Posted: 10/03/2012 | Last updated: October 11, 2012 at 08:22 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a 17-win season and earning a two-seed in the Patriot League Tournament, Lehigh women’s basketball head coach Sue Troyan announced the 2012-13 schedule on Wednesday. The Mountain Hawks will play a 29-game agenda and face a lofty array of opponents including teams from the PAC 12, Atlantic 10 and Big East in non-league play as well as a challenging Patriot League slate.
Lehigh will open up the regular season on the West Coast with a contest against the California Golden Bears on November 9th. Cal will return 11 members from a 2011-12 team that went 25-10 overall and earned an eight-seed in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament where it knocked off ninth-seeded Iowa before falling to No. 1 and eventual runner-up Notre Dame in the second round.
"Our players are excited for the challenge to play against elite competition, as it allows us to measure where we are as a program and a league early during non-conference play," said Troyan. "It also represents the opportunity for one of our senior co-captains, Kelly Peterson, to play close to home for the first time during her career at Lehigh. One of our scheduling and recruiting philosophies is to make sure that we try to schedule a game close to home for our players who choose Lehigh from out of region, and this represents that opportunity for Kelly."
After their trip out West, the Mountain Hawks will return to the East Coast to take on Saint Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J. on Nov. 14.
Lehigh will finally return home when it hosts Atlantic 10-foe La Salle on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. The Explorers earned an eight-seed in the A-10 Tournament last season and defeated ninth-seeded Xavier in the first round before dropping to No. 1 St. Bonaventure in round two.
The Mountain Hawks will then head to Monmouth University to take on Wagner on Nov. 23 in the Thanksgiving Challenge before playing the Monmouth Hawks at Stabler Arena on Nov. 25.
The tough set of road games will continue for Lehigh as it will travel to Philadelphia to take on Big East opponent Villanova on Nov. 29. The 14th-seeded Wildcats upset No. 11 Providence in overtime in last year’s Big East Tournament before falling to Louisville in the second round at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Lehigh will then get an early scouting report on one of the newest additions to the Patriot League as the Mountain Hawks will travel to Baltimore, Md. to face the Loyola Grey Hounds on Dec. 3.
"It's a nice competitive opportunity to get a sense for and compete against a future league member," said Troyan.
Troyan and her team will then return home for a five-game homestand that will feature Fairfield (Dec. 6), Niagara (Dec. 8) and Sacred Heart (Dec. 20) before the annual Christmas City Classic when Lehigh will face Binghamton on Dec. 29. The Mountain Hawks will end the Christmas City Classic when they will get a look at the other newest member of the Patriot League, Boston University on Dec. 30. The Terriers will join the Patriot League along with Loyola for the 2013-14 season.
"Each year, we are fortunate to be able to attract quality programs to our Christmas Tournament and this year is no different," said Troyan. "Boston University and Binghamton both represent quality competition. Boston being one of the premier programs in the American East Conference and Binghamton being an up-and-coming program in that same conference."
The Mountain Hawks will begin the New Year with a road game against Mount St. Mary’s on Jan. 2 before continuing their road trip with a contest at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) on Jan. 6.
Lehigh will return home to play Columbia on Jan. 7 at 11:30 a.m. on Education Day at Lehigh University to close out its non-league schedule.
"Overall, we feel our non-league schedule will be a challenging one, and one that will prepare us for a highly competitive Patriot League schedule," said Troyan.
On Jan. 12, the Mountain Hawks will open Patriot League play with a road test against Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. before welcoming last year’s Patriot League regular season champion American into Stabler Arena for their first home Patriot League match-up on Jan. 16.
The Mountain Hawks went 9-5 in Patriot League play a year ago and will once again play a home-and-home against each Patriot League opponent.
In addition to the Patriot League home opener against American, Lehigh will host Bucknell (Jan. 23), Navy (Jan. 30), Army (Feb. 2), Holy Cross (Feb. 10), Colgate (Feb. 16) and Lafayette (Feb. 23). The Feb. 10 game against Holy Cross will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
"Once again, I feel as though the Patriot League will be very strong from top to bottom," said Troyan. "Each year, the league has become stronger and stronger as the parity amongst the eight teams has become closer than ever."
Lehigh will end the regular season with two tough road tests as it will travel to Annapolis, Md. to take on the reigning champion Navy Midshipmen on Feb. 27 before road-tripping to West Point, N.Y. to conclude the season with a contest against the Army Black Knights on Mar. 2.
"Finishing each half of conference play with our rival, Lafayette, followed by both Navy and Army back to back will be challenging," said Troyan. "However, one of the nice things about playing the Academies back-to-back is that you will see two similar mentalities in their respective teams - teams who are well coached, teams who are highly physical, teams who leave it all out on the floor each night, and teams against whom you have to bring your best."
The Patriot League Tournament is slated to begin on March 7 – 16 as the higher seeded teams will play hosts. Lehigh was clipped in the semifinals of last year’s tournament to third-seeded Navy as the Mids eventually went on to win the crown.
The Mountain Hawks will return three starters from last year’s 17-win team along with nine letterwinners as Troyan will enter her 18th season at the helm of the Lehigh women’s basketball program. Kelly Peterson will be the leading returning scorer as she averaged 9.5 points per game as a junior, while Katie O’Reilly will also return for the Mountain Hawks as the sophomore averaged 6.4 ppg and 3.6 rebounds per game as a freshman a year ago.