Lehigh women's basketball junior guard Ella Stemmer (5) shoots a layup during the game against Boston University on Feb. 3, 2024, at Stabler Arena. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Terriers 64-62. (Holly Fasching / B&W Staff)

Lehigh women’s basketball junior plays as triple threat


Lehigh women’s basketball junior guard Ella Stemmer is a triple threat. 

The Mountain Hawks’ leading scorer is best known for her long-range shooting, but with an increased role in her third year, Stemmer has improved her defense and stepped into a prime leadership role.

After the departure of last season’s leading scorers, forward Frannie Hottinger and guard Mackenzie Kramer, the Lehigh women’s basketball team needed someone to step up as the go-to shot-maker

Stemmer has been that key contributor, averaging a team-best 13.8 points per game. She’s fifth in the Patriot League in points scored and first in the league in 3-pointers. 

“I think Ella stepped into a much bigger role this year,” junior forward Meghan O’Brien said. “She did contribute a lot last year, but this year we rely on her a lot more for scoring. Since losing our two leading scorers last year, she’s stepped into that role a lot for us.”

This scoring was put on display in Lehigh’s Dec. 7, 106-60 win over La Salle.

Stemmer was the largest contributor in that game, putting up 33 points with six 3-pointers on 12 attempts.

Three days later, Stemmer broke the Lehigh and Patriot League record for 3-pointers in a game with 10 in an away game against Pittsburgh.

Stemmer said that she loves playing at Lehigh because of the offensive scheme, which highlights her strengths.

“The way we play is super fast, I love that,” Stemmer said. “One of our principles in basketball is we share it and shoot it. I love to shoot the ball, so obviously that fits well with what I like to do.” 

But Stemmer does more than just shoot.

Over her past three years, Stemmer said she has focused on developing her defensive skills, leading to high praise from her coaches and teammates about her well-roundedness on the court. 

“When we recruited Ella, we knew she was a sharpshooter,” coach Addie Micir said. “We knew she could shoot at a high percentage from a distance. We expected that of her and she’s done that her whole career here, but what I love is to see the growth on the defensive end.”

Stemmer showcased her defensive improvements in Lehigh’s Feb. 10 matchup against Lafayette, where she hauled in a game-high eight rebounds, including the defensive rebound that iced the 70-68 overtime win.

The tenacity that led to this improvement has been present since Stemmer picked up a basketball.

Stemmer began playing basketball in first grade and was coached by her father throughout middle school. Coming from a family of basketball enthusiasts, Stemmer said her parents consistently advocated for engagement in sports. 

“My parents always taught me the lesson of having a strong work ethic,” Stemmer said. “Playing basketball or any other sport, especially at a college level, is a great way to learn that lesson.”

That dedication to the sport is what made Stemmer a versatile player on the court, a trait that hasn’t gone unnoticed by her coaches and teammates.

“She’s really developed into a complete player,” Micir said. “And that’s a big testament to her work ethic too — it didn’t just happen because the coaches wanted it to happen or told her to. She had to put in the time to do it, and the belief to do it, and she did.”

Stemmer came to play basketball at Lehigh in 2021. Since then, her impact has grown since then and she’s developed strong relationships within the Lehigh community. 

She said her strong bond with her teammates and the team dynamic are what motivate her to keep getting better.

“We’re really close and it’s really fun to be able to see all our different personalities and interests come together,” Stemmer said. “Someone’s always singing or dancing, but then we step on the court and we have fun, but also we work hard and compete. I think it’s a really fun dynamic.”

While Stemmer’s stats and athletic abilities are impressive, Micir said it’s her relationships with her friends and teammates that stand out the most. 

“I really think what makes her exceptional, though, is her ability to connect with people,” Micir said. “For someone who takes a lot of shots, her teammates cheer really hard for her and that’s a pretty remarkable thing, right? But that just speaks to who she is as a person.”

Since the addition of four new first-years to the team this year, Micir said Stemmer has stepped into a leadership role by adapting new players to collegiate play and cultivating the team culture. 

“She’s someone who has always been intentional with her relationships,” Micir said. “She’s someone who makes time for a lot of different people on the team.”

Stemmer’s dedication to the game has become the standard for the team throughout the season.

“When she’s someone who is a big-time scorer, and can do a lot of things on the court, and you watch her work ethic, it just drags others along,” Micir said. “You’ve got no other choice but to want to show up when you’re playing with Ella.” 

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