Posted: November 15, 2008
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Juniors Zahir Carrington (21) and Marquis Hall (20) combined for 41 points as Lehigh downed Saint Peter’s 79-62 on Saturday afternoon at the Yanitelli Center in the Mountain Hawks 2008-09 season opener. The win was Lehigh’s first in a road opener since the 1998-99 season and its second straight over the Peacocks. Joining Lehigh’s two juniors in double figures were senior Phil Anderson who connected for 12 points, and sophomore Prentice Small, who hit for 11 tallies.
"It was nice to get that first game under our belts," Lehigh head coach Brett Reed commented afterwards. "We had a few opening game jitters at the beginning of the game and did not value the basketball as much as we should have. Saint Peter's opened with a run, but fortunately we were able to take control during the middle of the first half when we made a nice run of our own. We held Saint Peter's to just one point in over five minutes of action and that allowed us to seize control."
Lehigh shot a blistering 57 percent from the field on Saturday, including 50-percent from three-point range, led by Anderson’s three-of-four showing from beyond the arc. The Mountain Hawks handed out 12 assists, led by Hall’s four, while Small added three helpers. Sophomore Michael Ojo came off the bench to lead the Brown and White with seven rebounds, as he shared top honors with Anderson who also ripped down seven caroms.
Saint Peter’s was led in scoring by Wesley Jenkins, who hit 10-of-21 field goals for 25 points, and he was joined in double digits by Ryan Bacon with 11 points. The Peacocks turned the ball over 16 times, but did force Lehigh into 18 turnovers of its own. Lehigh’s defense forced the home team into a 39-percent shooting performance, and just 18 percent from downtown.
Saint Peter’s maintained a six-point lead through the early going as Jenkins scored eight points in the first 3:27, but Lehigh quickly came back and pulled to within one on a three from Anderson at the 14:38 mark. The Peacocks extended to a seven-point advantage with 12:56 to go in the half when Ismaila Traore scored, but the Mountain Hawks scored 11 of the game’s next 12 points to surge in front 22-19 at the 7:39 mark. Another three from Anderson pushed Lehigh’s lead to four, and that was followed by seven more Mountain Hawk points, capped by a three-point play the old fashioned way by Anderson, making the score 32-21 with 4:14 remaining before halftime. A three from Hall pushed Lehigh’s lead to 13, but the Peacocks cut the deficit to eight at halftime.
The Mountain Hawks shot 54 percent in the opening half, and hit six-of-seven free throws to aid their eight point lead. Saint Peter’s shot just 39 percent in the first 20 minutes, including 17 percent from downtown.
Lehigh extended to a double digit lead on two free throws from Carrington right out of the gate in the second, and was able to maintain that lead for nearly the entire half. A Carrington layup with 15:13 left on the clock made the score 48-34, while a three-pointer by Anderson at the 10:28 mark also pushed the lead to 14. Freshman Justin Maneri scored his first two collegiate points off a pair of free throws with 9:16 remaining, and following a jumper by Hall on the next possession, Lehigh found itself up by 18 points, 62-44. Sophomore Rob Keefer connected on a jumper one minute later, which once again pushed the lead to 18, and from there the Mountain Hawks cruised to victory.
"It was nice that Marquis and Zahir could score the basketball for us," Reed explained, "and shooting such a high percentage as a team also helped. Phil Anderson performed well and provided solid leadership and intensity, while Prenctice Small was a tremendous spark off the bench, playing solid defense and creating opportunities for others." Reed concluded, "With the quick turnaround (for Monday's game), we must learn from our mistakes and correct any problems we had tonight, and be able to retain a tremendous amount of information on our upcoming opponent. Our players will have to move quickly for our next challenge which is the home opener on Monday at Stabler Arena."
Lehigh is back in action on Monday evening when the Mountain Hawks open up their home schedule versus the Hornets of Delaware State. Game time is set for 7:00 from Stabler Arena. Plenty of tickets remain and can be purchased in one of three ways: by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com. For fans unable to make it to the game, the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as Lehighsports.com with veteran Matt Kerr and Lehigh Hall of Famer Greg Falkenbach providing the commentary.