Lehigh Sinks Leopards in League Opener
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lafayette women’s basketball team opened Patriot League play against rival Lehigh on Friday afternoon, falling to the Mountain Hawks by a final score of 70-45.
The Leopards move to 4-7 on the season and 0-1 in the Patriot League. Lehigh improves to 7-5 and 1-0 in league play.
Lehigh rode a hot streak from behind the arc all afternoon as the Mountain Hawks knocked down 15 shots from behind the arc at a 53 percent clip. Lafayette slipped behind early, but were able to chip away at the lead down low, outscoring Lehigh in the paint, 20-6. The Mountain Hawks were able to maintain their barrage from deep throughout the contest, keeping the Leopards at bay.
Natalie Kucowski carried the Leopards offense to start the first quarter, pouring in eight points over the first 6:09 as the Maroon and White headed into the media timeout down 10-8. Lehigh went on an 8-2 run coming out of the break to take an 18-10 lead behind two threes from Bernadette Devaney. The Mountain Hawks maintained their lead for the rest of the quarter, but Martino added two from the charity stripe and a floater at the end of the period to cut the lead to 21-16 at the first intermission.
Lehigh came out firing to start the second quarter, as Gena Grundhoffer and Quinci Mann combined for an 8-0 run over the first 2:44 of the second quarter to push their lead to 29-16. Sarah Agnello ended the run by knocking down a jumper with a hand in her face. The Maroon and White continued to chip away at the Mountain Hawks’ lead, as back-to-back buckets from Stipa and Ptasinski forced Lehigh into a timeout. Anna Ptasinski’s trey cut the deficit to 33-26, and the Leopards forced Lehigh into a shot clock violation on the next possession.
The Mountain Hawks were able to swing the momentum back in their favor as the half wound to a close, as Mann knocked down a trey with three seconds left on the clock to put Lehigh up 39-27 at the half. Lehigh was able to ride hot shooting from behind the arc throughout the second quarter going four-of-six from deep in the quarter.
The Leopards traded blows with Lehigh to start the third quarter, with Ptasinski finishing through a foul to get three the old fashioned way to bring the score to 40-32, Lehigh. Kucowski added two lay-ups to cut Lehigh’s lead to five with 6:50 to go in the quarter. The Mountain Hawks responded from behind the arc, knocking down three straight from deep to take a 50-36 lead. The Leopards added jumpers from Alexis Santarelli and Kucowski before the end of the quarter, but the Mountain Hawks stayed hot from deep, adding two more form behind the arc as the quarter came to a close.
The final quarter started off slowly, with neither side finding the bottom of the basket until the 7:00 mark. Lehigh struck first, opening the quarter on an 8-0 run, relying on the deep ball and free throws to build a 67-40. The Mountain Hawks maintained their lead as the final score read 70-45.
Kucowski led Lafayette with her fifth career double-double, ending the night with 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Leopards. This marks the first time a Lafayette player has finished with back-to-back double-doubles since Ashley Lutz ’17 accomplished the feat last season (2/25 – 3/1).
Ellen Graham swatted a career-best three shots and chipped in four points. Lafayette held the advantage on the glass, 44-36.
The Maroon and White are back in action on Jan. 2 when they head to Worcester to take on Holy Cross. Opening tip against the Crusaders is scheduled for 7 p.m.