Posted: December 5, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio – Lehigh had its hands full with the Atlantic-10 preseason favorite Dayton Flyers on Saturday afternoon as the Mountain Hawks fell 89-71 at UD Arena. Four Mountain Hawks hit for double figures on the day, led by freshman C.J. McCollum with 16 points while senior Dave Buchberger and junior Rob Keefer added 11 apiece. Dayton was led in scoring by junior Chris Wright who hit for 16 points as the Flyers improve to 5-2 with the win. Lehigh falls to 3-5 following the setback.
“We knew coming in this would be a tough matchup for us and it proved to be just that,” Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed said afterwards. “But I give our kids credit, they never backed down from one of the toughest teams we’ll see all season and really gave it their all until the end.” He continued, “There were a few lapses where we gave Dayton baskets in transition and then rushed a few shots on our end, and when you’re playing a team as good as Dayton is, you can’t afford to give away easy baskets.”
The fourth Mountain Hawk in double figures on Saturday was freshman Gabe Knutson who hit four-of-seven shots for ten points while overall Lehigh sank 23-of-27 foul shots (85.2%). The Mountain Hawks shot 42% from the floor but hit on only 4-of-17 three-point attempts (23.5%) and turned the ball over 16 turnovers. Knutson and sophomore Justin Maneri grabbed six rebounds apiece for the Brown and White while senior captain Marquis Hall handed out a team-high six assists.
Dayton shot a sizzling 53% from the floor and sank eight-of-19 three-pointers as Chris Johnson and Devin Searcy joined Wright in double digits with 13 points apiece. Wright also pulled down a game-high ten rebounds while London Warren led the home team with five helpers.
The teams were close in the early going as Dayton led 11-6 following a Chris Johnson lay-up with 15:05 on the first half clock, while a Kurt Huelsman bucket with 13:14 left before halftime made it a 14-6 game in favor of the home team. Lehigh pulled to within six on a Holden Greiner basket at the 10:16 mark but Dayton scored five quick points to go in front by 11 with 7:30 on the clock.
Lehigh got the deficit under ten points when Knutson hit two free throws with 4:47 remaining, while a McCollum foul shot and Knutson lay-up made the score 28-22 with 3:18 left before halftime. Dayton scored 13 of the final 17 first half points though to take a 41-26 lead into the locker rooms.
Knutson hit all three of his field goals in the first half and both foul shot attempts en route to a team-best eight points while McCollum added six and Maneri pulled down a team-leading five boards. As a team the Mountain Hawks 39% from the floor but just 3-of-12 from beyond the three-point line and the Flyers forced the Brown and White into 12 turnovers. Hall and Buchberger led Lehigh with two assists each while as a team the Mountain Hawks sank five-of-six free throw attempts.
Wright led the Flyers with 12 first half points on 6-of-9 shooting as well as a game-high seven rebounds, while Chris Johnson added seven points. Dayton shot 50% from the field and sank 8-of-10 free throws, while committing nine turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. The home team outscored Lehigh 20-8 in the paint and had seven second chance points to zero for the Mountain Hawks.
As the second half began Lehigh was able to keep things close and following a Hall jumper with 15:18 on the clock the Mountain Hawks were down 52-39. Dayton never let up though with its full court pressure and before the Mountain Hawks could blink they were down 63-43 with 12:10 left in the game. The lead swelled to as many as 27, the last time coming with 4:59 to go, but Lehigh battled hard until the end and got within 20 on two free throws by the Ohio native, McCollum. A Keefer jumper just before the final buzzer provided the final margin of 18 points.
Lehigh - Dayton Post-Game Extra
Lehigh now has nearly two weeks off for final exams before returning to action on Thursday, December 17 when the Mountain Hawks play host to the Dartmouth Big Green at Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:05 and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com or at the arena box office prior to tip-off.
Photography (c) Eric Schelkun, 2009