Junior forward Emma Grothaus shoots a free throw on Jan. 16. Lehigh women's basketball suffered a 73-68 loss to Bucknell on Jan. 31. (Katie McNulty/B&W Staff)

Late spark for Bucknell leads women’s basketball to first loss

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In a battle of the unbeatens, Lehigh women’s basketball suffered a 68-60 loss down the stretch to Bucknell Saturday afternoon at Stabler Arena in the first game of the weekend series.

Before today’s contest, both teams remained undefeated throughout the first four games. With today’s loss, the Mountain Hawks fell to 4-1, while the Bison improved to 5-0.

The first quarter was a back and forth battle. There were 12 lead changes, with Bucknell ultimately taking a one-point advantage to go up 19-18 at the end of the first period.

Last weekend, Lehigh broke the school-record with 16 3-pointers, which was the key to beating American. The Bison knew if they wanted to have a shot at winning this game, they would have to limit the 3’s and that’s exactly what they did. The Mountain Hawks converted eight 3-pointers and shot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

After a Clair Steele layup to put Lehigh up 20-19, the Mountain Hawks remained on top for most of the game. They limited the Bison to just five points to take a 32-24 advantage at the half. Although Bucknell limited Lehigh to 0 3-pointers in the first quarter, Lehigh converted four in the second quarter to help secure their lead, but Bucknell didn’t hold back.

Coming out to start the second half, Bucknell had a lot of momentum. They cut Lehigh’s deficit to two with 4:31 to play in the third quarter off of a Taylor O’Brien jumper, but Lehigh’s defense didn’t nudge. They held on to a 51-47 lead at the end of the third quarter.

O’Brien led both teams with 21 points, while senior guard Mary Clougherty, who scored 12 points, was the Mountain Hawks leading scorer, followed by junior forward Emma Grothaus, who notched 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Grothaus was playing for more than herself tonight—she was playing in honor of her mom, whom she lost just two weekends ago. It was her first game back since a win over Lafayette on Jan. 3.

“It’s been an emotional two weeks for her,” head coach Troyan said. “She literally came back on Tuesday, had to stay away from the team for a couple of days as she did her quarantine testing and had one practice with us on Friday. I’m super proud that she was able to come back. I thought she played really well, played within herself. It was nice to have her there. She showed a lot of poise in what’s been a really challenging couple of weeks for her.”

Coming out to start the fourth quarter, Bucknell pressed Lehigh, slowing down their offense and forcing them to take tough shots that didn’t go their way.

An O’Brien layup sparked a 14-0 run for the Bison with three minutes to play, which was their first lead since the second quarter. Lehigh could not come up with stops, ultimately leading to their first loss of the season.

“We’re five games in, and we’re probably going to see them four or five more times this year,” Troyan said. It’s great that the level of respect they garner for our program. They took the game real seriously. I love the fact that we get to battle back and forth tomorrow and get to see them again. For us, it will be about making adjustments.”

Lehigh will look to bounce back when they go to Bucknell tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.

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