WORCESTER, Mass. – The Holy Cross women's basketball team saw a 13-point lead fall apart in the final minutes of the second half, dropping a 75-73 decision to Lehigh at the Hart Center. With the final, the Crusaders move to 13-10 (4-4 Patriot League) on the season while the Mountain Hawks collect a record of 13-9 (6-2 PL). Junior Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) led the team with 22 points, tying her career-high, and earned the Rev. George L. O'Brien Homecoming Award.
The Crusaders and Mountain Hawks played to an early 11-11 tie after the first five minutes of action as freshman Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) hit two baskets in the paint. Lehigh went up by as much as four points over the next five minutes, but scrappy defense and three straight jump shots by sophomores Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.), Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.) and Lepley boosted Holy Cross to a 24-22 lead at 8:46. Four lead changes and one tie followed as Lepley hit a three-pointer to give the Crusaders a 32-29 edge with 4:04 left in the half. The Crusaders outscored Lehigh 8-6 in the closing minutes of the stanza as Lepley hit another three with four seconds left, giving the squad a 40-35 lead at halftime. The Crusaders shot 51.5 percent (17 of 33) from the floor over the first 20 minutes as Lepley led all scorers with 12 points.
Sophomore Alex Smith (Delran. N.J.) knocked down her third three-point shot of the game in the opening minutes of the second half as Holy Cross pulled out to a 46-39 edge. Lehigh chipped away at the Holy Cross lead, pulling within two-points, 54-52, at the 11:25 mark. The Crusaders answered with a 12-2 run, earning a 63-54 lead as Smith hit her fourth three-pointer in the stretch. Lepley scored her eighth basket in the contests at 6:40, giving Holy Cross an 11-point lead, 71-60. Two free throws made by Malone put Holy Cross up by a game-high 13 points, 73-60, before Lehigh rallied for a 12-0 run, pulling within one point, 73-72, at 2:50. Lehigh's Kelly Peterson completed the Mountain Hawks comeback, hitting a three-point shot at 1:02. Holy Cross could not hit another basket as a three-pointer by Malone missed the mark as time expired. With the final play, the Crusaders fell by the final 75-73 score.
In the game, Holy Cross shot 46.2 percent from the floor (30 of 65) while Lehigh shot 48.5 percent (32 of 66). The Crusaders won the rebounding battle, 38-31, as Parker and senior Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) led the Crusaders with eight boards apiece. Two other players finished in double-figures for Holy Cross as Smith and Parker finished with 18 and 15 points respectively. Lehigh was led by senior Alexa Williams with 23 points.
Holy Cross hosts Navy next on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The Midshipmen travel to Worcester for a 7:00 p.m. at the Hart Center. The Crusaders won the first game of this season's series, 55-38.