Posted: December 2, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Freshman Marquis Hall hit a pull-up jumper with 57 seconds remaining to put Lehigh in front for just the second time in the second half and Lehigh hung on to remain perfect at home with a 55-52 victory over Central Connecticut State on Saturday evening at Stabler Arena. Senior Jose Olivero led Lehigh with 14 points, as he hit for double figures for the 16th consecutive game and helped the Mountain Hawks improve to 4-6 overall. Javier Mojica scored a game-high 20 points for the visiting Blue Devils, who fall to 2-5 in the early going this season.
Lehigh shot just 39.5% on the evening, but out rebounded its opponent 36-27. The Mountain Hawks handed out 11 assists and forced ten Blue Devil turnovers. Senior Kyle Neptune hit for 12 points, while junior Bryan White added nine and senior Jason Mgebroff and Hall each scored eight points on the evening. As a team, the Brown and White sank 16 of 23 attempts from the free throw line, while CCSU was four-of-nine at the stripe.
The Blue Devils placed only one player in double figures (Mojica), while Joe Seymore came off the bench to score eight and Tristan Blackwood added nine tallies. The visitors shot 43 percent from the field, and just 40 percent in the second half.
“We weren’t playing very well, we were having our struggles, but we found a way to win this one,” commented head coach Billy Taylor afterwards. Taylor then commented on Olivero’s ability to still hit for double figures despite being the focal point of the CCSU defensive game plan. “He’s remarkable. It doesn’t matter what the opposition does to him, he’s still able to get his points for us and find a way to help us win.” Taylor added, “But the big shot for us came from Marquis (Hall). He made a tough pull-up jumper and it’s nice to see a freshman with that type of confidence in his game and step up and come through for us.”
The game was tight throughout with neither team able to really get into any type of offensive rhythm. After a pair of free throws by Neptune, the score was tied at ten with 12:10 to go in the opening half. CCSU would go up by three on a three-pointer by Sizemore with 10:08 to go in the half, and the visitors extended to a six-point advantage when Mojica connected from downtown. Lehigh would cut the deficit to just two before the half when White sank a jumper and a free throw with 1:10 left.
Olivero sank a three as soon as the second half began, putting Lehigh in front 27-26, which was the Mountain Hawk’s last lead until the final minutes. The Blue Devils went up five on a three from Seymore with 12:36 remaining, and then up seven when Jemino Sobers sank a jumper in the lane, making the score 46-39 with 10:08 remaining. Lehigh would make it a three-point game when White sank a pair at the line and Mgebroff hit a jumper.
The Mountain Hawks continued to trail as the game headed down the stretch, with a jumper by Olivero making it a one-point game at the 2:41 mark. Olivero then sank another jumper, putting Lehigh in front for the first time since his three early in the half, but CCSU came right back and went ahead 52-51 on a jumper by Blackwood with 1:34 to go. After a timeout by Lehigh, Hall sank his jumper, giving Lehigh a 53-52 lead with under a minute to go. The final minute featured a series of timeouts and free throws, but the Mountain Hawks defense and shooting were up to the challenge and came away with the win.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to New Jersey to take on the Tigers of Princeton University at Jadwin Gym. Tip-off is set for 7:35 and all of the action can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM, as well as lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr and Greg Falkenbach ’72.