Hottinger scores 21, Lehigh women top Boston to win Patriot
BOSTON (AP) — Frannie Hottinger scored 21 points, Megan Walker had 7 of her 10 in the fourth quarter and Lehigh earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2010 with a 64-54 win over Boston University on Sunday in the Patriot League championship game.
The Mountain Hawks head to the NCAAs for the third time, all in the 26 year reign of coach Sue Troyan and they go with just a 10-5 record.
They played just four games in the last month after starting the season on Jan. 2 and winning their first four games. In 10 games played in January, four were losses to Bucknell. The first six games of February were stopped by COVID-19 protocol and, after playing Lafayette twice, the last two games were canceled.
“I’m proud of the kids … they’ve endured a lot through the season,” Troyan said. “I thought they fought, they competed and really earned the opportunity to be in this championship game … and I’m just really proud of how they competed today.”
Emma Grothaus added 12 points and eight rebounds for Lehigh, which was seeded fourth.
Sydney Johnson scored 16 points for the second-seeded Terriers (12-3), who were looking for their second NCAA berth. Coach Marissa Mosley played for Boston when they won the America East Conference Tournament in 2003. Emily Esposito added 11 points and Maren Durant had 14 rebounds.
Walker hit back-to-back layups and Claire Steele made four free throws in the final minute for a game-clinching 10-0 run.
Both teams played with masks, as the university has mandated that the Terriers wear masks in games and practices and, for games in Boston, the visiting team must wear masks. Most of the Lehigh players had their masks under their chins. No fans or family members were allowed to attend.
The two teams didn’t play during the regular season because of the schedule adjustments made for pandemic circumstances of the season. They were scheduled to meet in the 2020 tournament semifinals when the game was postponed during BU’s shootaround.
Riding the momentum of defeating top-seeded and unbeaten Bucknell 63-54 in a semifinal game on Thursday, Lehigh opened a 23-13 lead after one quarter, closing on an 8-0 run. A 3-point shooting team, averaging 10 makes a game, the Mountain Hawks had a 14-0 advantage on points in the paint.
Lehigh led by 12 points early in the second quarter but the Terriers slowly got back into the game, pulling within 31-29 when Esposito banked in a long 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
The first four points of the second half gave the Terriers a 15-1 run and 33-31 lead, their first since 8-6. But Boston only had the lead for 17 seconds. Lehigh was 4 of 8 on 3-pointers while the Terriers were 0 for 7 and just 5 of 19 overall, allowing the Mountain Hawks to take a 47-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
Lehigh worked the lead back up to 11 after a Walker 3 with 7:04 to play but Boston scored the next eighth points to pull within 54-51 with more than four minutes to play and got the ball with a chance to pull closer before Lehigh pulled away.
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