Freshman Kylie Butler scored a career-high 23 points and led four Vermont Catamounts in double-figures, but the Lehigh Mountain Hawks held off a late rally by UVM to post an 87-78 victory in the first game of the Christmas City Classic hosted by Lehigh on Friday.
Vermont falls to 4-6 on the season, while Lehigh improves to 7-2 overall. The Catamounts will face either Youngstown State or Delaware in the consolation game on Saturday (Dec. 21) at 2 p.m.
Butler shot 8-for-13 from the field and added six assists and four rebounds. Kaylea Britton added 15 points, while Kayla Burchill chipped in 11 (all in the first half) and Sam Simononis netted 10 points.
Kerry Kinek led all scorers with 24 points and five rebounds for the Mountain Hawks.
"Our team played hard and battled for 40 minutes tonight," said Vermont head coach Lori Gear McBride. "Unfortunately, we were unable to get a few key stops when we needed to against a talented Lehihg team. Kylie Butler gave a tremendous effort tonight."
Lehigh built an early eight-point lead in the first five minutes of the game and extended it to 10, 25-15, on basket by Amina Affini with 9:28 left in the first half.
Vermont sliced the lead to three behind a 10-3 spurt, capped by a 3-pointer from Butler, at the 7:46 mark and climbed within two, 30-28, following another 3-pointer by Butler with 6:43 remaining in the half.
Courtesy: Vermont Athletics
The Mountain Hawks answered, out scoring Vermont 14-7 over the next six minutes to take a 44-35 lead into halftime.
Lehigh's lead grew to 19, 58-39, in the first four minutes of the second half behind a 14-4 run to open the frame. The Catamounts fought back, scoring 11 straight points to cut the lead to single digits, 58-50, at the 13:55 mark.
The Mountain Hawks pushed their lead back to double figures, 70-57, and held a 15-point advantage with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
The Catamounts rallied and a 3-pointer from Simononis, who grew up just a few miles from the Lehigh campus, brought Vermont within five with 52 seconds remaining. However, Lehigh was able to seal the win with a 4-for-6 effort from the foul line.
Lehigh shot 53.4 percent from the field in the game, while Vermont made 43.7 percent of its shots from the floor in the contest. The Catamounts won the battle of the boards, out rebounding the Mountain Hawks 40-33. UVM also handed out a season-high 25 assists on 31 field goals.
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