Braun’s buzzer beater gives Gophers 101-99 win over Lehigh

True freshman Mara Braun hit the first buzzer beater in six years for the Minnesota women’s basketball team (2-0, 0-0 B1G) on Sunday night at Williams Arena to down the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-2, 0-0 Patriot) 101-99. Braun’s 34 points go down as the second most points ever scored by a freshman at Minnesota.

“Yeah, it felt good,” Braun said of her shot after the win. “At first I thought it was actually going to hit the inside of the rim. Then all of a sudden I turned and everyone was just rushing at me and the place was just loud. It was a really cool feeling.”

“That play is actually a play we used two weeks ago to win a scrimmage in practice,” head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “It’s a play that I have ran 50 times that Cheryl drew up. [Mara] read that bottom player in their zone, they stayed in zone, and she just found a gap and made a heck of a read.”

Braun finished the game 12-of-26 from the field, including 5-of-13 from three-point range. Fellow freshman Amaya Battle was the next closest with 17 off the bench on 8-of-18 and added nine rebounds and a pair of assists. Alanna ‘Rose’ Micheaux notched her second double double in a row with 13 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Gophers grab 26 offensive rebounds with six herself. Katie Borowicz and Mallory Heyer both scored 12 in the win with Borowicz snagging five steals and adding four assists.

The game started with the first four points going to the Maroon and Gold but Lehigh held firm and took an early 17-10 lead at the first media timeout shooting 7-of-10 from the floor. Minnesota stayed aggressive early, getting to the bonus 5:56 into the game with Micheaux capping a 7-2 run late in the quarter with an and-one.

Entering the second down 25-20, Minnesota continued to cut into the lead, and trimmed it to 42-39 after 20 minutes of action. Minnesota’s defense stepped up early in the second, holding the Mountain Hawks to 1-of-6 to begin the frame. Braun’s night began to become special in the second quarter, scoring eight points including a pair of triples. Braun, paired with a Maggie Czinano duece, gave Minnesota a 32-31 lead before Lehigh regained the lead at the half.

Braun continued her offensive onslaught in the third, scoring 14 points in the frame on 6-of-11. Minnesota’s 12-2 run in the third regained the lead for the host Gophers at 56-54, but Lehigh returned with a 10-5 run to lead 71-65 and lead 75-69 leading into the final 10 minutes.

The fourth quarter was a wild back-and-forth affair between the two programs with five lead changes in the final 1:15 of the game. The final 85 seconds began with Braun hitting two free throws to take a 95-94 lead to cap off a 9-2 run for the Gophers. Mackenzie Kramer, who finished with a team-high 26 for the Mountain Hawks, hit a big-time step back jumper with 1:04 left to take the lead back.

After three failed chances to take the lead back, Minnesota was forced to foul with 26 seconds left with Lehigh hitting 1-of-2 to lead by two. The following possession saw Czinano snag an offensive board and earn a trip to the foul line with 17 seconds left. She split the trip, and the Gophers trailed by one. Instead of fouling on the catch, Borowicz allowed Lehigh to dribble to half court before snatching her fifth steal of the night and returned it the other way for a 1-point lead with eight seconds remaining.

Lehigh called timeout, and advanced the ball where Kramer hit another shot, this time a turnaround fade away from straight on that banked off the glass and in with 1.7 seconds left. Minnesota matched Lehigh’s timeout and advancement, and put the ball in Battle’s hands before she dished it to the near-side wing where Braun hit her game-winning shot at the buzzer.

For the game, Minnesota made 37-of-96 (.385) field goals, and the Gophers were credited with 17 assists on those 37 field goals. After Kramer’s 26, the Mountain Hawks got 25 from Frannie Hottinger and 14 from Meghan O’Brien and Kaylee Van Eps.