By Jake Tiger
In all of NCAA Division I women’s basketball, there are only two schools with multiple players that rank in the top 50 in points per game.
The first is Drexel with Keishana Washington and Kylie Lavelle, who average 27.0 and 18.6 points respectively. When the Dragons were pitted against Rider women’s basketball on Nov. 10, Washington hung up 34 points on the Broncs, and Lavelle scored 20.
The other pair of teammates is Lehigh’s lethal guard combo of Frannie Hottinger and Mackenzie Kramer, who both average 18.7 points per game.
On Nov. 30, Hottinger and Kramer laced up their sneakers in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and proceeded to drop a combined 60 points on the Broncs, handing them a bitter 81-67 loss on their home court.
“They’re both great players, and they both took it to us,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “We can say we did a decent job of everybody else, but that wasn’t the game plan going in. … We had them on the [scouting report] as their two best players.”
Even with a plan tailored to stop them, the menacing Mountain Hawk duo circling overhead simply could not be denied.
Hottinger scored a career-high 34 points in the game to break her previous best of 27, while simultaneously notching 13 rebounds to secure her fifth double-double in nine games.
“As far as Frannie [Hottinger] goes, she did a really good job,” said Millgan. “When we took away certain looks, I thought she did a good job getting to the foul line. I thought we gave her a couple easy ones on the free throw line, and she moves really well without the ball. … She got a step on us a couple times.”
To complement Hottinger’s career night, Kramer piled on 26 points of her own with superb efficiency. She was flawless from three-point range against Rider, draining all four of her attempts. On shots inside the arc, she made 7-of-11.
After her perfect performance from three, Kramer is now shooting 56.8% from three on the season, good for fourth in the nation.
“For Kramer, we wanted to make her looks tougher,” said Milligan. “She’s got a quick trigger. We wanted to try and limit her touches, and force her to shoot contested twos as opposed to the threes that she likes to take.”
While Hottinger and Kramer dominated, Rider’s own tandem of sharpshooters came equipped as well, going shot-for-shot with Lehigh for a majority of the contest.
At halftime, senior guard Jessika Schiffer and junior forward Makayla Firebaugh had connected on 7-of-12 three-pointers and had combined for 23 points, matching Hottinger and Kramer’s total.
However, the Broncs couldn’t keep pace with Lehigh for much longer, as the Rider defense broke down when it mattered most, and the Mountain Hawks flew to the finish line.
“We have multiple times where we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re good,’ but then we also have times where it’s like, ‘What are we doing right now? We don’t look like we’re a basketball team,’” said Firebaugh.
Lehigh hushed Schiffer and Firebaugh in the second half, limiting them to 1-of-8 from three.
In the final four minutes of the game, Rider scored just four points. During that same span, Hottinger and Kramer accounted for all of Lehigh’s 15 points, sealing the victory by a margin of 14.
“We have to hone in on the defense,” said Schiffer. “We’re not going to score 100 points to beat a team. We have to get stops.”
The Broncs fall to 2-4 on the season and remain winless in Alumni Gym, as they hit the road again, traveling down to Maryland for a battle with 0-7 Navy. The game begins at 11 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.