Lehigh women’s basketball suffered a heartbreaking 73-68 loss to Bucknell Sunday afternoon at Stabler Area.
Up by as many as 18 points with 1:40 left in the third quarter, the Mountain Hawks could not find their rhythm in the fourth quarter, which led them to their second straight loss.
Bucknell took a 71-68 lead off of two Tessa Brugler’s free-throws, and Lehigh had one chance left with 1.1 seconds, so they called a timeout, but they didn’t have one, so there was a technical called against them and Bucknell converted their free throws to remain undefeated. The fourth quarter was the key to Bucknell’s win. They outscored Lehigh 27-9 to hold on to their eighth straight victory.
Although they didn’t get a win, there were a lot of positives. The offense was very balanced to start the game for the Mountain Hawks. Seven different players scored in the first quarter, ultimately giving Lehigh an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore forward Frannie Hottinger opened up the second quarter scoring for Lehigh when she dashed to the rim for a reverse layup. Her ability to score at all levels was a key for Lehigh all afternoon.
Clougherty followed Hottinger’s layup with a deep three and then drove to the rim and found Hottinger for a subsequent three-pointer to extend Lehigh’s lead to 11 with 6:56 remaining in the second quarter.
Lehigh executed at a very high level all afternoon, consistently finding space for their shooters and finding their size down low.
Head coach Sue Troyan was proud of the execution throughout the first three quarters.
“All year, the premise has been to share the ball and take care of the ball, and I thought we were pretty efficient in the first three-quarters today,” Troyan noted.
Lehigh’s defense also played a big factor in the first half, switching between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man, confusing the Bison and slowing down their red-hot offense. They limited Bucknell to 33 percent shooting from the field.
Hottinger led the way in the first half with 12 points on 4-4 shooting, giving Lehigh a 37-26 lead at halftime. She was the teams leading scorer with 24 points, followed by Clougherty, who had 15.
Lehigh started the second half going inside with both Mariah Sexe and Hottinger converting their post-up opportunities to open the third quarter.
The Mountain Hawks’ energy and shot-making were too much for Bucknell to handle in the third quarter, with Lehigh shooting 57 percent in the third quarter to open up their lead to 18 points.
Lehigh started the fourth quarter slow and was never ultimately able to find their momentum. Missed free throws and poor shot selection in the fourth quarter led to today’s loss.
Lehigh has now played Bucknell four times throughout this abbreviated season, and Troyan said each game against them will help them in the long run.
“Each game, we have gotten a little bit better, this game we certainly got better, and a big part for us is the confidence piece and knowing we can compete with them,” Troyan said. “I don’t think it’s an X’s and O’s thing offensively or defensively. It’s just believing in ourselves and believing in one another that we are capable of having success. We showed that through the first three quarters. ”
Lehigh looks to bounce back and build on their effort today when they play Lafayette Saturday, Feb. 6. at Stabler Arena for a 12 p.m. rivalry game.