WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – After taking a nine-point lead into halftime, the Lehigh women’s basketball team shot 51.9 percent in the second half to sink the Wagner Seahawks, 78-53, behind a career-high 20 points from senior Kelly Peterson. Freshman Kerry Kinek recorded her second double-double of her young career as the 6-3 forward tallied 17 points and pulled down 12 boards for the Mountain Hawks on Friday evening.
"We played some pretty tough teams which helped prepare us for a game like this," said head coach Sue Troyan. "Kelly shooting the ball well from three early was huge. It gave us some confidence with her shots falling. It opened up everything else for us."
Peterson came out on fire, knocking down the Mountain Hawks’ first nine points via three treys as Lehigh grabbed a 9-3 lead just over two minutes into the game. Senior Sarah Pearce added four more points as Lehigh maintained its six-point lead as the score reached 17-11 with 11:17 left in the first half.
After about a three-minute scoreless drought, Kinek was able to clean-up a loose ball under the basket and convert a lay-up before Peterson knocked down a wide open jumper after a shot fake to keep Lehigh at a four-point advantage with 6:59 remaining in the first 20 minutes. The Mountain Hawks continued to lead by four at 24-20 with 3:39 left before ending the first half on a 9-4 run to extend their lead to nine (33-24) at the break courtesy of 11 first half points from Kinek and Peterson.
Lehigh shot 30.0 percent from the field in the first half and went 3-for-11 from long range, but had two players in double digits. Kinek led all rebounders with seven at intermission, while O’Reilly went 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. The Mountain Hawks shot a combined 75.0 percent from the line through the first 20 minutes and out-rebounded the Seahawks 31-15.
The Mountain Hawks began the second half on an 18-2 run, opening up their largest lead of the afternoon at 25 points as the score reached 51-26 with 12:07 left to play. Sarah Williams stole a pass at the top of the key and finished at the other end with a fastbreak lay-up to give the Mountain Hawks that 25-point advantage. Lehigh was able to keep its lead over 20 points after Peterson knocked down her first two free throws of the game at the 8:09 mark to put the Mountain Hawks up 58-37.
Out of the under 8:00 media timeout, Marybeth Egan got into the action, as she dropped her first shot of the game, a three-pointer, to push Lehigh’s lead to 61-37. From there, both teams caught fire as the Seahawks knocked down three shots, while Lehigh hit two and a free throw in a rapid scoring fest as the game reached 67-49 in favor of the brown and white with 5:04 to play.
The Seahawks lost their leading scorer when Stephanie Blais fouled out with 4:44 on the clock after Katie O’Reilly drove from the foul line and forced the blocking foul. Blais ended her game with a team-high 20 points as the sophomore was averaging 10.3 points per game coming into today’s action. O’Reilly calmly knocked down the pair of free throws, pushing Lehigh’s lead to 69-45 with 4:44 left.
Lehigh finished the game scoring nine of the last 17 points behind five more points from Williams, giving her seven for the game as the Mountain Hawks wrapped up a 78-53 victory over the Seahawks. Peterson finished the game with a career-high 20 points behind 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point land over 36 minutes on the floor. Kinek added 17 points, her second-consecutive game with 17, as well as a team-high 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Pearce registered her first double-digit scoring performance of the season, finishing the game with 10 points as well as five rebounds.
"It feels good," said Troyan. "We played well as a team. The defensive effort was really strong and our offense followed and made some shots."
The Mountain Hawks shot 38.8 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc, while shooting 69.2 percent from the charity stripe. Lehigh scored 45 second half points as the brown and white shot an impressive 51.9 percent over the final 20 minutes en route to the 25-point victory.
Lehigh will take the court on Sunday at 2 p.m. when it continues the Thanksgiving Challenge with a tilt against Monmouth University inside Stabler Arena, before hitting the road to take on the Villanova Wildcats at 7 p.m. on November 29.
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