Lehigh downs Leopards 60-57; Hall nets 1,000th
Posted: January 24, 2009
EASTON, Pa. – Junior Marquis Hall scored a team-high 18 points, including the 1,000th of his career, and Lehigh downed archrival Lafayette 60-57 on Saturday afternoon at Kirby Sports Center. Joining Hall in double figures were classmate Zahir Carrington with 13 and sophomore Rob Keefer with ten as the Mountain Hawks downed the Leopards for the fifth time in the last seven meetings. With the win the Brown and White improves to 12-7 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League, while Lafayette falls to 6-13 overall and 2-3 in the league.
“I was pleased with the effort we gave today,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed said afterwards. “We didn’t necessarily play smart for the entire game, and down the stretch we were fortunate rather than good, but nonetheless we were able to make some free throws and play very tough defense to secure the victory. I guess we like to make it entertaining.”
Lehigh finished up shooting 32-percent from the floor, which included a 27-percent showing in the second half. Senior Phil Anderson led the Mountain Hawks with nine rebounds, while junior Dave Buchberger pulled down eight and Carrington totaled seven. Lehigh was solid all afternoon long at the free throw line, hitting 17-of-21, with Carrington sinking nine of his ten attempts. Hall hit four three-pointers and becomes the 27th 1,000 point scorer in Lehigh annals.
Lafayette also shot 32-percent from the floor and totaled 42 rebounds as a team, led by Ryan Willen with ten. Willen also scored 11 points, while Jeff Kari sank three three-pointers en route to a game-high 19 points and Jared Mintz added 16. Lehigh did a great job on senior captain Andrew Brown, who finished with only four points after shooting 1-of-8. The Leopards handed out 12 assists on 18 field goals and hit 13-of-19 from the free throw line.
The Mountain Hawks started the game off strong as Keefer sank a jumper 29 seconds in, and Lehigh rattled off the next five to take a 7-0 lead at the 17:28 mark. Hall hit his first two shots of the afternoon, including a three-pointer with 14:55 left in the first half which gave him 1,001 points for his career. “To be honest I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Hall said afterwards. “I was just focused on coming out and being aggressive. Luckily my first few shots fell, and once it was over (scoring his 1,000th point), I went from there.”
He continued, “This was a big win for us to get; not only because it was Lafayette but because we needed to get ourselves straightened out and gain some confidence.”
“It was really nice that Marquis could come forward in that situation,” Reed commented. “To be honest his confidence seemed low to some people but he kept going. One shot is not going to make or break him. Today it was nice that although Zahir Carrington couldn’t get it going from the floor, he did a great job of getting to the free throw line and converting his opportunities.”
Lehigh went up by 15 following four Michael Ojo free throws with 9:33 on the clock, and a Keefer shot from the stripe made the score 24-8 with 8:04 left before the half. From there Lafayette’s offense came to life as the Leopards outscored the Mountain Hawks 19-8 for the remainder of the half, including a long three-pointer by Kari as the first half clock expired, which sent the teams into halftime with the Brown and White clinging to a 32-28 lead.
Reed spoke about the last second shot and coming out for the second half. “Fortunately we were able to regroup from that. Obviously we need to play percentages and taking a shot with three seconds left wasn’t the best execution on our part.”
He continued, “Having watched a number of Lehigh – Lafayette games throughout the years, momentum plays such a large role in these games. We’ve had a tendency to lose momentum and then have a tough time of gaining it back. Fortunately today we were able to regain our momentum for the second half and ultimately come away with the win.”
A Mintz lay up right out of the gate brought the Leopards to within two in the second half, but Anderson hit a bucket one minute later to put Lehigh back in front by four. With 14:22 on the clock Lehigh unleashed an 8-0 lead that pushed its lead to ten, 44-34 with just over 13 minutes to play. The Leopards once again battled back though as Kari drilled a three and Mintz scored inside the paint and Willen followed with a bucket of his own to make the score 46-43 in favor of the Mountain Hawks. The home team pulled to within one on two free throws by Kari with 8:46 to go, but baskets by Keefer and Hall pushed Lehigh’s cushion back up to four.
Lehigh went up by six when Carrington scored in the paint at the 4:46 mark, but Lafayette scored eight of the game’s next ten points and tied the score at 55 on a Mintz lay up. It marked the first time the teams were tied since the score was 0-0. Carrington was fouled on the other end and hit one-of-two shots and following a missed three-pointer by Lafayette’s Brown and a wild scramble for the ball, Carrington went to the charity stripe yet again, this time with 1:03 on the clock. The captain calmly sank both attempts and Lehigh was in front 58-55. Buchberger was whistled for a foul on Lafayette’s next possession, sending Kari to the line where he sank both of his attempts and made the score 58-57 with 32 ticks left.
Following a timeout Lehigh inbounded the ball and quickly broke the Leopard press, but the Mountain Hawks threw the ball away with 25 seconds to go, giving Lafayette one chance to take the lead. Mintz was fouled and stepped to the line for two shots with a chance for the home team to take its first lead of the day, but both attempts were off the mark. Carrington was fouled one more time and once again sank both attempts giving Lehigh a 60-57 lead with four seconds remaining. Michael Gruner had one final chance to tie the game but his three-point attempt was off the mark.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks open up a three-game home stand versus the Bucknell Bison at Stabler Arena. Tip-off 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.