LEWISBURG, Pa. – After a slow start to the game, the Lehigh women’s basketball (10-8, 3-1 PL) team picked up its defensive pressure in the second half to defeat Bucknell (2-17, 0-4 PL) 55-38 Wednesday night. The Mountain Hawks held the Bison to just 14 points in the second half after Lehigh trailed 24-22 at halftime. Lehigh was led by senior Emily Gratch’s 17 points and seven rebounds while senior Alexa Williams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season.
“Give Bucknell credit they played hard, defended hard and didn’t give us a lot of easy looks,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We made a lot of mental mistakes in that first half but did a much better job in the second half on both sides of the basketball.”
Lehigh shot 50 percent in the second half and finished the game shooting 40 percent (21-for-53) and 1-for-6 from behind the arc while Bucknell shot just 24 percent in the second half to finish 31 percent (17-for-55) and 1-for-8 from three. Lehigh outrebounded Bucknell 37-34. The teams combined for 45 turnovers (22 for Lehigh, 23 for Bucknell). The difference in the game for Lehigh was free throws and points in the paint. The Mountain Hawks were 10-for-14 from the line vs. the Bison's 3-for-4 and Lehigh outscored Bucknell 36-22 in the paint.
The teams exchanged a couple of baskets early as the game was tied at 4-4 five minutes into the game. Freshman O’Reilly and Williams each had a basket to account for the Mountain Hawks’ points. Lehigh then got cold from the floor as Bucknell went on a 6-0 run. After four minutes without a field goal, Gratch finally broke the drought with an old-fashioned three-point play as Lehigh trailed 10-7 with 12:00 minutes left.
Junior Sarah Pearce then hit a three to quickly even the game at 10-10. But the Bison responded taking advantage of Lehigh turnovers with another 6-0 run. Again though it was Gratch to stop the run as she hit a runner in the lane and then Williams added a layup as Lehigh trailed 16-14 with 7:51 to go.
After a pair of free throws from Weaver and a Williams layup, Lehigh took an 18-17 lead with 4:13 left. The teams then exchanged baskets as Lehigh again took a 22-21 lead with 1:28 left on a freshman Sarah Williams layup. Bucknell responded with a three-pointer as Lehigh trailed 24-22 at the half.
Lehigh shot 31 percent (9-for-29) in the first half including 1-for-6 from behind the arc while Bucknell shot 37 percent (11-for-30) including 1-for-5 from three. Bucknell held the first-half rebounding edge 22-17 while both teams had 13 turnovers. The Bison had 10 assists while the Mountain Hawks had five. The teams combined for just seven free throws (Lehigh 3-for-5, Bucknell 1-for-2).
Gratch led the way with seven points, four rebounds, three blocks and three steals in the opening 20 minutes while Williams added six points and four rebounds.
The teams started off slow out of the break as Lehigh trailed 28-25 with 15:20 left. Then junior Becky Guman hit a jumper, Gratch added a layup and Alexa Williams hit a pair of free throws for a 6-0 run to give Lehigh a 31-28 with 13:30 to go. Williams then added a layup three minutes later to extend the run and Lehigh’s lead to 33-28 with 10:41 left while the Mountain Hawks stepped up their defensive pressure to hold the Bison without a field goal for a little more than five minutes.
After a Bucknell layup cut Lehigh’s lead to 33-30, Gratch came right back on the other end and converted a three-point play to bring Lehigh’s advantage back up to six with 9:34 to go. The teams exchanged baskets as the Mountain Hawks continue to lead between four and six points over the next five minutes, clinging to a 41-36 lead with 4:13 left.
Then Williams made a layup, Weaver hit a jumper and Gratch made a layup for a 6-0 run to extend Lehigh’s lead to 11 at 47-36 with 2:39 to go. The Mountain Hawks continued its run as they held the Bison without a field goal for the final 5:54 as Bucknell managed just two free throws in that time as Lehigh won 53-38.
Gratch added three blocks and three steals to her stellar game while Williams had two blocks and two steals. Along with that duo, Weaver had six points, five rebounds and three assists.
Bucknell was led by 10 points from Alyssa Dunn while the Lehigh defense held Shelby Romine, the Bison’s leading scorer to 3-for-14 shooting for seven points.
With the win, Lehigh improved to 39-30 all-time vs. Bucknell as the Mountain Hawks have now won 10 straight over the Bison. Lehigh’s last loss to Bucknell came on February 20th, 2007 in a 63-53 defeat at Stabler Arena.
Lehigh will return home to Stabler Arena Saturday to host rival Lafayette at 7 p.m. 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.