Rally Falls Short for Women's Basketball
BETHLEHEM, Pa. –– A slim fourth quarter lead by Lehigh (8-5, 2-0 Patriot League) held up as the Mountain Hawks posted a 66-63 victory over the Navy (11-2, 1-1) women’s basketball team Tuesday night at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
“Lehigh played really well,” said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper.. “Their top three scorers scored really well tonight. Just credit them.”
Navy held a slim lead through the majority of the first quarter, then opened up several seven-point advantages in the second quarter. The last such seven-point cushion came with 3:47 left in the frame, after which the Mountain Hawks outscored the Mids 12-0 over the remainder of the the quarter to give Lehigh a 39-34 lead at the break.
It was just the second time this season Navy trailed through 20 minutes of play (three points at New Mexico).
Navy connected on a respectable 7-15 (46.7%) attempts in the second quarter, but Lehigh made 10-15 (66.7%) field goal attempts. This included a 3-4 (75%) effort from three-point range by the Mountain Hawks, which was in contrast to the Mids sinking 1-3 (33.3%) triples in the quarter and 2-9 (22.2%) from long range in the first half.
The Mids would go on a 6-0 run midway through the third quarter to take a slim 46-44 lead. The lead would change hands an additional three times in the waning minutes of the stanza, which ended with Lehigh holding a 50-49 advantage.
A Taylor Dunham (Sr., Fort Belvoir, Va.) triple would tie the game at 54-54 with 7:17 left on the clock, but Lehigh’s Quinci Mann drilled a three-point shot 15 seconds later to break what would turn out to be the final tie of the game. After a Dunham miss on the other end of the court, Mann connected on a jumper to push the Lehigh lead to five points.
The margin would grow no larger than five points over the rest of the game, with the Mids able to slice it down to as few as two points at 63-61 with 1:26 remaining to play. The difference became three points (64-61) with 71 seconds left on the clock after a Lehigh made free throw. Navy ran a great play on its next trip down the court, which left Molly Sanders (Jr., Ames, Iowa) with a great look at a game-tying three-point shot that narrowly missed the mark.
Lehigh missed a three-point shot on its ensuing possession with 29 seconds remaining to keep the difference at three points. Navy snared the carom and soon gave the ball to Dunham who drove down the heart of the lane only to lose control of the ball and have it knocked out of her hands and out of bounds with 18 seconds left.
The Mids sent Mann to the foul line two seconds later and she converted both attempts to make it a five-point game. Navy called timeout after her second make to advance the ball to halfcourt, after which Hannah Fenske (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) missed a three-point shot. Players from both teams scrambled for the ball leading to a tieup. The arrow pointed Navy’s way, and the Mids made the most of the extra chance as Bianca Roach (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) made a jumper with six seconds left to pull the Mids to within three points at 66-63.
Lehigh called timeout to advance the ball itself, but Sanders stole the ball after it was inbounded. Lehigh committed a foul with the ball still in the backcourt and with exactly one second left to play. The Mountain Hawks were not yet over the limit, meaning the Mids, who were out of timeouts, would have to inbound the ball from about 10 feet from halfcourt on the Lehigh side of the floor.
Sanders triggered the inbounds play, and her pass found Dunham moving toward the Navy basket about 10 feet short of the three-point line. Her attempt –– one year after she sank a 30-foot shot at the buzzer to give Navy a dramatic 66-64 victory at Lehigh –– hit the backboard, the front of the rim and the back of the rim before falling to the ground.
“It was a good game,” said Pemper. “I thought even though they (Lehigh) played better than us for much of it, Taylor had a pretty good look at a three to tie it and send it into overtime. We had good possessions. Molly had a great three late off of a set we ran. Kaila Clark (So., Hughesville, Md.) found her. We did miss some layups, which is tough. You don’t ever want your players to feel it is not their night. We talked about that in timeouts and to just compete through that feeling.”
Navy shot 37.7 percent from the floor in the game and made just 5-25 (20%) three-point shots. The Mids, who entered their game last Friday against Loyola averaging 9.8 triples made a game, are now 7-27 (20%) from three-point land over their last two games.
Lehigh made 42.1 percent of its field goal attempts in the game and converted 8-18 (44.4%) three-point shots on the night.
Both teams shot the ball well from the foul line as the Mids were 12-14 (85.7%) and the Mountain Hawks were 10-11 (90.9%).
Lehigh held a slim lead in rebounds (39-32), with Navy forcing 19 turnovers and committing 13 turnovers of its own.
“It wassn’t our best shooting night, wasn’t our best rebounding night,” said Pemper. “They had a little bit better energy. We won the turnover battle, but not the assist battle, which we often do. We shot free throws great.”
Dunham led the Mids with 16 points, Sophie Gatzounas (Fr., South Hadley, Mass.) totaled 12 points and seven rebounds, and Roach scored 10 points to reach double figures for the second game in a row.
“Laurel Jaunich (So., So., Charlotte, Vt.) gave us some good minutes and hit some big shots (eight points). Sophie the same. It is important we get contributions from multiple people and not just our leading scorers.
Mann scored 21 points to lead all players.
Navy will next be in action Friday when the Mids play at American.
“Our coaches have to respond to this,” said Pemper. “We have a really tough American team coming up and we have to give our players a great game plan and then see if we can execute it.”