Posted: February 18, 2007
EASTON, Pa. – Lehigh freshman Marquis Hall scored a game-high 22 points, but it wasn’t enough as rival Lafayette rallied for a grueling 75-71 win in double-overtime inside Kirby Sports Center on Sunday afternoon. The win snaps Lehigh’s two-game winning streak, dropping the Mountain Hawks to 12-16 overall and 7-5 in the Patriot League. Lafayette improves to 9-19 overall and 3-9 in the league.
“First off I’d like to congratulate Lafayette on its win,” head coach Billy Taylor said afterwards. “Give them credit, they deserve this win, they earned it. Obviously we’re very disappointed with the outcome, especially after we came out so strong from the start. We’re still learning to win on other people’s home floors. Now we have to turn our attention towards our next game, which is at home. We’ve done a very good job of defending out home turf all season long, and we’ll have to continue that trend.”
The Lehigh defense was strong early, as Lafayette missed its first 13 field goal attempts from the floor. The Leopards made their first dent in the scoreboard with a pair of Andrew Brown free throws at the 11:06 mark of the first half, when already trailing 11-0. Brown’s field goal at the 8:43 mark was Lafayette’s first make from the floor – after the home team missed on its first 15 field goal attempts.
Lafayette would finish the afternoon shooting just 33% for the game.
Despite Lafayette’s slow start, Lehigh was unable to put the Leopards away, and went into halftime ahead by just one point, 24-23. Hall led Lehigh with 11 points, which came on five-of-nine shooting, while senior Kyle Neptune added seven, as the senior did not miss a shot in the opening 20 minutes. As expected, the Mountain Hawks had the advantage on the backboards, out-rebounding their archrival 22-16. Junior Bryan White and freshman Zahir Carrington led the way, with six and five rebounds, respectively.
Lafayette was led by Abdullah’s seven points, while Harley sank two three-pointers en route to six first-half tallies. As a team, Lafayette shot only 23 percent from the field, but four three-point shots kept the Leopards in it, as Lehigh connected on only 33 percent of its shots, including a two-of-eight showing from three-point range.
Up by two early in the second half, Lehigh built a four-point lead at the 17:30 mark after White grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a bucket with a thunderous put-back dunk to give the Mountain Hawks a 31-27 lead.
Later in the half, the Leopards rallied to take the lead, thanks in large part to a five-minute Lehigh scoring drought, in which the Mountain Hawks went 0-for-6 from the floor. A Carrington lay-up with 2:48 left tied the score at 48.
With the scored tied at 50, Lafayette’s Everest Schmitt buried a pair of free throws to put the Leopards ahead by two. However, Lehigh captain Jose Olivero buried a fade-away jumper in the paint with 13 seconds to play, ultimately sending the game to overtime at 52 apiece.
In the extra session, Lehigh led by three after a White lay-up at 1:38, but the Leopards rallied to tie the score on a Matt Betley runner in the paint, sending the contest to a second OT, with the score knotted at 62 apiece.
Three Lehigh players (Olivero, Anderson, Neptune) fouled out in the second overtime, and Lafayette pulled away. The Leopards led by as many as six – 69-63 – in the second OT, before holding on for the four-point win.
Hall led Lehigh with 22 points and three assists. White pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, while adding seven points for the Mountain Hawks. Overall, the Mountain Hawks were limited to 35% shooting from the floor, and just 26% from beyond the arc.
Three Lafayette players scored in double figures, led by 14 apiece from Abdullah and Brown.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks welcome two-time defending league champion Bucknell to Stabler Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:05 pm, and tickets are still available. They can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com, or at the Stabler Arena box office prior to the game.