Lehigh women's basketball advanced to the Patriot League Championship after a win against No. 1 Bucknell. Lehigh will take on Boston University on March. 14. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports Hannahally Photography)

Mary Clougherty’s play continues to push Lehigh forward


Mary Clougherty, a senior guard, and captain on the Lehigh women’s basketball team has continued to grow throughout her career. 

After an illustrious high school career where Clougherty was a four-year starter for Chantilly High School in Virginia, Clougherty enrolled at Lehigh and began playing for head coach Fran Troyan. 

Clougherty’s collegiate career, however, began slowly. As a freshman, Clougherty appeared in all 30 games for the 2017-2018 season, averaging 1.6 points off the bench and playing six minutes per game. 

“You have so much to learn your freshman year,” Clougherty said. “Coming into college basketball there are a lot of changes with the pace of play. Defensively it changed a lot as well, as that’s not something AAU coaches and high school coaches focus on.”

Sophomore year provided a big boost in minutes for Clougherty, whose playing time increased to 14 minutes per contest as she began to show off her skill set, hitting 28 threes throughout the season. 

Clougherty followed her sophomore campaign with a brilliant breakout junior season. After closing the regular season against Colgate with a 23 point game, hitting five threes and leading the team to a crucial win, the team headed back to Hamilton, New York, to play Colgate in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament.

Clougherty got into foul trouble early, but had a big second half, finishing third on the team in scoring and helping the team make the semi finals. Unfortunately, that became the last game of the season when COVID-19 shut down college athletics.  

Coming into her senior season, Clougherty was named a team captain and has embraced the leadership role.

“Mary (Clougherty) is very true to herself and she leads knowing she is going to give her full authenticity with it.” said assistant coach Bernadette Devaney. “She is very relatable and that’s very helpful seeing her manage relationships throughout the summer and preseason, knowing how difficult a lot of those times were.

Clougherty has turned into one of the best players in the Patriot League. The first week of League play, she was named Patriot League Player of the Week after she notched 43 points against Lafayette in the weekend series. She was the first Mountain Hawk to win the award since the 2017-2018 season after 

The fast-starting season didn’t stop there, as the next weekend Lehigh set a school record after Clougherty drained the team’s 16th three-pointer of the game against American University from well beyond the three-point arc. 

Clougherty has now hit over 100 three-pointers in her Lehigh career, being only one of ten women in program history to achieve the accomplishment.  

Even if Clougherty’s three-point shot isn’t falling, her ability to impact the game with leadership and basketball smarts has been crucial for Lehigh this season.

“On the court, she is another coach on the floor, she has an eye for everyone and not just herself,” said senior co-captain Mariah Sexe. “She has a huge basketball IQ. In the summer, pre-COVID-19, we have pickup games. She is always the one who knows the score, for both teams.”

Devaney said Clougherty’s love for the game is unique and has uplifted the entire team in a year where the student-athletes are primarily isolated from the rest of the student body. 

Even Frida, Clougherty’s puppy who went viral on Instagram, has had an impact on the team by bringing the same joy and enthusiasm that Clougherty does to practice.

Lehigh now looks forward to the last week of the regular season and the Patriot League Tournament, where Clougherty hopes to lead the team to a Patriot League Championship and an NCAA tournament berth. 

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