Lehigh prevails, 62-55, in hard-fought defensive battle vs. Army

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01/08/2022 | 12 o’clock


BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – A highly competitive defensive battle ended in favor of the Lehigh women’s basketball team when the Mountain Hawks (10-3, 2-0 PL) outpaced Army West Point in the second half to win the 62- 55 victory on Wednesday evening in the Stabler Arena on Salute to Service presented by Weis Markets. The win marks Lehigh’s fifth win in a row and improves to 8-1 at home, the best start of the program in his home country since 2010/11. The win also marks the 10th of the season for the Mountain Hawks and is the first NCAA Division I women’s team from Pennsylvania to achieve 10 wins.

After an extraordinary performance defeating Colgate on Sunday, Senior Emma Grothaus shone again with 15 points with nine rebounds and three blocks to beat the Black Knights (6-5, 1-1 PL). Sophomore Mackenzie Kramer achieved Grothaus with 15 points with a trio of 3 pointers and four boards.

“We knew the Army was going to be tough tonight,” said head coach Sue Trojan. “I thought our children were their strength. That was one of our goals. We knew we had to play four quarters and we also knew that the defense would win the game. They made it difficult for us on the offensive.” End and we made it difficult for them and it was a game well played on both sides. “

Both teams struggled overall to shoot the ball, as Lehigh only shot 32.8 percent (21-for-64) off the field, while keeping the Army at just 35.4 percent (23-for-65) and 20 percent (4-for-20) stopped) from a distance. As they usually do, the free-throw shooting proved to be the deciding factor when Lehigh shot 11-14 from the foul line.

The shooting difficulty was evident in the first quarter alone, when Lehigh only led 7-4 after Kramer’s step-back jumper at the 3:09 mark of the first frame. Maddie Albrecht’s second three of the evening made it a six point game, making the game 10-4 with 2:09 remaining. Two free throws for Albrecht gave Lehigh an eight point lead, but Army reduced it to seven at the end of the verse as the Mountain Hawks stayed 13-6 in the lead after the first 10 minutes.

Lehigh led the second quarter by up to seven points after a driving layup from Kramer, but Army caught up further, bringing the deficit back within one point to media time at 6:13. A deliberate foul against senior Clair Steele triggered a 7-0 run for the Black Knights after a technical foul with two shots and the ball, when Army took a 22-17 lead with 4:49 to go. Kramer responded with a 3-pointer to reduce the gap to 3:21. Two consecutive Army 3-pointers from Alisa Fallon and Lauren Lithgow gave the Black Knights an eight-point lead, but the Mountain Hawks were within by the end of half after a Kramer step-back 3 pointer at the end of half four points come back buzzer.

It was a strong second period for Army, who beat Lehigh 27-16 on the frame and turned off the lights, walked 66.7 percent (10-for-15) and converted to three of their four 3-point jumpers.

“We felt we got good shots in the first half but they didn’t fall for us,” said Troyan. “I think it was just being able to stay confident about what we were doing. I thought we did a better job in the second half of getting the ball to Emma (Grothaus) and her in Bringing some situations where she could hit one. I thought our guards did a good job entering and exiting too, that was a focus in the second half. “

Grothaus started the goal for Lehigh, who came out of the locker room in the third quarter, with a nice layup to reduce the 9:33 lead to just two points. A small 4-0 run for the Black Knights brought the Army back to six points, but Junior Anna Harvey responded with a driving layup of 7:05 to make a 37:33 ball game. Lithgow brought Army back at 5:18 before the game at seven, but two first year Lehigh 3-pointers courtesy of Kramer and Meghan O’Brien left the Mountain Hawks 3:39 at three to allow for media break walk.

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Get the HUGE synchronization over the army in the Stabler Arena! #GoLehigh | #SoarWithUs pic.twitter.com/4gF2HerLs2

– Lehigh Women’s Basketball (@LehighWBB) Jan 6, 2022 Right out of the short break, Harvey took a quick break opportunity and pulled up from the top of the key to score a 3-pointer to finish the game at 42. Re-Tie A 3-pointer to sophomore Jamie Behar’s buzzer allowed the Mountain Hawks to regain the lead, 48-46 going into the fourth quarter.

With the game over for the last 30 minutes, neither team was ready to give in an inch early in the fourth quarter layup from the fast break to give Lehigh the lead at 50-49. Junior Frannie Hottinger was brought to life at 7:21, a driving layup after an army switch to expand the Mountain Hawk lead to three. Kate Murray and Hope Brown managed to keep the Black Knights within a point in the middle of the fourth quarter, but the Grothaus and Hottinger combo was too much. The next four minutes passed with no basket for either team as the Black Knights were forced to throw Lehigh to the free throw line and increase the lead to seven to end the fight.

Despite winning in the end, Lehigh was out-rebounded 44-42. However, the Mountain Hawks finished with the lead in points from Turnovers (14-8) and Bench Points (19-15). The second chance points were split, 4-4.

In addition to Grothaus and Kramer’s 15-point achievements, Albrecht led the second unit with eight points and three rebounds with three blocks. Steele led the lead with four assists in their first game since late November.

“It was really great to have Clair back tonight,” said Troyan. “She and Frannie (Hottinger) are both working their way back into a groove. They’ve both missed a lot of time, but Frannie gave us some big punches in the fourth quarter that kicked off this game.” It was good to see the two gain some confidence and get back on the ground.

“It will still be in the works though, we’re not playing our best basketball yet. But to get a solid win over a really good army team – I’m really proud of the kids.”

Along with Boston University, the Mountain Hawks top the table 2-0 to begin the game in the Patriot League. Lehigh’s five-game winning streak is the longest since winning six in a row from December 29 to January 15, 2020.

The Mountain Hawks are heading to Worcester this weekend to face Holy Cross at the Hart Center on Saturday lunchtime. The game will be streamed live on ESPN + (subscription required).

Lehigh Women’s Basketball kept the Army on shooting below 40 percent. The fans in attendance received a free starter when they bought two main courses from The Brick in Bethlehem.

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Gallery: (1-5-2022) WBB vs. Army, 01/05/22

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