Posted: January 21, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh put a scare into the fans at Stabler Arena Wednesday night, falling behind, 28-22, at the half to Colgate. But the Mountain Hawks overcame the poor start and put the Raiders away, 61-43, for their ninth-straight home win to start the season.
With the win, the Mountain Hawks improve to 14-5, with a 3-1 mark in Patriot League play. The Raiders fall to 4-15, and 0-4 in league play with the loss.
The Mountain Hawks just couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half. Lehigh shot just 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes and just 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line. The poor shooting effort gave Colgate an opening to snag a six-point lead at the break.
“I’m a pretty even-keeled coach usually, but I laid into them at halftime,” Troyan said about her halftime speech. “They needed it. It wasn’t about executing; it was just about wanting it more. I was about five different shades of red in five minutes.”
Sophomore guard Erica Prosser set a new career high in scoring with 25 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer as the shot clock expired near the end of regulation. It was Prosser’s third-straight game scoring at least 20 points. Tricia Smith led all players with nine rebounds, to go along with her four points, two assists and two steals.
Patricia Oakes led the Raiders with 12 points, and Candice Green threw in 11 for Colgate in the loss.
Lehigh also got significant contributions off the bench by Emily Gratch. The freshman forward gave the Mountain Hawks a defensive presence in the front line, and threw in six points and two rebounds. Senior forward Haly Crites also added to the defense up front with a career-high-tying three blocks.
“She hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities this year,” Troyan said of Gratch. “But she comes to work hard every day in practice, and she did a great job when she got the chance tonight.”
The Raiders suffered through a stretch of more than 25 percent of the game without sinking a field goal from the end of the first half through nearly half the second half. Colgate scored its last bucket of the first with 3:19 remaining, and did not make another shot from the field until 12:23 remaining in the second half, a span of 10:56.
But the Mountain Hawks still trailed at the end of that span, as Lehigh continued the poor shooting that plagued it in the second half and only cut the lead to 29-28 before Georgia Gier’s jumper ended the shooting drought for Colgate.
Lehigh continued to buckle down on defense in the second period, forcing Colgate into another scoring drought that would turn the tide for good. A Kristen Dalton layup off a nice pass by Melissa Rich gave Lehigh its first lead, 32-31, with 10:46 left in the game, and the Mountain Hawks would never look back.
Lehigh scored eight points in-a-row before Colgate could respond. The Mountain Hawks extended the lead to 36-31, and the Raiders were unable to bounce back. Alex Ross dealt what amounted to a finishing blow when she nailed a 3-pointer with 5:58 remaining to give Lehigh a 42-33 advantage.
In all, the Brown and White outscored the Raiders 39-15 in the second half, and 57-29 since falling behind 14-4 in the first half.
“I thought the defense played better in the second half and that led to our transition game on the other end,” Troyan said. “We were able to run some more full court press and that caught Colgate off balance.”
Prosser led all scorers at the intermission with nine points. Candice Green and Katie Garman each put up eight points for the Raiders in the first half. Colgate made Lehigh pay for its 20 missed shots in the half by outrebounding the Brown and White 23-16 in the opening period.
Things started ominously at Stabler Arena, as the Mountain Hawks fell behind 14-4 after a 12-0 run by the Raiders put the Brown and White back on its heels. Lehigh stopped the run momentarily, but failed to seize the momentum back.
The lead grew to as many as 13 points as Lehigh made just one of its first nine field goal attempts. A jumper by Georgia Gier with 7:50 remaining in the first put Colgate up 21-8, its largest lead of the game.
“I thought we came out real flat,” Troyan said. “It certainly showed on the offensive end and in our transition game.”
The Mountain Hawks showed their first signs of life in the first half when they went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to just 21-15 with 5:35 left. Prosser capped off the run with a 3-pointer in transition that energized the crowd for the first time.
But the Brown and White could not build on the surge, instead trading baskets with the Raiders for much of the rest of the half. Just as it seemed Colgate would go into the break with all the momentum, Prosser used a head fake to get open one step inside the 3-point line and buried a buzzer-beating jumper off one foot to put Lehigh back within six, 28-22, at halftime.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. when it hosts archrival Lafayette at 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 the win over Colgate, Lehigh has now won the last six meetings against the Raiders…The Mountain Hawks bounced back from a tough loss at Army to win for the ninth-straight time following a loss, dating back to last season…Lehigh is now 3-0 in games played on Wednesday.
Service Electric 2 Sports Post-Game Show