Skip to main content

No. 15 Lehigh vs. No. 2 Auburn, 12:00PM, ESPN2

The Lady Hawks are going to the RAC to try to shock the world, and I'll be there reporting and commenting about it, live, at courtside.

Here's the keys to the game for Lehigh:

1. It's going to take everybody. The Lady Hawks' depth is what have taken them this far. They'll have to do the same things they've done all year in order to pull off the upset - no intimidation factor allowed. The same jumpshots that put away Lafayette can also put away Auburn.

2. Get Ross involved early. Junior G Alex Ross, when she's on, can shoot the lights out. Getting her in rhythm - preferably, to jump to a quick lead - would be a huge boost.

3. Prosser vs. Bonner. Sophomore G Erica Prosser is known for offense, but it could be her defense - and how she handles one of the best point guards in the nation, senior G DeWanna Bonner - that could be key to a historic upset.

Here we go!

12:17 p.m. I'm here at courtside. Lehigh fans dominate and they are LOUD. Students at both ends under the basket. It should feel like a Lehigh home game (albeit a home game which has five times the number of people).

12:23 p.m. 15:44 to play, Auburn 6, Lehigh 4. A lusty "Auburn Sucks!" comes out of the student section to my right. Cheerleaders come out and (basically) serenade the student section. A loud "Let's go Lehigh!". Yes, I was like that once.

Auburn G DeWanna Bonner sure can shoot the ball. So does G Whitney Boddie. Made nice soft jumpshots early. To Lehigh's credit, they are not intimidated. Junior G Alex Ross faked a 3 and got the easy jump shot from two right in front of me.

12:31 p.m. Auburn 25, Lehigh 7. 11:51 to play. Shots not falling early for Lehigh. Not a good start. Senior G Tricia Smith got a 3 ball, but Auburn's athleticism is painfully evident. They're getting a lot of blocked shots. Next to me, someone mentions that Boddie could be the best point guard in the country with 8 apg. Bonner is killing Lehigh with 10 points underneath already.

Bonner goes to the line, the Lehigh fans, well, heckle her. I'll leave it at that. Auburn's band is one awesome band. For the (male and female) cheerleaders, it must be weird to chant "Let's go Auburn" to a crowd loaded with scarlet and brown.

It's already on the verge of getting out of hand. Head coach Sue Troyan will have to get her troops settled down to have a chance. I don't think the die is cast yet.

12:41 p.m. Auburn 31, Lehigh 14. 7:58 1st half. Lehigh settled down and made a run, but Auburn matched them shot for shot. A charge was overturned and a personal foul called on G Erica Prosser, a questionable call (well, yes I'm a homer).

The other way, an Auburn player kicks the ball on a loose ball. "You can't do that!" rings out from the student section. Give the students credit, they have not lost any energy. It is really a home atmosphere right now. Also, if Lehigh makes a run, I could absolutely see the scarlet fans join in on the fun. The small Auburn crew is no match, though you hear small whoops during every Bonner jumpshot.

That's what makes 1st round basketball so fun. Old and new allegiances.

12:51 p.m. Auburn 36, Lehigh 20, Up and down, Lehigh called for traveling. Students swear their disapproval. EVERY foul on Lehigh is "contested" by the fans. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Ross looks a bit out of sorts. She has not gotten a chance to heat up, leading one to believe that Auburn really did their homework. Smith, on the ground, went right after the loose ball, but lost it out of bounds. Lehigh is really clawing out there, but Auburn is using their athleticism well and getting position under the basket effectively.

Troyan is going to the bench to get some production. F Courtney Molinaro got a nice running hook shot to cut it to 16.

1:01 p.m. Auburn 45, Lehigh 30, halftime. Rutgers bumps me from courtside, making me really regret I didn't put a huge neon bumper sticker on my laptop with "Lehigh Football Nation". I had to climb through the crowd, laptop and all, to get my freakin' seat. On the plus side, it's a better view of the action. Really.

My "spot" courtside, which was reserved for a "scout" that didn't exist, is now vacant. Thought I'd mention that. I wonder if I should go ask Rebecca Lobo (doing the game for ESPN2) if there's some free room next to her.

Lehigh ended on a 4-0 run to close the gap by halftime, with a 3 by junior G Alex Ross and a free throw by freshman C Alexa Williams. Lehigh is settling down. As a Lehigh fan, I'm hoping Troyan has a foolproof gameplan coming out of the locker room for the second half.

Auburn looks as advertised - one of the best teams in the country, and a real threat to make the Final Four. Lehigh has done their best to slow down Bonner, but it's almost a lost cause. She has an easy jumpshot and somehow manages to get lost when Lehigh focuses on the 3-point shot. At halftime, she has 17 points and it's easy to picture her getting 34. Nothing against Lehigh, but she is one really good player.

