Like last year, the Lehigh women’s basketball team’s season ended with the first game of the Patriot League Tournament.
Different from last year, however, was this season’s team.
Lehigh secured the fourth overall seed in this year’s tournament, which meant hosting a quarterfinal matchup against fifth-seeded Army West Point on March 5. A long, successful season for the Mountain Hawks came to a crushing end after their second-half surge fell short in a 62-60 overtime quarterfinal loss.
“It hurts a lot to be upset by a lower seed,” sophomore forward Gena Grundhoffer said. “I am happy with the way our season went, but obviously I wish we could have made a farther run in the playoffs.”
After finishing with a 10-20 losing overall record and a 5-13 losing conference record in 2017, this year’s team made improvements across the board. Lehigh improved its overall record to 15-15 and its league record to 9-9.
The team placed first in the league in 3-point shooting percentage during league games with 35.5, fourth in field goal percentage with 39.2 and fifth in scoring with 59.9 average points scored per league game.
“We were a really close-knit group, and we were committed to not repeating what happened last year, and it internally motivated all of us,” sophomore guard Hannah Hedstrom said.
Next year’s team will feel the loss of the three graduating seniors — guards Quinci Mann and Bernadette Devaney and forward Mae Williams.
Mann was this year’s leading scorer for the Mountain Hawks with 417 points, averaging 13.9 per game and placing eighth in the league in scoring. She earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors for the second time in her career. Mann will leave the program as the sixth leading scorer in school history and in third for career 3-pointers scored.
Grundhoffer said each senior led the team in a different way and leaves behind their own legacy.
“Mae was always the one that set the example of what to always be doing,” she said. “Bernadette was one of our best shooters and was always working hard, and Quinci was one of the best scorers to ever come through the program.”
The seniors’ leadership and impact were not only felt on the court.
Grundhoffer said when she felt like she had hit a wall earlier in the season, talking to and getting advice from Williams helped her overcome it.
“Whenever I was going through struggles during the season, they would be the first ones to come and help me,” Grundhoffer said.
Even with the loss of the trio of seniors, Lehigh looks to be in good hands for years to come.
The three sophomore starters — Grundhoffer, Hedstrom and guard Camryn Buhr — will return to the team next year to finish out the second half of their Lehigh basketball careers.
Grundhoffer finished third on the team in scoring with 337 points and ended the year on a scoring streak that landed her Patriot League Player of the Week honors after scoring 20 or more points in four straight games.
Hedstrom was named Academic All-Patriot League and finished fifth in assists in the league, leading the team with 99 total.
“I would consider myself a pass-first point guard, and assists are my favorite stat to get, so that’s been my goal: to set people up and get good shots,” Hedstrom said.
Buhr was first on the team in field goal percentage with 43.3 and in rebounds with 203, and she finished second in scoring with 376 points. She placed 13th in the league in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game. She earned Third Team All-Patriot League honors for the first time in her career.
Buhr said while she focuses on getting rebounds, overall, she’s there for whatever the team needs her for.
With the seniors’ exit, the returning starters’ leadership roles are already being molded.
“Hannah is always putting up the best defense in practice, Camryn is always composed and I’m the one who brings energy to the table,” Grundhoffer said.
While all three players have found success on the court, their biggest strength might be their relationship with each other and the rest of the returning Mountain Hawks.
“We get along really well,” Hedstrom said. “I think we’re a good mix of personalities, and we’ve connected to become best friends here. We do all of our workouts together and bond over the ups and downs of the season.”
Despite the younger team, Grundhoffer said she’s confident in the Mountain Hawks’ combined collegiate experiences.
After a season that allowed each player to mature with every game and improve after last year’s disappointments, the team is prepared to keep progressing next season.