BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Three Mountain Hawks reached double figures including a career-high 22 points from freshman Kerry Kinek, but 75 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the second half helped Holy Cross to a 72-66 victory over the Lehigh women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon. Lehigh dropped its fifth straight and the first to the Crusaders since March 9, 2008. The Mountain Hawks will look to bounce back against American Wednesday night.
"They shot the ball well even though I thought we did a pretty good job of contesting a lot of their shots," said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. "We had some miscommunication on the defensive end, but we were close and just need to keep working hard."
The Crusaders shot 9-of-12 from long range in the second half, while sophomore Ashley Cooper poured in a team-high 19 on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, all from beyond the arc (6-of-7) as Holy Cross erased a five-point halftime deficit for the six-point victory, its fourth in Patriot League play.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead less than a minute into the game, the Mountain Hawks continued to build on their momentum throughout the first half against the Crusaders, eventually building a five-point lead at 16-11 with just under 10 minutes to play. Senior Becky Guman connected on the second of back-to-back treys to keep Lehigh’s advantage at 19-14, but Holy Cross battled back to eventually take a 20-19 lead, holding the Mountain Hawks scoreless for nearly three minutes.
Lehigh responded to the 6-0 run from the Crusaders, finishing the half on a 10-4 run, taking its largest lead over the first 20 minutes into the break at 29-24. Kinek scored nine in the first half, grabbing five boards in the process to lead all scorers on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and a 3-of-4 effort from the line.
"She (Kinek) played really well and made a lot of good decisions with the ball," said Troyan. "We probably should have gotten the ball to her more today."
The Mountain Hawks shot 36 percent from the field in the first half, but limited the visiting Crusaders to 32 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers. Freshman Elizabeth Jordan played a career-high nine minutes over the first half, eclipsing her game-high of eight set against Navy on January 30, 2013. Though Holy Cross outscored Lehigh 10-9 off of turnovers and 5-3 from the bench, the Mountain Hawks received 21 points from their starting line-up to aid the five-point advantage.
Less than a minute into the second half, Cooper connected on her second three of the game to pull Holy Cross within two as she set off a string of clutch shooting from beyond the arc. The sophomore hit her third trey to give the Crusaders their first lead of the second half and her fourth to knot the game at 46 apiece with 10:25 to play after the Mountain Hawks had built a three-point advantage.
In a tight game down the stretch, Holy Cross led by as many as nine, but Lehigh continued to show its resiliency, cutting the advantage down to two with just 2:24 to play after O’Reilly connected on the last two of her 11 points on the afternoon.
The Crusaders held off a feisty Mountain Hawk defense that fought to the final buzzer, but ultimately fell six points short. Holy Cross extended its winning streak to three, tying its season-high (November 25 – December 1), finishing the game 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from three-point range. Holy Cross outscored Lehigh 35-12 off the bench, but the Mountain Hawks dominated inside, in large part due to Kinek’s career performance, holding a 32-18 advantage in the paint.
"I thought we competed hard," said Troyan. "We played a lot harder and with a lot more effort, but it just wasn’t there today."
Lehigh will now look to rebound when it travels to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip against American before returning to Stabler Arena on Saturday, February 16 to face off against Colgate, also slated for 7 p.m.
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