Posted: December 8, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Junior Zahir Carrington grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball up and in with one second remaining to lift Lehigh to a dramatic 65-64 come-from-behind victory over Albany on Monday evening at Stabler Arena. The Mountain Hawks trailed 50-35 with 15:47 remaining in the contest, but out-scored the Great Danes 30-14 down the stretch to improve to 6-3 on the season. Junior Marquis Hall netted a game-high 23 points for the Mountain Hawks, while sophomore Michael Ojo came off the bench and drilled four second half three-pointers en route to 12 points in the win. Albany, which falls to 5-4 overall, was led on offense by Will Harris’ 21-point effort.
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“This was a tremendous effort by everyone on our team to pull off this comeback and get the win,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed commented afterwards. “We knew that if we stuck with our game plan and played within ourselves that we could eventually make a run. Certainly the play of Marquis (Hall) was a major factor, along with Michael Ojo coming off the bench and stepping up and making big shots. But we received significant contributions from a number of players and this was a really great win for our program.”
Ojo spoke of his hot shooting in the second half. “I actually missed my first two shots, but Coach kept telling me to shoot the ball and my teammates got the ball to me in open spots, and so I kept letting it fly.” He added, “Everyone on the team played great tonight and I was just happy to get in there and do my part.”
Following a dunk by Harris with 15:47 left on the clock, Lehigh found itself down 50-35. The Mountain Hawks never panicked though, and slowly made their way back into the game with stingy defense and solid ball movement on offense. A jumper and three-pointer by Hall on consecutive possessions brought Lehigh to within ten at the 14:18 mark, while back-to-back three-pointers by Hall and Ojo made the score 54-47 in favor of Albany with 8:39 to go. Ojo hit another trifecta, this one with 6:35 on the clock, and Lehigh was within six, at 56-50.
Hall got into the lane for a lay up to cut it to a four-point game and following an Albany turnover, Rob Keefer sank a jumper to make the score 56-54 in favor of the Great Danes with 5:11 to go. A technical foul on Lehigh led to four consecutive free throws by Albany’s Ambrose, which pushed the visitors lead up to six, but Ojo answered with three-pointers on Lehigh’s next two possessions to tie the score at 60 at the 2:15 mark. After a bucket by Harris gave Albany a one-point lead, Hall sent the Lehigh crowd into a frenzy with a deep three of his own, giving Lehigh its first lead since the 5:38 mark of the opening half.
Ambrose put Albany up one with a jumper with just 41 ticks to go, and Lehigh was unable to score on its next two possessions. Fortunately for the Mountain Hawks, Albany struggled at the free throw line in the closing minutes leading to the dramatic finish. Keefer snagged a rebound off of Harris’ missed free throw with 13 seconds to go, and drove feverishly up the right side of the court. After juking a defender, he got himself down to the baseline where he took a tough, off-balance jumper that was tightly contested. The shot barely missed and Carrington was quick to grab it. The Philadelphia native then missed his first put back attempt, but stuck with it, gathered yet another board and put home the winning points with just a single second remaining.
The Great Danes called a timeout and drew up a play, but with one second remaining, they resorted to a desperation heave by Mike Johnson that was off the mark and sent Lehigh to its sixth win of the season.
Lehigh shot 47-percent for the game, including a 54-percent showing in the second half. The Mountain Hawks grabbed 33 rebounds and turned the ball over just nine times, including only twice in the final 20 minutes. Albany shot 38-percent for the game, and pulled down 41 rebounds, led by Scotty McRae and Mike Johnson with seven apiece, while three Great Danes handed out four helpers apiece.
Albany jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the opening seven minutes of the game and soon after extended to a ten-point advantage on a three-pointer by Tim Ambrose. Anderson answered with a lay up and ensuing free throw for Lehigh to make it a seven-point game, and following a jumper from Small and a three-pointer by Hall, the Mountain Hawks were down just four, 19-15. John Gourlay sank a jumper on Lehigh’s next possession to bring Lehigh within a single bucket and following a pair of free throws by Hall, the game was tied at 19 with 7:18 on the first half clock.
The teams exchanged baskets for the next several minutes, but Albany closed the half on a 10-3 run to take a 34-27 lead into intermission. Both teams shot under 40-percent in the half, as Lehigh connected on 39-percent, and Albany sank 36.7-percent of its field goal attempts. Hall netted eight tallies and grabbed four of the Mountain Hawks 17 rebounds, while Small hit for six first half points. Lehigh turned the ball over just seven times and went to the foul line 13 times, making eight of its attempts.
Albany was led on offense by Ambrose’s nine points, while Allen added six tallies. McRae ripped down six boards and Mike Johnson handed out a game-high four helpers. The Great Danes sank seven-of-eight free throw attempts and turned the ball over just five times.
Lehigh now has nearly two weeks off for final exams before returning to action on Sunday, December 21 when the Mountain Hawks travel to New Jersey to take on the Monmouth Hawks at Boylan Gymnasium. Tip-off in West Long Branch is set for 1:00.