BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Holy Cross women's basketball team would mount a late comeback, outscoring Lehigh 21-5 in the second part of the second half, but could not completely overcome a 17-point deficit, falling to the Mountain Hawks 58-52 at Stabler Arena. With the loss, the Crusaders end the first round of Patriot League action with a 6-16 record (2-5 Patriot League) while the Mountain Hawks post a 19-3 record (6-1 Patriot League). Senior Tayana Carper (Shrewsbury, Mass.) scored a season-high 14 points after collecting a career-high six field goals made to lead Holy Cross scorers.
Five points from junior Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.), including a three-point shot made, helped Holy Cross to an early 7-6 edge over Lehigh to start the first half of play. The Crusaders continued to maintain a one-point lead, 9-8, at the 11:57 mark as both teams did not notch a basket in over two minutes of play. Five unanswered points by Lehigh followed as the Mountain Hawks took hold of a 13-12 lead at the midway point. Lehigh took a two-possession lead, 17-12, before two back-to-back baskets from Fremeau and Carper brought the score to 17-16 with 4:32 on the game clock. The Mountain Hawks outscored the Crusaders 9-3 in the final four minutes as Holy Cross found itself down by seven points, 26-19, at the halftime. Fremeau led the team with seven points as Holy Cross went six-for-21 (.286) from field goal range in the first stanza. Lehigh sank nine of its 24 attempts for a .375 field goal percentage.
Lehigh started the second half hot offensively, making three of its four field goal attempts to go up by a 32-21 lead at 17:29. The Mountain Hawks would continue to capitalize defensively, scoring four points off of two Holy Cross turnovers and taking a 14-point lead, 36-22 at 15:32. The Crusaders climbed back within seven points, 38-31, at 12:50 after sophomore Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) knocked down her first three-point shot of the game. Lehigh mounted a damaging 10-0 run next to earn its largest lead of 17 points, 48-31, at the 7:22 mark. Holy Cross would break a five minute scoring drought to outscore Lehigh 12-3, including six points from Carper over the next three minutes, pulling within eight points, 51-43. Ward came through for seven points in the final three minutes of play, including a three-point shot made with 10 seconds left on the game clock, giving the Crusaders a fighting chance, 56-52. The Holy Cross comeback was too late, however, as Lehigh hit two free throws to round out the game, finalizing a 58-52 victory over Holy Cross. The Crusaders held Lehigh to its second-lowest field goal percentage of the season, 35 percent, but could not break the home game win streak, as the Mountain Hawks have now won 29 straight at Stabler Arena.
Carper's team-high of 14 points was followed by two additional double-digit scorers, Fremeau and Ward. Ward scored her total of 10 points in the second half while Fremeau added an additional 11 points. Senior Briana McFadden (Wheaton, Md.) brought down a team-high six rebounds as Holy Cross was outrebounded 45-30 overall.
Holy Cross will begin its second round of Patriot League action beginning next Saturday, Feb. 6 against Lafayette. The Crusaders will travel to Easton, Pa. to try and avenge the 43-39 loss suffered earlier this season beginning at 1:00 p.m.