Lehigh falls to American 66-58 at Stabler
Posted: February 7, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Junior Zahir Carrington registered his seventh double-double of the season with game-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough as Lehigh fell to Patriot League leading American 66-58 on Saturday evening at Stabler Arena. The Mountain Hawks were within three points in the final minute but could get no closer as they fall to 13-9 overall and 3-5 in the league following the loss. American placed two players in double figures, led by senior Derrick Mercer with 15 points, while classmate Garrison Carr netted 14 as the Eagles improve to 15-7 overall and 7-1 in the league.
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Down 10 with 10:29 on the clock Lehigh slowly crept its way back into the game, as sophomore Rob Keefer splashed back-to-back jumpers to pull the Mountain Hawks to within six at 47-41. A pair of free throws by Carrington then made it a four-point game with 7:46 on the clock. After AU went up by four, Carrington hit one-of-two foul shots to make the score 48-45, but Carr nailed a three-pointer on the Eagles next possession to put the visitors in front by six with 4:50 to go.
Carrington scored in the paint with 3:35 left which got the Brown and White within two points, but that was as close as Lehigh would get as Bryce Simon sank a three-pointer towards the end of the shot clock on American’s next possession to make it a five-point game and the league leaders never looked back from there.
Keefer joined Carrington in double figures with 12 points, while junior Marquis Hall handed out a team-high four assists. Lehigh sank 15-of-19 free throws, but only 39-percent from the field. The Mountain Hawks turned the ball over 13 times and totaled seven steals, including three by Hall. Lehigh was without the services of Dave Buchberger and John Gourlay who both did not play.
Head coach Brett Reed spoke of their absence afterwards. “Dave Buchberger did a great job for us the last time we played American in guarding Garrison Carr and so tonight we certainly missed his presence. Couple that with John Gourlay being away to tend to a personal matter and John Adams getting injured during the flow of the game and we were a bit undermanned tonight.” He continued, “Even with those key players out for us, we still had our opportunities tonight. We have to make the smart plays at the right time and unfortunately tonight we had our moments where we did not do that. Give American credit, they hit shots when they needed to and made plays at crucial times.”
Nick Hendra pulled down a team-best nine rebounds for AU, while Mercer dished out a game-high seven helpers. The Eagles connected on 44-percent of their shots, including seven three-pointers, and they sank 13-of-17 at the charity stripe.
American scored the game’s first four points, but Carrington got Lehigh on the board with a bucket in the paint at the 17:33 mark. Ojo sank his first shot of the evening, a three-pointer, to pull Lehigh to within one at 6-5 with 15:22 on the clock, but a three-pointer by Mercer and jumper by Gilmore gave the visitors a four-point advantage with 12:10 left before halftime. AU extended to a seven-point lead on a three-pointer by Hendra, but Small came right back down for Lehigh and hit a three of his own to make the score 16-12 at the 9:16 mark.
Stephen Lumpkins got inside for a bucket on American’s next possession that put the Eagles in front by six, and Carrington answered for the Mountain Hawks with yet another basket in the paint. Mercer then hit a three as the shot clock wound down to make it a seven-point game, but Keefer scored the next six Mountain Hawk points to pull LU to within three at 25-22 with 2:59 left before halftime. Keefer sank two more free throws with 1:28 on the clock and following one free throw by Hendra, the Eagles took a 28-24 lead into the locker room.
The Mountain Hawks shot only 35-percent in the first 20 minutes and were led on offense by Keefer’s eight tallies. Carrington added six and also ripped down six of Lehigh’s 14 rebounds, while Hall shared top honors with Carrington with two assists apiece. Lehigh turned the ball over only six times and hit all six of its free throws.
American received a team-high 10 points from Mercer, which came on four-of-eight shooting as the Eagles connected on 46-percent of their field goals. Borden and Hendra both added six points each, while Borden and Carr totaled three rebounds each. The Eagles turned the ball over only five times, but got to the foul line just twice, sinking one of their attempts.
Lehigh is back in action on Wednesday evening as the Mountain Hawks hit the road for the first of two straight games away from home. Lehigh will head to Navy to take on the Midshipmen at Alumni Hall. Tip-off is set for 7:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as Lehighsports.com with veteran Matt Kerr calling the action. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 6:30.