Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — The Lehigh Mountain Hawks came into the Gallagher Center on Friday night and spoiled the Niagara Purple Eagles' home opener, controling the vast majority of play in a 93-73 non-league women's basketball win.
NU (0-1) team had a night to forget on the defensive side of the ball, allowing Lehigh (1-0) to shoot 47.6 percent from the field, including 42.1 percent (8 for 19) on 3-pointers.
NU opened strong, particularly on the offensive glass. Donisha Watson grabbed three offensive rebounds in the game's first five minutes, but the deep ball proved the difference as Lehigh opened up a 15-9 lead. The Mountain Hawks started 3 for 3 on 3-pointers.
"We did a really poor job on dribble penetration and it killed us," said NU coach Kendra Faustin.
The Purps went on a 9-2 run after the first timeout. NU made a point to get into the teeth of the Lehigh defense, and Victoria Rampado and Taylor McKay each hit two free throws. Meghan McGuinness hit the Eagles' first 3 of the night, and Kelly Van Leeuwen went end-to-end after a steal for a layup.
The Mountain Hawks caught fire from there and took a 32-25 lead with 7:26 left in the half. Lehigh's Kerry Kinek — a 6-foot-3 sophomore and last season's Horizon League Rookie of the Year — had seven points in the stretch, including a three-point play. She scored her 11th point of the first half with just over 9 minutes remaining and finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Faustin raved about Kinek's ability in a chat Thursday, and she lived up to the hype.
"We tried different match ups (against Kinek)," Faustin said. "We went zone early because of her and they went off from 3-point line, then we tried hard-hedging and jamming screens so we wouldn't have to leave her. She can score so many different ways, if you give her one matchup she can go off the bounce on the perimeter, and if you give her another she can post up and score inside."