Posted: December 18, 2008
NEWARK, N.J. – Three players scored in double figures for the Mountain Hawks as they rolled to their seventh victory of the season on Thursday night with a 65-54 victory over NJIT at the Prudential Center. With the win, Lehigh improves to 7-3 on the season while NJIT drops to 2-6.
Alex Ross knocked down a career-high six 3-pointers to lead the team with 22 points. Alexa Williams threw in a career-high 15 points and added a career-high-tying eight rebounds, while Tricia Smith put up 11 points and nine rebounds for the Brown and White.
It wasn’t a pretty game for the Mountain Hawks, as they turned the ball over a season-high 28 times in the victory. Lehigh forced NJIT into 19 turnovers as well, but it was the edge on the glass that turned the tide in the game. Lehigh outrebounded the Highlanders 42-23 in the game, making up for its many offensive mistakes.
“It kind of feels like a loss the way we played tonight,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan joked. “We were affected by their pressure on defense and it’s something we definitely have to work on.”
The Mountain Hawks also made up for the turnovers by shooting well from the field. The Brown and White connected on 45 percent of its shots and 80 percent of its free throws to take advantage of the opportunities the Highlanders gave them.
It also helped that Alexa Williams set a career high with 15 points in her 24 minutes off the bench.
“Alexa played great tonight,” Smith said. “She’s definitely a huge spark off the bench for us. She’s so quick and athletic and she did a great job.”
The Mountain Hawks wanted to jump out and run against the Highlanders to start the game, but a series of turnovers and sloppy play slowed the run and gun offense down to a walk. The Mountain Hawks would turn the ball over 16 times in the first half, while NJIT didn’t fare much better, turning the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes.
“We just didn’t slow down and take care of the ball well,” Smith said. “We let them dictate the tempo. We’re a team that likes to run and attack, but that didn’t work tonight.”
Neither team could take control through the first 10 minutes as each squad tried to find a rhythm offensively. That’s when Lehigh looked to Ross to carry the load as she caught fire from the floor. Ross buried four-consecutive shots including two 3-pointers as she accounted for 10 of Lehigh’s next 12 points as the Brown and White jumped in front 26-21 with 5:21 left.
The Lehigh defense suffocated the Highlanders at the end of the first half, as the Mountain Hawks picked up the intensity and shut down NJIT’s offense. The Highlanders pulled to within 23-21 with 6:27 left in the period, but they would not score again for the next 5:53 as Lehigh extended its lead to 11 points.
The Mountain Hawks went on a blistering 13-4 run to close out the period that gave them desired breathing room heading into the locker room with a 34-23 lead. Ross led all scorers at the break with her 13 points, accounting for more than one-third of Lehigh’s offensive output.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Binghamton Bearcats come to Stabler Arena. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.
Buzzer beaters: With her six 3-pointers on Thursday, Alex Ross moved into sole possession of third place in Lehigh history for field goals from behind the arc with 148. Ross passed both Mary Beth Bedics and Cat Nicholson on the all-time list…Lehigh is now 5-0 when it turns the ball over 20 or more times in a game…This is the first of two games the Highlanders will play at the Prudential Center, the home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. NJIT will also play Utah Valley at the Prudential Center on Feb. 12…The Prudential Center is the second largest venue Lehigh will play in during the 2008-09 season (18,500), next to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse (33,633).
Watch the Lehigh Basketball Post-Game Extra