Lehigh junior forward Emily Johnson takes a shot during practice on Monday, Nov. 4, at Stabler Arena. The team started its 2019-2020 season strong with a 3-0 record.(Julia Randolph-Flagg/B&W Staff)

Undefeated women’s basketball looks to maintain hot streak

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For the second straight season, the Lehigh women’s basketball team is off to a promising start. The team is undefeated in the first three games of its 2019-2020 campaign, following victories against Delaware State, Merrimack and George Washington.

Although the season just began, Lehigh already benefits from standout individual performances. Senior Camryn Buhr, who recently eclipsed 1,000 career points, is averaging a team-high 14 points per game this season.

Coach Susan Troyan was full of praise for the team’s most prolific guard.

(Buhr) has been one of our most consistent players throughout her career,” Troyan said.  “Her greatest strength is her ability to impact the game at both ends of the floor with her offensive versatility and her defensive presence. She has always been a leader by example as a player who is willing to put the team first, while setting the example every day with her work ethic, toughness and commitment to excellence in everything she does.

The Mountain Hawks came off of a strong 2018-2019 season, finishing with a 21-10 record and reaching the semi-finals of the Patriot League Tournament, where it lost to American University. 

This year, however, the team is looking to exceed last season’s success and win its first Patriot League Tournament since 2010.

Lehigh is led by a strong senior class, including forwards Cameryn Benz, Gena Grundhoffer and fifth-year senior Meagan Eripret, as well as guards Hannah Hedstrom and Paige Galiani. 

With a strong showing of seniors, Lehigh will look to use its depth of experience to guide the team to important victories this season.

“Having four seniors as starters is a huge strength of our team, especially since my class has a lot of experience on the floor over the past three years,” Buhr said. “We really have a special and talented team this year, and having an older team to lead us is going to be one of the keys to our success this season.”

In its season opener, Lehigh took control from the first tip and finished with a resounding 68-38 victory against Delaware State, with Benz leading the scoring for the Mountain Hawks with a game-high 20 points.

The team faced Merrimack in its next game, which proved to be a much tougher challenge than its last matchup.

Lehigh held the lead for the majority of the game, but Merrimack kept the pressure on with a late third-quarter run. The Warriors’ tenacity paid off after a successful three-pointer in the final 35 seconds forced the game into overtime. Lehigh then regained the lead with Buhr and junior guard Mary Clougherty, and finished with a five point lead over Merrimack.

The Mountain Hawks have had a tough time winning close games in recent years, which makes the win against Merrimack even more important.

“I think that win gave all of us a lot of confidence,” Grundhoffer said. “In the past, that is a game we probably would have lost just because of our uncertainty. Now, after that win, we know we are fully capable of winning close games, which is a huge confidence builder.”

Against George Washington, the team’s defensive resilience helped secure another Lehigh victory. The Mountain Hawks finished the game with 12 steals and 28 forced turnovers, and both Clougherty and sophomore forward Emma Grothaus had a game-high 14 points.

Though the team is undefeated, Troyan said there needs to be more growth if the players want to compete for a Patriot League Championship.

“This early in the season, there are many aspects to improve upon,” Troyan said.  “We have not shot the ball particularly well in our first (few) games, but that should improve as we have a stronger understanding for where our shots will be coming from in the flow of games.”

Lehigh will look to advance its record to 4-0 when the Mountain Hawks face Central Connecticut State at Stabler Arena on Nov. 18.

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