The Lehigh women’s basketball team’s 2009-2010 season marked a dominant few months in program history. Almost a decade ago, the team won its second straight Patriot League title and boasted a stellar record of 29-4, remaining an undefeated 16-0 at home.
The players created a special team not only from their basketball talent, but from “the way they fit together both on and off the court as a highly competitive group that pushed each other,” said then-men’s basketball assistant coach Glenn Rigney.
Fifth-year player Tricia Smith,‘10, and freshman Kelly Peterson, ‘13, agreed with Rigney’s sentiments that the bonds they had with one another made the team so memorable.
Smith said chasing a second Patriot League title was a significant motivator for the entire team. The ‘09-’10 team was a competitive group that pushed each other daily and were close knit on and off the court, Smith said.
“We wanted to win for one another and the coaches, and I think that’s what made this team special,” Smith said.
The ‘09-’10 women’s basketball team’s 29-4 record remains the best either the men’s or women’s programs have ever had.
For Peterson, the best friends she made in college were her teammates, who continue to be close to this day.
As a first-year player that season, she recalls having a solid group of upperclassmen who led the way for everything they did.
“Coming in as a freshman, that season really paved the way for the level of success we felt we should strive for the rest of my time at Lehigh,” Peterson said.
A junior at the time, Erica Prosser, ‘11, remembered how confident her team was that season, as well as the players’ serious work ethic and drive to improve. Their championship the year before showed they could do it again, and the upperclassmen had instilled high standards in them that they carried over to ‘09-’10, she said.
Prosser said they had a lot of trust in each other to bring their best everyday — not just to games — but to practice, lifts and school. Their chemistry translated to the court, and that made them unstoppable, Prosser said.
The ‘09-’10 Patriot League Championship title remains the team’s most recent.
Rigney said the back-to-back titles were special. He said this team probably had a little more basketball skill than the team the year before, but it also had high expectations and pressure to live up to, Rigney said.
The players were confident playing at Stabler Arena, and it was important to them to get the No. 1 seed from the regular season, which gave them the home court for the Patriot League Championship game.
After winning the Patriot League title, the team went on to play Iowa State in the NCAA tournament. The Mountain Hawks fell to the Cyclones 79-42.
Going undefeated at home felt incredible, Prosser said. She said they had accumulated a solid fanbase that included local Lehigh Valley fans, as well as a decent number of Lehigh students.
“Women’s sports don’t often draw crowds like we did, but (the fans’) dedication to us gave us the energy we needed to keep winning at home,” Prosser said. “It was really special,\ and one of my favorite memories of that year.”
Peterson remembers Iowa State having one of the best attendance records in women’s basketball and recalls a packed arena with high energy throughout the game. She loved getting to represent Lehigh on a national scale.
Smith said the Iowa State game was the most disappointing loss in her career, as they matched up well with their players and had a good chance to win if they had executed their game plan. At the end of the game, she wasn’t ready for her basketball season to end.
While Prosser said the team was talented and a fair match for Iowa State, the players did not play their best that day. Overall though, she remained satisfied with their accomplishment.
“I was really proud of our team for fighting until the final buzzer,” Prosser said.