The power struggle lasted the entire 40 minutes of regulation in the quarterfinal game. And then went into overtime.
As soon as one leader emerged, the other team pulled ahead — a cycle that continued until the last minute of overtime, when Army established its dominance over Lehigh once and for all.
The Lehigh women’s basketball team’s season closed with a 62-60 overtime quarterfinal loss to Army West Point at Stabler Arena on Monday night.
Army (17-13, 10-9 PL) held Lehigh (15-15, 9-10 PL) 41.9 percent from the field and 21.4 from long distance. The Mountain Hawks shot 21-for-27 from the charity stripe.
Lehigh hit double digits in turnovers with 19, which coach Sue Troyan said gave the Mountain Hawks’ opponent the opportunity to score multiple transition buckets.
Senior guard Quinci Mann said Lehigh also gave Army second and third chance opportunities off of the 39 rebounds the Black Knights had.
Sophomore forward Gena Grundhoffer led Lehigh in scoring with 22 points. Two other Mountain Hawks scored in double digits, including Mann with 14 and sophomore guard Camryn Buhr with 13.
A pair of Mann free throws and a Grundhoffer layup started off the game to give Lehigh a 4-0 advantage. Army answered and eventually surpassed Lehigh to claim an 11-8 lead.
A pair of last second free throws from sophomore forward Cameryn Benz pulled the Mountain Hawks within 11-10 of the Black Knights to conclude the first period of the contest.
Lehigh opened the second period with a 7-point run from the help of a Buhr layup, a 3-pointer from senior guard Bernadette Devaney and a pair of Grundhoffer free throws to take a 17-11 lead. The Mountain Hawks held off Army and headed into the half with a 21-19 advantage.
Almost as soon as the Black Knights stole the lead to start off the third period, the Mountain Hawks took it back. The teams went back and forth until a 7-point run from Army solidified the team’s 37-30 advantage going into the last period.
The Mountain Hawks made their advance on the Black Knights in the fourth period, outscoring Army by seven points. Lehigh closed the gap to 45-44 before a pair of Grundhoffer free throws gave the team the lead.
Both teams were neck-and-neck during the entirety of the last period. It seemed as though Lehigh was on a game-clinching run with a Grundhoffer layup and a Mann free throw, but Army responded with a jumper to tie up the contest 51-51 and take it into overtime.
The Black Knights took the first lead of overtime with a layup to give them a 2-point advantage, but Lehigh answered with a 5-point run from a trio of Grundhoffer free throws and a Mann layup, moving into the lead. The teams took turns juggling the lead before Army pulled away with a minute left on the clock to secure the win, beating Lehigh 62-60.
“We didn’t handle their pressure very well,” Troyan said. “The times where we were able to handle the pressure, get into our offense and execute, we were generally able to get some good looks at the basket. It was a matter of initially getting through their initial frontline pressure. When we were able to do that and execute in the half court, we were pretty good.”
Troyan said the Black Knights, however, did a good job of disrupting the consistency of Lehigh’s offensive unit.
Mann said she believes the Mountain Hawks were able to match Army’s toughness and intensity, but in the end, the Black Knights made tougher shots and better plays.
Both games the Mountain Hawks played against Army earlier this season were one-possession games, the former coming out in Lehigh’s favor. Troyan said her players knew coming into the contest it would be a one-possession game that would come down to which team could execute down the stretch.
Moving forward, Troyan said Lehigh has some improvements to make if it wants to come out on top in close games.
“For underclassmen, hopefully it keeps them hungry in terms of things they have to do to get better and to improve,” Troyan said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games and were unable to close out those games this year. From a maturity standpoint, that’s one of the areas we have to get better in.”
Despite her career as a Lehigh women’s basketball player coming to an end with the quarterfinal loss, Mann said she enjoyed her time as a Mountain Hawk and will always remember the fond memories she made.
“While my Lehigh career might be over,” Mann said, “I’m just celebrating the four years that I had.”
Losing sucks. Life is tough in the Patriot League. Hope the disappointment leads to more improvement next year.