Mountain Hawks topple Lafayette on the road, 71-57 to earn series win
EASTON, PA. – After the Lehigh women’s basketball team suffered a 10-point loss on Sunday, they went straight back to work, beating Lafayette at 20:14 in the fourth quarter, gaining 71:57 over the Leopards Kirby Sports Center Monday night. The win brings the Mountain Hawks’ record to 7-5, with a 3-5 Central Division record heading towards the final weekend of the regular season.
Four Lehigh players achieved double-digit results, led by Emma Grothaus with 17 points, while newcomer Mackenzie Kramer scored 16 points and both second Frannie Hottinger and newcomer Jamie Behar added 11 points.
Lehigh’s defense did a tough job against the leopards despite another inhuman effort by Natalie Kucowski. The Mountain Hawks kept Lafayette from beyond the arch to just 11.1 percent (2:18) and forced 16 leopard sales.
“Yesterday was definitely a game to get rid of the rust. Our newbies had two exercises in 21 days and our senior class four in 18 days,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “It probably showed a little. I thought we challenged them to competition tonight. I don’t think we went tough yesterday and I thought we allowed them to do some things on the defensive. We played much better team defense today and did that. ” It’s much better to share the ball on offense.
“We are at our best when we play selflessly and our goal is 20 templates per game. What they did tonight just had so much flow and they looked for each other. Our girls really showed who they are tonight. “
Lafayette opened the first quarter with a 10-5 run, but two consecutive 3-point hits from Kramer changed Lehigh’s fortune and put her in the lead. In a 15-0 run, which was crowned by five consecutive Lehigh 3-pointers, the Mountain Hawks led by 10: 20: 10 and 2:16 in the first round. A 6-2 Lafayette run after that point cuts the gap to six, 22-16 by the end of the first frame.
Back-to-back buckets from Hottinger and Kramer had Lehigh right in front of the goal on 11 and a Behar-Springer in the color with 4:56 left extended the lead to 14, which meant that the Leopards burned a break.
Clair Steele’s 3-hand at 1:38 a second had the Mountain Hawks in the lead at 17, but the Leopards scored four points to close the quarter with 37-24.
Lehigh shot the ball much better overall than on Sunday in the first half alone, shooting 37.5 percent (12:32) from the field and 47.4 percent (9:19) from the 3-point line. Thirteen of the Mountain Hawks’ 37 points in the first half came from sales when the Leopards flipped the ball nine times in the first 20 minutes.
Gallery: (02/22/2021) Lehigh WBB in Lafayette, 02/22/2021
To bridge the gap and halt Lehigh’s momentum, the Leopards were able to cut the deficit to eight points at 5:42 in the third quarter, prompting the Mountain Hawks to call the time. Mary Clougherty drilled two 3-point points in two minutes to bring the lead back to 12 at 2:23, but the Leopards narrowed the gap to six points, 49-43 in 33 seconds.
On a second chance from Kramer, Lehigh led the last verse by eight points.
Lafayette made things interesting early in the fourth quarter, with a 9-3 run that came in 5:33 minutes ahead of Lehigh by two points, but Kramer hit a 3-pointer to put Lehigh’s lead 5:21 ahead to push backwards. Two points were where the Leopards were most likely to overtake the lead, and free throws towards the end of the game proved to be the deciding factor when the Mountain Hawks got away with 14 points and 71-57 wins on the road.
In addition to Grothaus’s 17 points, she added four rebounds, along with four steals on the defensive. Kramer had six rebounds and five assists with 16 points. Mariah Sexe walked the way for the Mountain Hawks on the glass with seven boards, also with two blocks to her name.
“Kenzie is a very relaxed kid,” said Troyan. “She was in four quarantines this fall and none of them because she had COVID but because of the people around her. I give her a lot of appreciation for a child who loves basketball and is so passionate about it. Every day it was her. She would be a lot I’d rather be on the pitch. She’s a gym rat, got a score of 4.0 in the fall, so she’s a really smart student too.
“You really haven’t seen all that she can do for us on the pitch because once she has the opportunity to practice and get into a rhythm every day, she’ll be very special here.”
The Mountain Hawks shot 38.3 percent (23 for 60) from the field, 39.4 percent (13 for 33) from outside the arc and were 92.3 percent (12 for 13) from the free-throw line.
Lafayette was again led by Natalie Kucowski, who started her 51st double-doubles career with 26 points with 17 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. Drew Freeland added 11 points with six assists.
The leopards shot 39.1 percent (25 for 64) from the field, 11.1 percent (2 for 18) from beyond, and only 50 percent (5 for 10) from the charity strip.
Lehigh scored Lafayette with 19: 9 points in sales, 25: 6 points in bank points and led the second quarter with 17 points. A head start for Leopards early in the first quarter denied Lehigh wire-to-wire victory.
The schedule for the coming weekend has yet to be set as the Patriot League quarter-finals are scheduled for March 7th.
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