Posted: January 2, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a late defensive stop by Lehigh, Niko Scott grabbed the rebound, put up a shot and drew a questionable foul call on the Mountain Hawks. Scott then calmly sank a pair of free throws to put the visitors in front 55-54 with four-tenths of a second remaining. Lehigh had one final shot, but sophomore Phil Anderson’s shot came up just short as the Mountain Hawks nine-game home winning streak was snapped on Tuesday evening. Senior Kyle Neptune led Lehigh (5-11) with 13 points on the evening, while John Baumann scored 12 for Columbia (8-5).
“This was an intense, hard fought game out here tonight,” head coach Billy Taylor said afterwards. “Both teams were playing with a purpose; it was very similar to a (Patriot) league game, which is good, considering we open up (league play) this weekend.” Taylor continued, “I wish we had rebounded the basketball on that last shot, which would not have put us in the situation we wound up in.”
Led by the hot shooting of Neptune, Lehigh came out strong versus the Lions. The Brooklyn native connected on five of seven shots from the floor as he hit for 11 first half tallies and propelled the Mountain Hawks into a 26-18 halftime lead. Junior Bryan White and sophomore Phil Anderson added four points each for the Mountain Hawks, who shot 44 percent from the field as a team and held Columbia to 35 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes. White and Anderson also led the Brown and White in rebounds with four in the half.
Bauman scored a team-best six points for the Lions, while Ben Nwachukwu pulled down three boards. Lehigh forced Columbia into ten turnovers and handed out seven assists on its 12 first half field goals. The Mountain Hawks dominated down low, scoring ten points in the paint to Columbia’s zero, and sinking nine second chance points, while the Lions also scored zero in that category.
In the second half, Lehigh saw its lead trimmed to just four at the 17:21 mark, but a three from freshman Marquis Hall made the score 34-26 in favor of Lehigh with 16:31 to go in the game. Columbia cut it to a one-point affair at the 11:05 clip when Joseph Bova sank a jumper. Lehigh would score seven straight however, capped off with another three from Hall to make the score 47-39 with 8:27 to go.
Lehigh maintained its lead for the remainder of the game until Scott stepped to the line with two free throws coming. The Mountain Hawks first took a timeout prior to the foul shots, but Scott was still able to hit both, putting the visitors up by one with less than one second on the clock.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday evening when the Mountain Hawks open league play versus the Eagles of American at Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:35 and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by stopping into the Lehigh Athletics ticket office, or by logging onto lehighsports.com.
On Thursday, January 4, fans are invited to meet Lehigh head coach Billy Taylor, as well as select student-athletes at the monthly Lehigh basketball luncheon. The event will take place at Starters Restaurant on Route 378 in Bethlehem and will begin at 12:00 p.m., running until 1:00. Coach Taylor, along with the student-athletes in attendance will field questions from fans and alumni. Cost of the all-you-can-eat buffet is $11. The event will also be streamed on Lehigh’s website at lehighsports.com later that afternoon, for those who cannot make it to Starters.