Lehigh earns No. 13 seed, draws West Virginia in first round of NCAA Tournament
BETHLEHEM, PA. – The Lehigh women’s basketball team has their opponent for the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament in 2021. The Mountain Hawks with 13 seeds (10-5) play from the Hemisfair region in the first round and compete in the first round against West Virginia (21- 6) with the fourth seed on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. The game will be broadcast live on national television on ESPNU.
The Mountain Hawks hit their ticket to the Big Dance on Sunday after beating Boston University 64-54 in the Patriot League Championship game. They picked up the fourth championship title of the program and the first since 2010. Lehigh knocked off the first two seeds, starting with No. 1 Bucknell on Thursday night, in the tournament in consecutive games to earn the trophy.
“First of all, I’m obviously very excited and just very proud of the team as they competed over the week and, to be honest, the whole week,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We went to Bucknell and took that monkey off our backs and then I thought they played a great offensive and defensive game when they went to Boston and beat them. A lot of excitement, a lot of energy and a lot of pride in this group and what they have achieved this year. “
Lehigh had one of the top offenses in the Patriot League this season, especially from a distance, where the team averaged 9.8 3-point points per game. The Mountain Hawks led the league with an average of 72.2 points per game, two ahead of second-placed Bucknell. That number is good for sixth place in the country. The program ranks 11th in the country in terms of assist-turnover ratio with 1.32 points.
But the Mountain Hawks have really come up on the defensive side of the ball in the last two games in particular, keeping both Bucknell and BU below 60 points.
“We’ve been a really strong offensive team all year round. I think we’ve really grown on the defensive in the last two or three weeks and I think that was probably the key to our tournament success,” said Troyan. “We put the two ends together and really challenged them on this side. And I think the other thing that really helped us was that we played what I think was the toughest pod in the league. We learned a lot from that. ” I’ve said this to a few people, but I think the four losses we lost to Bucknell were really important for us to win this tournament.
“We learned a lot of important lessons from those losses and applied those lessons. We challenged them in the championship game, applied the lessons we learned from tough teams and applied what we learned against Bucknell against Boston. We knew Boston.” is a really good team, we knew they were going to take a run. We got a head start, we knew they were going to run, but when they made a run we stood up to them. I think that was a huge area of growth for our team. “
West Virginia finished the regular season in second place in the Big 12 conference and took second place in this year’s Big 12 championship in Kansas City. The mountaineers have advanced to the Big 12 title game for the first time since 2017 and for the third time since joining the league in 2012-13. The program fell to Baylor in the finals, 76-50.
Redshirt Senior Guard Kysre Gondrezick currently leads the climbers with 19.9 points per game and is one of three student-athletes who averaged double digits this season. Sophomores Kirsten Deans and Esmery Martinez each achieve 13.6 points per game this year. Gondrezick leads the team with 117 assists while Martinez walks up and down the glass with 315 rebounds. At 42, young striker Kari Niblack holds the team lead in blocks.
“I don’t know much about her yet. We’ll learn a lot about her tonight as we scour things. As I said, we played really tough competition when you look at our pod,” said Troyan. “We beat two top 100 teams if you look at the NET rankings. I think we’re about 75-78, Bucknell is about 40. So we played six of our games against top 100 teams. And I think that will prepare us for that. ” We are a tough team with our ability to shoot the ball.
“I think with our growth on the defensive in the last few weeks I’m very excited. I’m very confident in them. I don’t think we’re a team I honestly want to play next, I think our kids are going to be loose and I think they are really excited about this opportunity to prove something. They have a lot of confidence in their abilities and I’ve seen them grow in the last two or three weeks. “
Lehigh’s last appearance in an NCAA tournament was 13th place against Iowa State on March 21, 2010. The Mountain Hawks fell 79-42 in the first round against the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa, 79-42. Lehigh is 3-0 in the NCAA tournament and will aim for his first win on Sunday.
Lehigh is 1-0 against the mountaineers and won an 89-73 win against WVU on December 27, 1999 in Bethlehem.
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Gallery: (15.03.2021) WBB selection show, 15.03.21