BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Holy Cross sophomore guard Ashley Cooper (Colts Neck, N.J.) scored a career and team-best 19 points and connected on six of seven from behind the arc to help lead the Crusaders to a come-from-behind, 72-66, triumph over Lehigh on Sunday afternoon at Stabler Arena. Holy Cross snapped a 10-game losing streak versus the Mountain Hawks and improves to 12-11 on the season and 4-4 in the Patriot League. Lehigh falls to 10-13 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
The Mountain Hawks scored four quick points over the first 47 seconds of the game, but the Crusaders answered with an 11-2 rally to gain the 11-6 lead at the 13:15 mark of the first half. However, Lehigh would counter with a 13-3 scoring surge to go on top 19-14 with 9:20 left in the half.
Holy Cross junior guard Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) drilled a pair of threes to put the Crusaders back on top (20-19) at the 6:16 mark, but Lehigh then went ahead by five points just two minutes later (25-20). The Crusaders scored four straight to trail by one (25-24) with 1:48 on the clock, but the Mountain Hawks pushed their lead back to five and went into the locker room on top 29-24.
Lehigh kept the five point advantage over the first three-plus minutes of the second half as it led 34-29 (16:34). Holy Cross would then go on a 6-0 rally that was capped off with a Cooper three-pointer to put the Crusaders on top 35-34 at the 14:51 mark of the second half.
The two teams traded buckets over the next six minutes as there were five lead changes and three tied scores, but Lehigh held the 49-48 advantage. Holy Cross then embarked on a 16-6 run to grab its largest lead of the contest thus far (64-55) with 4:09 on the clock. Cooper drained a pair of threes as sophomore forward Emily Parker (Johnston, Iowa) scored five points for Holy Cross during the rally.
Lehigh put up seven quick points to trail 64-62, but Smith hit a momentum-shifting three-pointer to give the Crusaders the 67-62 lead with 1:27 left in regulation. Cooper, Parker and senior forward Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) combined to go five of six from the charity stripe over the next minute to push the lead to 10 points (72-62). Lehigh ended the contest with four points over the final 30 seconds, but that would not be enough as the Crusaders held on for the victory.
In addition to Cooper for Holy Cross, Smith finished the contest with 14 points on four treys, a season and game-high nine assists and six rebounds. Lepley scored 13 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds, while Parker posted nine points and a game-best nine rebounds. Junior forward Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) scored six points for HC, while freshman forward Raquel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J) hauled in six boards.
The Crusaders connected on 24 of their 56 shots in the game (42.9 percent), while the Mountain Hawks hit 41.4 percent from the field (24 of 58). Holy Cross shot lights out from downtown as it drained 13 of its 23 shots from behind the arc (56.5 percent), tying a school record for three-pointers in a game. Lehigh was limited to 4 of 19 on its three-point shots (21.1 percent). Holy Cross held advantages in rebounds (42-33), assists (22-19), offensive rebounds (12-6), second-chance points (16-11) and bench points (35-12).
The Crusaders return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 13, when they travel to Annapolis, Md. to take on Navy at 7:00 p.m.