Posted: January 24, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks came out firing in the second half with an 11-0 run, and outscored Lafayette 39-21 over the final 20 minutes to run away with a 73-51 victory at Stabler Arena on Saturday night.
A Stabler Arena crowd of 1,784 fans – a new record for a single-game regular season women’s basketball crowd at Lehigh – was on hand to see Lehigh move to 15-5 on the season and 4-1 in the Patriot League, tying the Mountain Hawks with American for the top spot in the standings. Lafayette drops to 8-12 and 2-3 in league play.
Lehigh came out of the locker room with a run that essentially put the game away in the early minutes of the second half. The Leopards were held scoreless for the first 4:51 of the period, as the Mountain Hawks rattled off an 11-0 run to extend its lead to 45-30. Erica Prosser scored seven of the points in the run, including a nifty crossover move at the free throw line that led to an old-fashioned 3-point play to cap off the run.
“I thought at the end of the first half we started building some momentum,” Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan said. “We really emphasized at halftime using those first five minutes to put the game away.”
Even after the Leopards got on the board in the second, the Mountain Hawks continued to extend the lead. A string of triples from Prosser and Kristen Dalton extended the advantage to as much as 19, 55-36, with 12:55 remaining. More than six minutes later, Emily Gratch sank a layup to put the buffer at 22 points, 63-41, and the rout was on.
Prosser led all scorers with 24 points, five assists and four steals. Dalton joined her as the only other Mountain Hawk in double figures on the night.
It marked the fourth-straight game Prosser has scored 20 points or more, falling just one shy of her career high against Colgate on Wednesday night.
“She’s playing really confident, and she’s playing really well,” Troyan said about Prosser. “She’s making good decisions and she’s continuing to get better every game.”
LaKeisha Wright led Lafayette with 14 points, and Jessica Spicer threw in 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Leopards in the loss.
The 22-point margin was the largest win for Lehigh against its arch rival since Feb. 18, 2006, when the Mountain Hawks routed the Leopards, 79-50, in Stabler Arena.
“We didn’t want to get them too hyped up about the rivalry,” Troyan said. “We just accentuated playing our best, and I thought we did a nice job with that.”
The Mountain Hawks and Leopards both came out of the gate with the energy one would expect in such a heated rivalry. The crowd adorned in its white t-shirts rallied behind the Mountain Hawks as they opened up a 34-30 lead at halftime.
Lafayette jumped on Lehigh first, going on a 7-0 run that gave the Leopards a 14-7 lead with 13:38 remaining in the period. But the Mountain Hawks would answer right back with a run of their own, this time springing for nine unanswered.
Dalton halted the Lafayette run with a layup, then buried a three on the next possession to grab the momentum back. After a layup in transition by Courtney Molinaro, Melissa Rich sank another layup to give the Brown and White the 16-14 lead.
The lead would grow to as much as seven points when the Mountain Hawks took a 32-25 lead with 2:39 left in the half. But Lafayette responded with five-consecutive points from Cristin Zavocki to cut the lead back to two, before a Prosser jumper made it 34-30 at the break.
“We were just really focusing on defense,” Prosser said. “We wanted to play to their tendencies, but we let them get back into it in the last couple of minutes.”
All 14 Mountain Hawks saw action on Saturday night, including Kelela Blake, who made her first appearance of the season for the Brown and White. Melissa Rich contributed strongly off the bench with eight points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Troyan rewarded her for her effort by giving her the starting nod in the second half.
“Melissa will accept any role you put her in,” Troyan said. “She played so well that we thought we’d give her the chance to start the second half, and she responded. We had a lot of players contribute tonight, and that was a big key to our success.”
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday night when the Mountain Hawks travel to Lewisburg to take on the Bucknell Bison at 7 p.m. inside of Sojka Pavilion.
Buzzer beaters: Lehigh improves to 32-40 all time against Lafayette…Saturday marked the first time both men’s and women’s teams defeated the same league opponent on the same day this season…Lehigh is now a combined 7-0 on Wednesday and Saturday, the only two days of the week the Mountain Hawks will play regular season games on for the rest of the year.
Service Electric 2 Sports Post-Game Show