'Saders falter in second half.


Byline: Chris A. Courogen

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Too many turnovers. Too many defensive lapses. Too few defensive rebounds, and too much of Lehigh's No. 22.

That was the story of the Holy Cross' 71-60 loss yesterday to Patriot League women's basketball regular-season champion Lehigh.

Heading into the game, the Crusaders (13-16, 8-6) were looking for the combination of an upset over the Mountain Hawks (23-6, 12-2) and help from either Lafayette or Navy to jump into the No. 2 seed for next weekend's league tournament. And for the first 28 minutes against Lehigh, that scenario seemed like a distinct possibility.

Then came a six-minute scoreless stretch. Leading, 51-49, after a Christy Cushnie jumper with 12:05 to play, the Crusaders suddenly could not make a shot, missing their next seven attempts. During that span, they committed seven turnovers and left open Lehigh freshman Emily Gratch, that No. 22, for four uncontested layups, helping her team during a decisive 14-0 run.

By the time Holy Cross scored again, on a Whitney Fremau free throw with 6:06 left, that two-point lead had turned into a 12-point deficit, and the fourth-seeded Crusaders were ticketed for a tough matchup against fifth-seeded Army in Saturday's opening round.

"Now we're down. We're like a wounded animal," said HC coach Bill Gibbons, who looked for silver linings in the dark cloud of his team's 21-turnover showing. "Maybe this will reinvigorate us a little bit."

Gibbons is the kind of guy whose cup is always half full. But in this case, he has some recent history to point to as a reason for optimism..

Two years ago, Gibbons' team suffered an eerily similar loss on the same floor in the last week of the season. Like this loss, that one ended a three-game winning streak. And like this one, it put Holy Cross in a position where it faced a potential semifinal rematch with...

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