It went down to the very end - and two huge defensive stops at the end of the game - but Sue Troyan's squad held on for a gutty 72-70 win in a venue where Lehigh has been 2-18 (now 3-18) lifetime. Balanced scoring - and, yes, unselfish play - has allowed the Lady Hawks to soar to sole possession of first place in the Patriot League.
The Lady Hawks soared to a 6-0 lead, thanks to a pair of treys from junior G Alex Ross (whe ended the afternoon with a game-high 20 points and 7 rebounds) and appeared on their way to a laugher while jumping to a 13 point halftime lead. Sophomore G Erica Prosser failed to break double digits for the first time for what seems like forever - clearly Holy Cross made it a point to pressure her all game - but she responded with 9 assists, including a huge one to senior G Tricia Smith (11 points, 4 rebounds) with 30 seconds to play to increase the lead to 3 points.
17-5 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 91) now enjoys a week of rest before the final game of their brutal three-game road trip at American.
On the men's side, Lehigh hung tough with a physical Holy Cross team that brought full-court pressure almost the entire game. For about 30 minutes Lehigh hung tough - but finally wilted in front of the onslaught. Tied at 42 with 10 minutes to play, Holy Cross would hold Lehigh to 10 points the rest of the way in a 67-52 defeat in Stabler.
Junior G Marquis Hall led Lehigh with 14 points, but also turned over the ball four times (Lehigh as a team turned over the ball 16 times):
''It was tough,'' Hall said. ''We just didn't execute well down the stretch and they just continued to get baskets.''
''In those situations we just have to be able to come up with stops, and then execute down on our end in order to put ourselves in a position to win. They hit us kind of quick.''
Once again, junior F Zahir Carrington came up big for the Mountain Hawks with 9 points and 11 boards, while sophomore G Rob Keefer also added 7 rebounds on an afternoon where Lehigh would nab 37 rebounds. But aside from Carrington and Hall, no Lehigh hoopster would score more than 6 points on the afternoon - a recipie for a loss against the first-place team in the Patriot League.
13-8 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 221) will have plenty to prove this coming weekend when defending Patriot League champion American comes to Stabler. Win that game, and Lehigh could prove to be a factor in this Patriot League title race. Lose, and the story of the 2008 Mountain Hawks may very well be set as a team that doesn't has the depth, consistency or physicality to finish basketball games.