EASTON, Pa. – After trailing by 13 at the half, the Lehigh women’s basketball team (10-10, 2-3 Patriot League) rallied to cut the Leopard lead to just five, but Lafayette (8-12, 1-4 Patriot League) was able to outlast the Mountain Hawks for its first Patriot League victory. Senior co-captain Becky Guman scored 13 second half points, but a strong effort on the boards and from the bench helped propel Lafayette to the win.
"We tried hard to get back into it, but we gave them too many second and third chances," said Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan. "Give Lafayette a lot of credit, they played really well this afternoon."
The Mountain Hawk defense came out strong to start the 82nd game of women’s basketball in the storied rivalry of Lehigh vs. Lafayette. The Brown and White shut down the Leopard offense early, holding Lafayette to just three shots over the first five minutes of the game. The Mountain Hawks also forced six turnovers as Lehigh took a 4-0 early advantage.
After jumping out to a 12-6 lead halfway through the first half, the Lehigh offense went cold, managing just three points over the next six minutes as Lafayette climbed back into the game on a 17-3 run to take a 23-15 lead over the Mountain Hawks.
The Leopards continued their first half success, ending the half on another 10-5 run to take a 33-20 lead into the break. After missing its first four shots of the half, Lafayette made its next 13-of-21, shooting 52 percent from the field over the first half (13-of-25).
Kinek and senior co-captain Kelly Peterson were the leading scorers for Lehigh at the half, each with five points. Junior Hilary Weaver added three steals, entering the game fifth in the Patriot League with 1.6 steals per game. The Mountain Hawks shot 31 percent from the field (9-of-29), but could not find their range, going 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Lafayette’s first half scoring was largely made up of juniors Kelly Loughney and Danielle Fiacco, each with 10 points after the first 20 minutes. The two also combined to score the Leopards’ first 16 points. Fiacco led all rebounders with five boards as Lafayette won the battle on the boards, 22-11, over the first half of action.
The Leopards put Lehigh into a 17-point hole to start the second half, scoring the first four points, but Lehigh remained relentless. The Mountain Hawks battled back and after two treys from Guman with just under 15 minutes to play, Lehigh trailed by just eight. The next score for the Mountain Hawks seemed to shift momentum towards the brown and white as junior Alexandra Yantzi connected on the first three-pointer of her career to knock down Lafayette’s lead to just five.
After cutting the lead down to five, Lafayette responded with a 19-9 run over the next 10 minutes, including a three from sophomore Linnel Macklin which seemed to put the game out of reach with about two minutes to play as the Leopards lead grew to 62-47.
Lafayette coasted over the final two minutes for the 68-52 victory behind double figure scoring performances from four different Leopards. Guman led the Mountain Hawks with 13 points, all coming over the final 20 minutes, while Kinek added 10 for her eighth consecutive double-digit scoring performance and 15th of the season.
In her second game back from injury, Peterson played 19 minutes on the afternoon, totaling five points and two assists as she continues to work her way back for Lehigh.
"It was good to see her back into the line-up, but she still has a long way to go," said Troyan.
Lehigh shot 32 percent from the field for the game, but was able to connect on just four three-pointers out of 17 attempts (23.5 percent). The Mountain Hawks committed just 15 turnovers, but lost the battle on the boards 47-29 which equated to 13 second chance points for Lafayette. The Leopards also edged Lehigh in the paint 34-24, but the biggest component of Lafayette’s win was a 42-14 advantage in bench points.
Lehigh will now return home in search of its first Patriot League victory inside Stabler Arena on Wednesday, January 30 when it welcomes Navy into Bethlehem for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
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