Posted: January 4, 2009
AKRON, Ohio – Lehigh’s five-game winning streak came to a halt on Sunday afternoon in Akron, Ohio, as the Mountain Hawks fell to the Zips, 67-59 at Rhodes Arena. Melissa Rich set a season high with 17 points and added eight rebounds to lead the Mountain Hawks, but it was not enough as the Mountain hawks went 2-for-23 (8.7 percent) from downtown in the loss.
With the loss, Lehigh drops to 11-4 on the season as it concludes the non-league portion of its schedule. Akron improves to 5-8 with the win.
”I’m a believer in this team’s abilities so I’m one that tells them to keep shooting," Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. "I believe it will turn our way, but tonight it didn’t.”
Lehigh overcame a 21-6 deficit less than six minutes into the game to grab the lead by the end of the first half. The Mountain Hawks outscored the Zips, 22-6, over the final 14:03 of the first to grab a 28-27 lead heading into the break.
But a 10-0 rally by Akron early in the second half gave the Zips the lead for good as Lehigh’s second comeback attempt fell short.
“We really sruggled to put the ball in the basket," Troyan said. "We played with really good intensity on the defensive end but we just couldn’t find the bottom of the basket.”
The Brown and White was outscored 40-31 in the second period against Akron. Lehigh made one last attempt at a comeback by going on a 7-1 run to pull within a 57-55 deficit with just more than two minutes left. But Akron withstood the late rally and closed out the game with a 10-4 burst of its own to seal the win.
Tricia Smith fell one point shy of a double-double as she scored nine and added a game-high 12 rebounds. Haly Crites was the only Mountain Hawk other than Rich in double figures, as she scored 10 and added five rebounds.
Kara Murphy led the Zips with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Kyle Baumgartner threw in 15 points and nine rebounds and Ashley Veal made it a trio of Zips in double figures with 10.
“We have to give Akron a lot of credit," Troyan said. "They played a great game and didn’t give us anything easy defensively. They really made everything hard for us.”
The Mountain Hawks couldn’t buy a basket for much of the first half. After Lehigh had pulled ahead 4-3 in the early minutes of the half, Akron went on a blistering 15-0 run to open up an 18-4 lead, less than five minutes into the game.
Even after the Akron run was over, Lehigh still couldn’t break the lock that appeared over the rim. The Mountain Hawks went through a 6:43 span where they did not sink a single field goal. Still, five made free throws over that span kept them in the game, as did the cold spell that hit the Zips’ offense.
Rich broke the drought with a layup at the 7:25 mark, getting both Lehigh and her offensive game on track. The senior center scored three-consecutive field goals for the Mountain Hawks and accounted for eight-straight points as the momentum began to swing back around to the Brown and White.
“That was definitely a bright spot," Troyan said of Rich's performance. "Going into Patriot League play I think it will be a big confidence booster for us. She played very well and I think it was a real bright spot in an otherwise pretty ugly game.”
Akron went through an even bigger field goal drought as it let Lehigh creep its way back in. The Zips did not score from the 9:47 mark until 1:42 remained in the first half, a drought of 8:05. During that span, the Mountain Hawks rallied on a 14-2 run that cut the deficit to just two points, 25-23.
After a missed free throw from Akron’s Kara Murphy, Erica Prosser dribbled the ball up court looking to give Lehigh its first lead since the 17:57 mark in the first. The sophomore guard dribbled around her back, past two defenders, and found Kristen Dalton waiting in the corner. The junior guard drilled the 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to give Lehigh the one-point lead at halftime.
The Mountain Hawks used their dominance on the offensive glass to make up for their mistakes shooting the ball in the first half. While they went just 11-for-35 (31.4 percent) in the first period, the Mountain Hawks outrebounded the Zips 24-13 in the half, including 16 offensive rebounds to just five for Akron.
Melissa Rich led the way with eight points and five rebounds in the first half. Erica Prosser also grabbed five rebounds to go along with her four points in the period.
The Mountain Hawks open up Patriot League play on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m., as the American Eagles come to Stabler Arena. Tickets to the game 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: Lehigh’s trip to Akron marked the first time the Mountain Hawks were west of Pennsylvania for a game this season…The Mountain Hawks now hold an 0-3 record all-time in the state of Ohio…Despite the one-point differential at halftime, Lehigh and Akron were never tied in the first half after 0-0.
Watch Lehigh Basketball Post-Game Extra