Following two losses against Fordham and Ball State in the Bahamas Hoopfest Classic, the Lehigh women’s basketball team triumphed over Bloomsburg University, 91-43, and Mount St. Mary’s, 66-65.
Prior to the Bahamas Hoopfest Classic, which took place over Thanksgiving break, the Mountain Hawks were undefeated overall.
The Bloomsburg game was an important opportunity for the team to dip into its bench and showcase its deep roster.
Two non-starters, freshman forward Frannie Hottinger and senior guard Paige Galiani, stood out in particular. Hottinger led the game in points scored (16) and finished with 7 rebounds, while Galiani scored 12 points — all from behind the three-point line.
Hottinger attributed her own success as well as the team’s on a strong will to bounce back from the painfully close losses sustained in the Bahamas.
“We were really motivated to do well and come out swinging this game,” Hottinger said. “We focused on playing good defense and looking to each other for passes to create assists.”
Head coach Sue Troyan was particularly impressed with the way in which Hottinger and Galiani stepped up and the overall performance from the bench, responsible for 57 points in the game.
“Both (Hottinger and Galiani) were able to play extended minutes in our rotation and both showed their capabilities when given this opportunity,” Troyan said in an email.
Sophomore forward Emma Grothaus is currently the third highest overall scorer on the team so far this season, adding eight points to her tally on Tuesday. She said teamwork and preparation contributed to the team’s dominant win.
“We really focused on our shot selection in the day leading up to the game, Grothaus said. “During the game, everyone was looking for each other. We shot really good shots, and there were 19 assists, so I think everyone was playing for each other and having fun.”
She places an emphasis on strong leadership from five seniors and one fifth-year, who have brought the team together and improved their rapport.
The Mountain Hawks managed to make it two wins out of two after returning from the Bahamas when it faced Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, although the Mountaineers did not make things easy.
Although Lehigh trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter, the team led at the end of the final three quarters.
It did, however, take a big offensive push in the game’s final 30 seconds for Lehigh to find a victory.
Senior guard Camryn Buhr led the Mountain Hawks with 20 points, but it was junior guard Mary Clougherty and sophomore guard Megan Walker who stepped up in the game’s final seconds.
Clougherty and Walker both managed to make important three-pointers to cut the team’s seven-point deficit, and it was Walker’s three-point buzzer beater that sealed a Lehigh victory.
Following the women’s two recent victories, players and coaches alike emphasized the strength of the team’s defense. The group felt that the defense has contributed to their game wins and is an integral part of the success they are enjoying.
“Our strengths have been established on the defensive end with a stingy defense that makes it difficult for other teams to score,” Troyan said in an email. “It’s a different way to play the game, but the team has bought into it, and we’ve been able to utilize the depth of our team in a positive manner that impacts both ends of the floor.”
With Patriot League play two games away, and consisting of 18 games total, the team is beginning to find its rhythm for the season ahead.
Hottinger believes that there is still some work to do on the offensive side as the season progresses.
“We want to try and get more of a flow on the offensive end and work to get each other open,” Hottinger said. “Catch and shoot shots to make it easier to score for ourselves.”
Troyan expressed similar feelings, mentioning that offensive consistency would remain a focus for the team, to make the most of the strong shooters in the lineup.
“Some of (the lack of consistency) can be attributed to how hard we play on the defensive end, and some can be attributed to the flow of the game given a lot of changing rotations,” Troyan said in an email. “As we become more comfortable in our style of play, I think we will see more consistency on the offensive end.”
The Mountain Hawks will continue preparing for Patriot League play when the team faces Minnesota away on Dec. 21.