After going back and forth between leading and trailing, the Lehigh women’s basketball team pulled out a 95-88 win in overtime against Monmouth University Friday evening at Stabler Arena.
Both teams took turns between leading and trailing until the last moments of the fourth quarter, where they tied it up at 81 points.
After a strong preseason the Mountain Hawks were eager for a victory at both the season and home opener. Junior point guard Kayla Burton emphasized that their preparation began over the summer.
“Preseason was important for us, as it always is,” Burton said. “This summer our team traveled to Europe and it was very cool to see how we compared to other teams. We won some games and lost some games, but it humbled out team to go into preseason working harder than ever. We were ready to get after it and took each and every workout seriously because we know the feeling of just missing the opportunity to win the championship game, so we are that much hungrier for it.”
Monmouth took a 15-10 lead in the first quarter until Lehigh scored a 3-pointer that eventually led to a run and a Hawks lead. The second quarter proved to be a struggle for the Mountain Hawks as Monmouth surged to 44-37 at halftime.
Turnovers seemed to plague Lehigh as 16 of them were converted into 21 points for Monmouth. The third quarter was as troubling as the first as fast break lay-ups and 3-pointers brought Monmouth’s lead to 61-56. Burton agrees that turnovers were a major challenge for them.
“The biggest challenge was the press,” Burton said. “Monmouth did a great job putting pressure on the ball and creating turnovers from it. We definitely let them get in our heads but toward the end of the game, we slowed down mentally and were able to figure it out. Practicing against pressure is something we will be working on more in practice after this game.”
The Mountain Hawks finally gained the lead back in the fourth quarter with under six minutes left, and the lead switched six more times until Lehigh took the lead again with under a minute to go at 78-75. At the end of the minute both teams were tied at 81 and they moved into overtime.
Monmouth took the lead 84-83 in just over a minute, but Lehigh regained the lead with 1:57 to go and never relinquished it. It outscored Monmouth 14-7 in overtime to seal a 95-88 victory.
Senior forward Kerry Kinek was 11-for-11 in free throws and scored 21 points along with junior forward Lexi Martins and sophomore guard Quinci Mann. Martins and Kinek had 20 and 14 rebounds, respectively, both registering a double-double. Lehigh shot 47.6 percent and held Monmouth at 34 percent despite the high number of turnovers.
“Monmouth’s speed definitely affected us in the game,” Kinek said. “But we were strong with our foul shooting at 30-for-36. This win definitely sets the tone for the rest of the season; we were really pumped to get the win.”
Burton said that starting off the season with a home win leaves the Mountain Hawks even hungrier to succeed as the season progresses. She added that they won’t be satisfied until they continue to defeat their opponents.
“I think it is really crazy and kind of cool that our first team win was in overtime because we showed ourselves in the first game of the season that we can compete, fight, come back, and win against competitive teams,” Burton said. “We are all excited and it is a good start to the season, but we are not content nor satisfied and we will continue to work harder and get better with each practice.”