight straight over the Crusaders.
The Mountain Hawks last loss to Holy Cross was in the 2008 Patriot League Semifinals in a 46-44 game that came down to the final six seconds.
With a win Saturday, Lehigh will improve to 21-0 in the month of February dating back to February 7, 2009 when the Mountain Hawks fell 65-56 at American. Lehigh will also be looking to improve to 7-0 on Saturday’s this season.
Saturday’s game will be Holy Cross’ “Think Pink Day” with proceeds going to Pink Revolution and the McInerney-Zona Children’s Fund.
Saturday’s game will mark Lehigh’s third straight on the road. The Mountain Hawks will return home Wednesday for a crucial game against first-place American at 7 p.m.