The Lafayette women’s basketball team looks for a season sweep against archrival Lehigh on Saturday evening inside Stabler Arena. The Leopards (11-15, 4-7) take on the Mountain Hawks (13-13, 5-6) for the second time this season at 7:30 p.m. Lafayette holds a 42-40 advantage over Lehigh in its history and the Maroon and White took the last meeting on Jan. 26 in Easton, 68-52. Lafayette has not swept the season series with Lehigh since 2008.
LEOPARDS’ LAST TIME OUT
Despite multiple efforts from the Maroon and White to climb in front of the Crusaders on Wednesday evening, Holy Cross responded to every run and came away with the 69-58 victory. Sophomore co-captain Emily Homan tallied a season-high 22 points and contributed 11 boards on the night for her seventh double-double of the season.
Along with Homan, classmate Linnel Macklin added 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. The Leopards (11-15, 4-7) went 21-for-62 from the field for the game (33.9%) compared to 28-for-57 (49.1%) shooting from the Crusaders (14-12, 6-5). Holy Cross’ Amy Lepley led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Brisje Malone and Alex Smith added 15 and 13, respectively for the team from Worcester, Mass.
The Crusaders shot a blistering 53.8 percent from the field in the second half to put the game away. They held a 39-38 advantage on the glass and a 34-24 edge in points in the paint. One bright spot for the Leopards came in second-chance points as they notched 15 to Holy Cross’ eight.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAIN HAWKS
The Mountain Hawks come into Saturday afternoon’s Patriot League matchup at 13-13 overall and 5-6 in the conference. Picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll, Lehigh currently stands alone in fifth place in the league. The Mountain Hawks enter the game winners of three straight over American, Colgate and Bucknell. The Leopards took the first meeting with their rival this season, 68-52 in Easton.
Freshman forward Kerry Kinek leads the Mountain Hawks in scoring (13.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg), ranking second in the Patriot League in both categories. The Whitehall, Pa. native has been named Patriot League Rookie of the Week five times, most recently, Feb. 18. The rookie also leads the team in blocked shots with 42.
Sophomore Katie O’Reilly is second on the team in scoring at 8.4 ppg. Junior Hilary Weaver leads the Mountain Hawks in assists (74) and steals (39). Seniors Kelly Peterson and Becky Guman are Lehigh’s biggest threats from beyond the arc, draining 46 threes between them on the year.
The Mountain Hawks are second in the Patriot League in rebounding (41.9 per game) and rebounding margin (+5.0 per game).
ROAMING THE SIDELINE
Lafayette head coach Dianne Nolan enters today’s matchup with a career record of 547-472 and a 30-56 mark in her third year at Lafayette. On the other side, Lehigh head coach Sue Troyan is in her 18th season with the Mountain Hawks, holding a career mark of 285-242.
With her five rebounds in the game against Holy Cross on Wednesday evening, junior Danielle Fiacco moved into the 10th spot in the Lafayette record books for career rebounds with 616. Additionally, Fiacco is one board shy of the 200-rebound plateau and is in line to become just the seventh player in Lafayette history to snag more than 200 rebounds in multiple seasons. Fiacco grabbed 248 boards in 2011-12.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Lafayette owns a 42-40 lead in an all-time series that dates back to Feb. 4, 1975 – the 16th game played by the Leopards as a varsity program. Lafayette is 24-14 against its historic rival at Kirby Sports Center and 15-24 when the two teams convene in Bethlehem. Including Patriot League Tournament play, both teams have notched a win in the series in four of the last seven campaigns, but Lafayette has not swept the series since 2008.
Head coach Dianne Nolan’s halftime speeches have been working this season, as the Leopards have clearly been a second-half team so far this year. Lafayette has posted a higher number in the second half compared to the first in 19 of its 26 games in 2012-13. Against Providence (12/30), the Leopards doubled their first-half output in the second, putting up 36 points in the final 20 minutes compared to 18 points in the opening stanza.
Additionally, the overtime loss to Navy was Lafayette’s first loss this season when leading going into the halftime break. The Leopards were down by 16 at the break on Feb. 16 versus Bucknell, but came out on fire with a 34-18 second-half advantage and an 11-6 overtime edge.
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