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Lehigh Weekend: Lady Hawks Shoot For 29th Straight Home Win

This weekend on the hardwood at 3:30 PM, the Lady Hawks (18-3, Real Time RPI: 75) might be tempted to look past 6-15 Holy Cross (Real Time RPI: 271) due to the fact that the team they trail in the Patriot League standings - American - comes to Stabler this coming Wednesday.

That might normally be the case - for just about any opponent except Holy Cross.

The Lady Crusaders have always been the team that the Lady Hawks have always struggled to beat.  The all-time record?  Try 37-8 - in favor of the ladies in purple.  While last year was a rare sweep of Holy Cross by Lehigh, in the postseason the Lady Crusaders have owned the Lady Hawks - winning all seven matchups in the tournament, including an overtime heartbreaker a couple of years ago.

Lehigh's women's basketball team likes to think about streaks - 29 straight win at home, six straight wins anywhere.  But head coach Sue Troyan would undoubtedly be satisfied with three straight wins against Holy Cross.  (more)



Home Win No. 28 for the Lady Hawks was an absolute whitewash of Bucknell, 69-47.  How dominating was it?  The Lady Hawks surged to a 17-2 lead in the first 10 minutes of play.  During the game, they forced 27 turnovers and at one point were ahead by 27 points.  Sophomore F Emily Gratch was able to overwhelm the overmatched Bucknell frontcourt, scoring 22 points (out of 46 points in the paint) off the bench, and junior G Kristen Dalton (12 points, 7 assists) also added great production from the bench, too. 

This Saturday's game, however, won't be as much of a mismatch.  The Lady Crusaders have a multitude of  threats like senior G Bethany O'Dell (13.5 ppg), senior G Briana McFadden (13.0 ppg) and junior F Whitney Fremeau (12.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) that promise balanced scoring and the potential at any time to keep up the scoring pace.  Also, their record is deceiving: head coach Bill Gibbons has tested his team with the best of the best (UConn, Boston College, Penn State and Vermont).

In order to make No. 29 a reality, Lehigh will need to control the boards and keep up the suffocating defense.  Troyan may need to look to senior G Tricia Smith (6.6 rpg), junior F Courtney Dentler (5.0 rpg) and sophomore C Alexa Williams (6.1 rpg) to maintain a huge rebounding edge - and hopefully, another Lehigh home court victory.

(With any sort of luck, my family and I will be at Stabler to watch the victory.)

The game will be broadcast on Service Electric 2 in the Lehigh Valley, featuring Mike Zambelli and Jim Wills on the call.  (The video feed will also be available online on Patriot League All-Access.)  The free radio call will be available on Lehighsports.com, featuring Jeff Tourial and Jeff Abramowicz.

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From one streak Lehigh fans love to ponder to one we'd rather not think about.  The men (13-8, Real Time RPI: 186) travel to Worcester ton Sunday to take on 5-16 Holy Cross (Real Time RPI: 277) in a place where they have lost 13 straight games: the Hart Center.  You read that right: thirteen straight games.

The men aren't exactly heading up to Worcester with positive momentum after Bucknell escaped Sojka Pavillion with an 81-76 overtime victory last Wednesday.  While many basketball fans were tempted to turn off their video and audio feeds when Lehigh had a 10 point lead with just under 4 minutes to play, Bison senior G G.W. Boon caught fire, hitting a couple 3 pointers to cut the deficit.

In the last two minutes two missed calls - a no-call on senior G Marquis Hall getting sent to the ground on an inbound, leading to a 5-second clock violation, and a mystery foul on senior G Dave Buchburger that sent freshman C Mike Muscala to the line to tie the game - contributed heavily to Bucknell's comeback.  Having said that, in the overtime Bucknell did what they had to do by dominating the boards (outrebounding Lehigh 37-27 for the game) and super freshman G C. J. McCollum or Hall ultimately could not sink a shot to win the game.

Holy Cross - once again, despite their record - has the sort of offense and tough rebounding team that can exploit a lackluster defensive afternoon by Lehigh.  With sophomore G R.J. Evans (13.7 ppg) and sophomore F Mike Cavataio (10.5 ppg) providing inside-outside scoring, junior G Andrew Beinart (9.8 ppg) and junior F Andrew Keister (9.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg) can also, if they get going, cause problems for senior F Zahir Carrington and company.

Getting one of the young forwards on our bench to step up their rebounding- sophomore F Holden Grenier or sophomore F John Adams - might help Lehigh finally escape the Hart Center with a win.  "Jay-Zee" will have to have a good game to make the Crusader fans "cry", but the key to the game might be some of the guys that you don't always think about.

The game is going to be broadcast live on CBS College Sports at noon, featuring John "The Last Amateurshttp://www.lehighsports.com/info/broadcast/" Feinsteinand Bob Socci on the call, while on the world wide interwebs you can hear the radio broadcast on Lehighsports.com, featuring Matt Kerr and Jeff Tourial on the call.

*****

Finally, in Rauch field house, the Lehigh track teams will face off against "that school in Easton in an effort to continue their dominance over the Leopards.  I don't usualy pay attention to track & field that much, but when Lafayette is involved....  Leopards for Lunch!

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