Posted: November 20, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Sophomore Rob Keefer unleashed a shot as time expired that hit the rim, bounced in the air and fell through the net. Unfortunately for Lehigh it left the Mountain Hawks one point short as the Brown and White suffered its first loss of the season on Thursday evening 69-68 versus the Rider Broncs at Stabler Arena. Lehigh held a 12-point halftime lead but was unable to hold on as the Mountain Hawks see their five-game win streak versus non-league teams at home come to an end. Junior Zahir Carrington led Lehigh (2-1) with 15 points, while Rider (1-1) saw Lamar Johnson pump in a game-high 20 points.
“The game was really one of two halves,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed explained afterwards. “In the first half we shot the ball well, we created opportunities for ourselves and we weren’t making things easy for Rider. During the second half our shots weren’t falling and we allowed Rider some easy opportunities that ultimately allowed them back in the game.” He added, “We certainly had our chances down the stretch in this game, and this will serve as a learning opportunity for our team.”
Lehigh shot just 26 percent in the second half, which led to a 36 percent shooting performance overall. Despite the loss, Lehigh had several bright spots on the evening as the Mountain Hawks turned the ball over just ten times and out rebounded the Broncs 45 to 34, led by Dave Buchberger and John Adams with seven apiece. Keefer finished with 11 points for Lehigh and senior Phil Anderson scored ten points, his third straight game in double digits.
Johnson hit six-of-12 three-point attempts for Rider and was joined in double digits by Nova Gadson (17 points), Mike Ringgold (11 points), and Ryan Thompson (10 points). Thompson also pulled down ten boards and dished out a team best five helpers.
Rider nailed a pair of three-pointers right out of the gate in the second half to pull within nine at the 19 minute mark. Lehigh was able to push its lead back to double digits and held that margin for the next three minutes, but the Broncs answered with a 7-2 lead that made it a five-point game with 14:06 on the clock.
Baskets by Carrington and Marquis Hall gave Lehigh a 55-45 advantage with 11:44 remaining, but from there Rider scored eight straight in a span of 1:31 and made it a two-point game. The Broncs continued to chip away and following Johnson’s three with just under seven minutes remaining, Rider had its first lead since 8:27 remained in the first half.
A lay up by Brandon Penn pushed the visitor’s lead to three but Prentice Small answered with a three from the left wing that tied things up at 63 with 3:15 to go. Lehigh took its final lead of the game when Hall made one-of-two foul shots at the 1:58 mark, and maintained that cushion for the next 1:47 before Thompson drove the lane, got fouled, scored on a lay up and converted the three-point play for a 68-66 lead with 11 ticks on the clock. Lehigh came down and missed a three-pointer, but had one final shot to tie it when Rider made just one-of-two free throws at the other end.
Keefer got the ball in the right corner, and after having his first attempt blocked, got the ball back and hit an off-balance jumper that was just inside the three-point arc and left the Mountain Hawks one-point short.
The teams were even with one another in the early going, and were tied at seven following a three from Rider’s Lamar Johnson at the 16:09 mark of the first half. The lead went back-and-forth for the next nine minutes before Lehigh caught fire, beginning with a jumper by Anderson that put the Mountain Hawks ahead 18-17 with 8:15 left. Matt Szalachowski then sank a three-pointer and his classmate Anderson followed with a three of his own to open a seven-point Lehigh advantage at the 6:37 mark.
After Rider closed to within four, Lehigh freshman John Adams sank a pair at the line, and Keefer drove in for a lay up making the score 30-22 with 2:48 to play. The Broncs got back one point at the charity stripe, but the Brown and White scored seven of the final nine points in the half to take a 37-25 lead heading into the locker room.
Lehigh - Rider post-game show, November 20, 2008
Lehigh sank 50 percent from the field in the first half, and was led by Anderson’s eight points on a perfect three-of-three shooting, while Keefer and Buchberger both hit for seven points. Lehigh ripped down 20 boards led by Adams’ five, while Adams and Szalachowski both handed out a pair of assists. The Mountain Hawks committed only six turnovers and hit five-of-ten three-point attempts.
Gadson hit for eight first half tallies for the Broncs, while Thompson scored five. The Broncs grabbed 14 rebounds as a team, led by Thompson’s five, and dished out six assists, but shot just 60 percent at the free throw line.
Lehigh is back in action on Monday, November 24 when the Mountain Hawks wrap up their three-game homestand and welcome the Red Flash of St. Francis (Pa.). Tip-off from Stabler Arena is set for 7:05 and tickets 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.
Photography 2008 (c), Specialty Photographic