Halftime is the classy Auburn band, playing that old standard "Rosanna" by Toto. (Didn't I hear that played in high school?) In contrast, the Lehigh cheer squad comes out to a hip-hop medley tailed with Busta Rhymes. Leave it to Auburn to make Lehigh seem "urban". (Can I say that?)

Auburn's band, with no evident sense of irony, now belts out a Beach Boys medley. Can "Be True to your School" be far off? Meanwhile, I sense the Lehigh cheerleaders are somewhere finishing off their moves to a tune ripped off a P-Funk album.

1:31 p.m. Auburn 54, Lehigh 34, 15:56 to play. Someone is now sitting in my scouting seat, making me feel a little less bad.

Bonner is one great player, connecting on a running jumper with a soft touch. Lehigh doesn't get many second chance points since Bonner is there to pick up the missed shots. There, she got another rebound. What's that, her 10th?

Auburn F Trevesha Jackson misses a free throw, and the student section takes full credit.

Lehigh is playing tough, and not giving up, fighting to get back in this. This is way different from 1997, when I was wondering if UConn would win by more than 100 points against Lehigh at this juncture. If they're going to shock the world, though, they'll need to shut down Auburn's offense better - and stick the free throws.

"Clutch" the Mountain Hawk gets the Lehigh section riled up along with the cheerleaders. He tries to get the Scarlet faithful to join in... but no dice. Tough New Jersey crowd.

(I'm sticking to the "5 live blog postings per half" NCAA restriction. So if you don't see any blogging for a while, now you know. I need to make these count.)

1:44 p.m. Auburn 69, Lehigh 49, 7:38 to play. A call goes against Lehigh? The refs hear it from the Lehigh faithful. Freshman F Emily Gratch tries to steal the ball, but it goes out of bounds. No quit from the Lady Hawks!

So quick when you make a mistake. Auburn grabs the rebound and goes down the length of the court to get an easy lay-up. C Keke Carrier comes off the bench (all 6'7 of her) and gets some easy buckets. But Prosser shows NO QUIT, stealing the ball, going up against Carrier and drawing the foul. No fear from Prosser!

Prosser puts down the free throws, and then calmly makes a 3 on the other end. Carrier throws the ball out of bounds, and Lehigh gets the ball back. You sense some hope. Actually, incredibly, hope has never left the building. Meanwhile Auburn head coach Nell Fortner quitely puts Bonner and Hilliard back in. They want to crush Cinderella before she gets to the dance.

The Prosser show continues, drawing another foul. Prosser misses one and makes one. A Hilliard 2 and - guess who - Prosser gets the bucket. Lehigh tries to go uptempo, but Auburn has an answer with G Ally Smalley's 3 pointer that hit every part of the rim.

My brain tells me this is basically over. Lehigh is not going to be National Champions (as I picked in one of my ESPN Women's Tourney Challenge brackets). But I really like Lehigh's fight here, and Prosser is one scrappy player. There is no quit in her.

2:01 p.m. Auburn 77, Lehigh 49, 3:50 to play. Auburn's band plays that old Gary Glitter standard "Rock and Roll part two", and Lehigh's students add a "Go Lehigh" to the end of it. The band is simply outnumbered. Just wait until Monday.

Auburn G Sherell Hobbs gets an inadvertent elbow from senior F Haly Crites. Immediately Crites is at her side checking on here. Crites rightfully got the foul, her third. Hobbs immediately misses the free throw. In all honesty, Auburn seems to be genuinely thrown by Lehigh's fan support.

Lehigh just is not getting second shot opportunities under the basket. The amount of offensive rebounds they have I must be able to count on one hand.

A whoop comes up from the crowd. No, not trying to distract C KeKe Carrier's foul shot - the Rutgers Lady Knights have just entered the building. So much for that "crowd going for the underdog" thing. They're here for one reason, and one reason only: to watch Rutgers.

Well, except for that kid in Scarlet with the "Go Lehigh" placard. Bless the younger generation.

In unrelated news, my NCAA men's tournament bracket is looking about as healthy as Lehigh's chances at the national championship. That's what I get for taking UCLA to make the Final Four.

2:05 p.m. Auburn 81, Lehigh 49, 1:32 to play. My women's national championship bracket with Lehigh as national champion is wrecked. (Fortunately, I have nine more, most of which have UConn winning it all.) But Lehigh has competed, and so have the fans.

Auburn is so fast in transition. There's another basket.

Auburn 85, Lehigh 49, final. That wraps it up for me. Lehigh's team gets a standing ovation as it leaves the court, and a huge whoop from the Brown & White near courtside.

Lehigh had no answer underneath for Bonner, who had what seemed like 59 points and 39 rebounds underneath. She's a great player - and Auburn showed why they're such a highly-regarded team. They'll be a tough team to dislodge in the tournament, and I'm not sure VCU or Rutgers will be able to do it on Monday.

It was a great following here with a vocal crowd in favor of Lehigh. (Too bad the Scarlet folks didn't play along.)

Thanks for following!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…