BETHLEHEM, PA. – In a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals game that came down to the wire, it was the Army West Point women’s basketball team that erupted into a celebration after claiming a nail-biting 62-60 overtime victory over Lehigh on Monday night at Stabler Arena.
The Black Knights (17-13, 9-9 Patriot League) will head to the semifinal round of the league tournament for the fifth consecutive season after picking up their win over the Mountain Hawks (15-15, 9-9 Patriot League).
Madison Hovren paced the Cadets with her 18th double-double of the season after scoring a team-best 17 points and reeling in 12 boardsAliyah Murray added nine in the scoring column, while Margaret Anne Hubbell chipped in with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting to pair with seven rebounds.
After four early points by the Mountain Hawks, the Black Knights responded with an 8-2 run. A Murray and-one with 2:45 remaining in the opening quarter put Army on top 11-8. It was a one-point game, 11-10, at the end of the quarter. Lehigh was held to just two made shots from the field on 10 tries, but made up for it at the foul line by going a perfect 6-for-6.
A 9-0 Lehigh run that started during the final minute of the first quarter and lasted until the 5:27 mark of the second, put the Mountain Hawks ahead 17-11. However, Army scored on back-to-back baskets from inside to bring the deficit within two. It remained a two-point game with the Mountain Hawks controlling a slim 21-19 lead heading into the break.
The Cadets generated 12 more looks at the basket than Lehigh did in the first half, but the Mountain Hawks got to the charity stripe on 10 different occasions, compared to Army’s two, sinking all 10 shots.
The two sides traded baskets to start the new half before Hovren buried a pair of foul shots with 5:22 on the clock to even the score up at 26-26. Those two free throws were the start of a 13-4 run that helped the Cadets close out the quarter leading 37-30. During that final five-minute stretch, Army’s defense limited the Mountain Hawks to just two made shots.
The Black Knights’ lead was at eight, 41-33, after a Murray score from inside, but Lehigh used a 9-2 run to climb back into the game. In the final 3:25 of regulation, the lead changed five times. Lehigh was up 51-49 after Quinci Mann went 1-for-2 from the foul line. Army turned to McNeal and she delivered with the game-tying basket. Lehigh got one final look at hoop, but came up short and the game headed to overtime.
The Mountain Hawks led by three, 56-53, through the midway point of the overtime period. However, a Libby Tacka make from deep evened the score up. With less than a minute left to play and Lehigh leading 57-56, McNeal found Destinee Morris behind the arc and she buried a clutch 3-pointer.
Army was ahead 61-58 with seven seconds remaining in the game after Lewis split a pair of free throws. The Mountain Hawks got a wide open look under the basket and Gena Grundhoffer put it up and in with three seconds left to play. In a one-point game, McNeal was immediately fouled following the Lehigh make and she made the first foul shot. She then elected to miss the second and the Mountain Hawks could not do anything once they corralled the rebound, securing the win for Army.
The Black Knights will trek to the nation’s capital on Thursday night for a 7 p.m. Patriot League Tournament Semifinals showdown with top-seeded American.