Feb. 2, 2013
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Army women’s basketball finished the first seven-game cycle of Patriot League games with a 61-56 win at Lehigh, its first win at Stabler Arena since 2007. The Black Knights halted their two-game losing streak thanks to a resurgence by senior guard Anna Simmers who tallied a game-high 21 points despite getting into early foul trouble. Army is 5-2 through the first half of conference play for the first time since 2007-08 as the Black Knights sit in a tie for second place in the league standings.
Simmers recorded her first double-digit scoring effort since going for 11 against Navy on Jan. 20 after averaging just 3.7 points per game the previous three contests. Army’s lone senior to see the court tonight, Simmers had a game-high 11 at intermission despite picking up her third foul with over four minutes remaining in the stanza.
Army (16-6, 5-2) boasted four double-digit scorers on the night for the second time this season. Simmers was joined by junior Jen Hazlett who had her second consecutive 15-point game, as well as freshmen Kelsey Minato (11) and Aimee Oertner (10).
The Black Knights went into the locker room at halftime with the lead (25-24) for the first time in three games, yet the one-point differential told little of the story. Army broke out to a 10-3 lead after Simmers and junior Jen Hazlett sunk a pair of three-pointers, and the Black Knights led by as many as nine with six minutes left in the half before the Mountain Hawks began chipping away. Lehigh (10-12, 2-5) finished the half on a 10-2 run, capped by a last-second three-pointer by Kelly Peterson.
The game remained within two possessions for the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Army not getting more than five points away from the Mountain Hawks even with a bevy of fouls called against the Black Knights. Lehigh was into the bonus after just seven minutes in the second as Simmers, Hazlett, Oertner, Minato and sophomore Olivia Schretzman were all playing with three fouls apiece.
Thankfully for Army, the Mountain Hawks shot below their free-throw percentage average of nearly 72 percent, making just 14 of 21 attempts on the night.
Army gained its largest lead of the night with 7:39 to play, 47-37, after Oertner laid it in off the dish from Hazlett. Lehigh rebounded with a 6-0 run to cut the difference to 51-47 in favor of the Black Knights with 4:41 left, before Simmers notched back-to-back layups before the under-four media timeout.
Lehigh answered Simmers’ buckets with another 6-0 run to make it a two-point game, 55-53, with 1:56 left. After that, however, it was all Army, highlighted by a game-changing inbounds feed from Hazlett to Oertner from in front of Army’s bench into the paint, where Oertner laid it in uncontested with 52 seconds left.
After Peterson missed a three-point attempt with 21 seconds left, Minato was fouled and made both free-throws to nearly seal the game. Lehigh made one last charge with a three by Elizabeth Jordan with five seconds left, but Army was able to get the ball inbounds and run out the clock.
The Black Knights shot above 40 percent for the first time since Jan. 20, totaling a 43.1-percent clip on the night on 22-of-51 shooting. Even more impressive, Army was clutch from the charity stripe, making 11 of 13 attempts, including 8-of-9 in the second half. The Black Knights also won the battle of the boards, 38-33, led by Simmers’ and Schretzman’s eight caroms apiece.
With Navy’s win over Bucknell, the Midshipmen stand alone in first place after the first round of Patriot League play with a 6-1 record – their one loss being against the Black Knights. Army is in a tie for second place with American, both sporting 5-2 marks.
The Black Knights will resume play next Saturday, Feb. 9, at Bucknell. Tipoff in Lewisburg, Pa., is set for 7 p.m. Army won Game 1 of the season series with the Bison, 68-60, on Jan. 12.
GAME NOTES: With a 16-6 record, Army has its most wins since 2008-09 (19-12) … Army is 5-2 through the first cycle of Patriot League games for the first time since 2007-08 and fourth time since 2001-02 … Army improved to 7-17 all-time in games at Stabler Arena, and 24-28 all-time against Lehigh.