Skip to main content

Sports Weekend, 1/14/2011: A Must-Win for the Lady Hawks?

In most circumstances, a 10-7 record in basketball - with five of those losses to the top 75 teams in the country, in terms of RPI - would be a reason for celebration in Bethlehem.

But for the Lady Hawks, who are two-time defending champions of the Patriot League and seemed in December to be oh-so-close to becoming a team capable of an upset in the NCAA tournament, the situation is very, very different.

First came the humbling home loss to American, 64-51 - on Lehigh's home court.  Losing at Stabler Arena?  That almost never happens.

But then came the nip-and-tuck game at Navy this past Wednesday, where the game ended with an offensive foul called on F Courtney Dentler with eleven seconds left (no, really, when was the last time you saw THAT happen in a Division I basketball game?), and a choice to shoot a two instead of a three at the end of the game meant that the Midshipwomen pulled off the "upset", 63-62.

In a year where Sue Troyan's Lady Hawks seemed poised to reach the next level, they now are in real danger of reaching 0-3 in the Patriot League. (more)

Anchored by the best women's basketball player to ever put on a Mountain Hawk uniform, G Erica Prosser, Troyan is a master at a selfless, spread-the-wealth offense that sees eight or nine or ten players get a chance to score in a given game.

But while Prosser, Dentler and F Emily Gratch have been putting down the buckets, two Achillies heels have appeared on this team.

First: the lack of a proven scoring threat outside the three all-League players. G Aly Byorick, F Becky Guman, F Kristen Dalton and C Alexa Williams have had flashes, haven't yet established themselves as go-to players on this team. If one of them can find some consistent scoring touch, it would help immensely.

The second: rebounding. Lehigh finds itself near the bottom of the Patriot League in a category where they've been normally much better: in rebounds per game (36.2) and rebounds allowed per game (39.2). Only one other teams has given up more rebounds than they've gotten - 5-12 Holy Cross.

To add to the challenge , a win at 8-8 Army, on the road, is hardly a given. The Lady Knights, led by F Erin Anthony on offense, are great at field goal defense, leading the Patriot League, and West Point has been one of the tougher places for the Lady Hawks to win as well.

There's a lot of action against the Academies this weekend, but the most crucial game for a Lehigh team to win this weekend might be up at West Point this Sunday at 2:00 PM. An 0-3 conference start could be a big hole that the Lady Hawks may not be able to dig out of.

Other Lehigh winter sports this weekend:

* While the Lady Hawks were playing a nip-and-tuck game vs. Navy at Annapolis, the men were playing a close game as well at Stabler - until the last two minutes. Led by the solid performance of F Gabe Knutson and a gigantic 3-point basket by G Michael Ojo, Lehigh rallied to a fantastic 71-63 victory.

“I was proud and pleased we were able to get this victory because it’s such a hard-fought win,” said head coach Brett Reed. “It was a slugfest, an extremely physical game. Neither team was able to get into rhythm, particularly due to the [other] team’s defensive intensity.”

Aside from Knutson's double-double (18 points, 14 boards), super sophomore G C. J. McCollum logged a double-double of his own (23 points, 11 boards) and F Holden Greiner also solidified his spot at forward with a 5 rebound, 5 point, 3 blocked shot, 4 steal performance in the win.

Barring injury, this weekend at Stabler will see McCollum reach 1,000 points if he can simply score 9 points against the 8-8 Knights, who got pulverized 68-54 against Holy Cross this past Wednesday. Army's huge strength is 3-point shooting, led by G Julian Simmons (17.2 ppg, 43.8% three-point shooting) and F Jeremy Hence (14.8 ppg, 43.1% three-point shooting). Crucial to Lehigh's chances this weekend is containing these two guys on the perimeter.

The match will take place Saturday at the STAR at 7:00 PM.

* In wrestling, Lehigh will take on Navy in Annapolis against one of their most-played EIWA opponents. Lehigh will meet Navy for the 91st time Saturday, making the Mids Lehigh’s second most often wrestled opponent behind Penn State.

Navy has wrestled just two duals this season, downing Franklin & Marshall on December 10 and dropping a 28-9 decision at No. 9 Oklahoma on January 7. Navy is led by All-American Bryce Saddoris, who is ranked seventh at 157, while Luke Rebertus is the only other ranked Midshipman, coming in at No. 11 at 184.

It's at 184 which should be the match of the day, when Rebertus faces off against Lehigh's Robert Hamlin. Hamlin wrestled back to finish third at the Midlands, and went 3-0 at the Virginia Duals including a 7-6 win over top-ranked Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming. That win helped Hamlin earn EIWA Wrestler of the Week honors. The Jonesville, Vermont native is now 17-1 on the season.

The match will take place at 7:00 PM from Halsey Field House in Annapolis.

All three games will have broadcasts available on Patriot League All-Access and LehighSports.com.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

What To Look For On Sunday For the FCS Playoff Pairings

Lehigh are the Patriot League Football Champs, and will be playing in the 1st round of the FCS playoffs.

The FCS Playoff Bracket is going to be revealed on ESPNU at 11:00AM on Sunday on a selection show.  The team will be watching the selections live at the Goosey Gander to find out who they will play, and where.

The chance that Lehigh will host a home playoff game appears to be very slim.  Though record is technically not in consideration for whether a team will host a first-round game, other considerations (the lack of lights, no Noon playoff starts) make it difficult if not impossible to host a playoff game at Murray Goodman unless temporary lights are brought in.

Being that's the case, it seems very likely that Lehigh will be playing somewhere on the road in the 1st round.  Below the flip, I will give the bracket predictions of the experts and three things I think you should watch for during the selection show.