Posted: 02/21/2012 | Last updated: February 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team (14-12, 7-5 PL) currently sits in a three-way tie for second place. One of those teams is Navy (14-12, 7-5 PL) which the Mountain Hawks will host Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will certainly have Patriot League Tournament seeding implications. A Lehigh win and it guarantees itself at least a #4 seed and a quarterfinal home game in the tournament.
The Mountain Hawks can still clinch at least a four-seed and a home game even if they lose if Army defeats Holy Cross Wednesday.
Lehigh halted its three-game skid Saturday as the Mountain Hawks defeated rival Lafayette 57-47. The Mountain Hawks shot 50 percent in the first half on Saturday to build up a 17-point lead on their way to victory over the Leopards. Lehigh was led by junior Kelly Peterson’s career-high 19 points while senior Emily Gratch added 13 points. The win gave the Mountain Hawks a season sweep over the Leopards.
The Mountain Hawks have been led by Peterson in their last two games as she averaged 15.5 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc. Peterson is third on the team in scoring this season, averaging 9.4 points behind seniors Alexa Williams (12.4 ppg) and Emily Gratch (11.8).
Williams’ 12.4 points rank sixth in the league while her 8.7 rebounds are first. She also ranks fourth in blocks (1.5), seventh in steals (1.5) and seventh in field goal percentage (43.8). In 12 league games, she is averaging 14.5 points, which ranks second in the league, and 7.8 rebounds.
With three rebounds against Lafayette Saturday, Williams now has 741 for her career which places her No. 4 all-time at Lehigh and tied at No. 15 all-time in the Patriot League. As the season winds down, Williams has a chance to continue cement herself Lehigh record books as she is 15 made free throws and just nine free-throw attempts away from tying Lehigh’s single-season records.
While the Mountain Hawks are first in the league in free-throw percentage (72%), Lehigh will be facing a Navy team that is in last (62%). With both teams playing close games as of late, it could become crucial down the stretch.
Navy has dropped two straight entering Wednesday’s game with the pair of losses coming by a combined five points. The Mids fell to American 55-52 on Saturday and then to Colgate 62-60 on Wednesday.
In both losses, Navy let double-digit leads slip away. The Mids held a 15-point lead at halftime vs. American and had a 12-point lead at Colgate with 11 minutes left in the game.
In the game against Colgate Saturday, Navy was led by Jade Geif’s 20 points and eight rebounds while Kara Pollinger added a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Geif leads the team in scoring with 10.7 ppg, which ranks #11 in the league. Navy has four players in the Top 20 in league scoring as Audrey Bauer ranks #12 (10.5 ppg), Alix Membreno is #17 (9.3 ppg) and Kara Pollinger is #19 (8.1 ppg).
Geif leads the team in rebounding at 8.1 rebounds, which ranks #4 in the league and she is #2 in the league shooting 51% from the field.
Navy is dangerous from behind the arc as it ranks first in 3-point field goal percentage (34.6%) and second in FG percentage (39.6%). Erin Edwards leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage (38.9%) while Pollinger ranks third (36.9%).
The Mids have not only been successful offensively, but defensively as well holding teams to 52.0 points per game which ranks first in the league. Navy also leads the league in field goal percentage defense (36%) and three-point field goal percentage defense (26%).
Lehigh and Navy will meet for 47th time Wednesday as Lehigh holds the 25-21 all-time edge including eight of the last nine. Six of those eight wins have come by four points or less.
In the first meeting this season, Lehigh overcame a 16-point halftime deficit by shooting 52 percent in the second half while holding Navy to 13 second-half points to win 50-46. Gratch and Peterson combined for 22 second-half points to spark the comeback.
After Wednesday’s game, Lehigh will host Army Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Patriot League regular season finale. The game will be Lehigh’s senior night as well as its WBCA Pink Zone/Play 4 Kay Game in which the Mountain Hawks will raise funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. For every fan in attendance, $1 will be donated to breast cancer research and will be presented in remembrance of Debbie Pearsall.