Defensive effort keys Mountain Hawk victory
Posted: November 25, 2003
Bethlehem, PA – Lehigh got its first victory on the season Tuesday night, defeating the visiting Stony Brook Seawolves by a final of 64-49. The Mountain Hawks trailed for most of the first half, but then stepped it up defensively to pull away in the end.
Much like in their first game, Lehigh (1-1) came out cold on offense, shooting only 36.7% in the first half. Stony Brook didn’t do much better at 37%, but did stroke 5-10 from behind the three-point line in taking a 26-25 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Lehigh turned up the defensive pressure, coming out of the gate on an 8-1 run to take a 34-27 lead. It was a lead they would never relinquish, as the team came up with 12 steals on the night to consistently get easy baskets in transition. Stony Brook (1-2) closed to within 34-31, but then another 11-3 run by Lehigh put the team firmly in control. The Seawolves would never get closer than six points the rest of the way.
Austen Rowland led Lehigh with 19 points on the evening, including 13 in the second half. Rowland also tied for the team-high in assists with four dimes on the night. Earl Nurse was the only other Mountain Hawk in double figures, finishing the game with 10 points to go along with 7 rebounds. The team forced 20 turnovers, leading to a 21-4 advantage in points off of turnovers.
For Stony Brook, Mitchell Beauford had 13 points and Mike Popoko had 12. The Seawolves ended up shooting just 34% for the game, and were also hurt by a 7-14 performance from the charity stripe.
Head coach Billy Taylor credited the team’s defensive effort for the victory. “We knew they had good guard play,” said Taylor. “We tried to mix things up a lot, give them a bunch of different looks in the paint and with pressure. We tried to confuse them, and it helped us get some easy baskets.”
Senior co-captain Ra Tiah got the starting nod for the first time this season, and Coach Taylor said he had a calming influence on the team despite modest statistics. “I think Austen struggled a little last Friday (in Lehigh’s first game), and maybe the freshmen did some too. But Ra did a great job of helping them to relax in this game, and he came up with some big plays in the second half.”
The Mountain Hawks will continue their season Saturday as they make a swing through the state of Connecticut, beginning with a game at Sacred Heart. Monday, Lehigh will travel to Storrs to take on the No. 1-ranked UConn Huskies. The Sacred Heart game is scheduled for a 2:00 tip-off, and will be broadcast live on Oldies 1470 AM.