EUGENE, Ore. – Lehigh hung tough with its opening night Pac 10 opponent, but in the end, the Mountain Hawks could not overcome a 13-of-28 three-point shooting effort by Oregon, as the host Ducks topped Lehigh by a 77 to 65 score in front of over 8,000 fans at McArthur Court in the opening round of the Basketball Travelers Classic. Oregon freshman Tajuan Porter had a performance to remember, scoring 27 points and dishing out five assists in the win.
Lehigh had three players hit for double figures in the loss. Senior captain Jose Olivero poured in 17 to lead Lehigh, while Jason Mgebroff added 16 and Bryan White chipped in with 11 for the Mountain Hawks.
The Ducks came out firing on all cylinders, and Oregon built an 8-0 lead just 1:45 into the contest. However, Lehigh maintained its composure, and the Mountain Hawks slowly whittled away at the lead.
Trailing by a 21-13 score, Lehigh busted out on an 11-3 run to take its first lead of the game – 24-23 – thanks to a Bryan White tip-in at the 4:16 mark of the opening stanza.
The Ducks used success from the free throw line late in the opening half to take a 32-26 lead into the locker room. In all, the home team was 8-of-8 from the stripe over the first 20 minutes. Junior Bryce Taylor paced Oregon with nine first half points.
Lehigh was led out of the gates by the play of Jose Olivero, who scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half. White added seven points and three rebounds for the Brown and White. Lehigh shot 36% from the floor in the opening half – including a two-for-eight effort beyond the three-point arc, and a disappointing 4-of-9 from the free throw line.
In the second half, the Ducks remained hot from long range, and virtually could not miss from the free throw line, as they opened up an 18 point lead en route to the 12 point win.
Porter led all scorers with 27 points, including 10-of-11 at the stripe and five-of-10 beyond the arc. Chamberlain Oguchi added 16 points, and Maarty Leunen posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. As a team, the Ducks sank 22-of-24 tries from the free throw line.
Lehigh was 3-of-13 from long range, and was out-rebounded by a slim 32 to 28 margin on the night.
“I thought our effort was good, and we played with a good pace, a good tempo, particularly in the first half,” said Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor. “But we had some fouls late in the half and they began to get into a rhythm. If we can play good defense like we did tonight all season, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Despite surrendering 77 points, Lehigh’s defense limited the Ducks to just 41% shooting overall and 8-of-23 inside the three-point line.
The Mountain Hawks are right back in action on Saturday, as Lehigh takes on Portland State in the Basketball Travelers Classic from Eugene. Tip-time is set for 4:00 pm EST, and the game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320, as well as on Lehighsports.com with streaming provided by Yahoo! Sports.