Posted: December 21, 2004
Cincinnati, OH – Lehigh played one of its best games of the season on Tuesday evening versus 2004 “Elite Eight” participant Xavier, but in the end came up just short versus the Musketeers, 69-63 at the Cintas Center in front of 9,268 in attendance.
Senior captain Nick Monserez scored a career-high 20 points on the evening as the former Moeller High School
star returned to his hometown and put on quite a show.
With the loss, Lehigh falls to 4-6 on the season, while Xavier improves to 3-5 in 2004-05.
Lehigh was once again plagued by poor shooting as the Mountain Hawks connected on only 31 percent of their shots in the first half and went to the locker room trailing Xavier 36-21. Although Lehigh struggled as a team, Monserez was sizzling on the offensive end in his homecoming, connecting on all four of his shots from the field, including three shots from beyond the arc en route to 12 points in the opening stanza.
No player other than Monserez scored more than three points in the first half for Lehigh. Senior captain Earl Nurse did grab a team high six rebounds, and also dished out three assists in the half however. The Musketeers were extremely balanced on their end of the floor, as four players scored as least five points, led by Josh Duncan’s ten tallies on two of three shooting. Xavier connected on 50 percent of its shots in the first half, including 63 percent from beyond the arc and out rebounded Lehigh 18-10.
In the second half, Lehigh found it’s stroke as a team, connecting on 52 percent (15-29) of its shots, including 6 of 12 from behind the arc to make the Musketeers sweat. Lehigh fell behind by as many as 18 on several occasions in the second stanza, but behind the strength of several deep three-pointers by junior Joe Knight, the Mountain Hawks pulled to within four points in the closing minutes and made it quite a ballgame.
Knight finished with 14 points for the Brown and White and also added five assists and three steals, while Nurse pulled down nine boards and swatted away a career-high tying five shots on defense. The Musketeers put four players in double figures led by Duncan’s 14 tallies, while Brian Thornton pulled down a career-high six rebounds.
Despite the loss, head coach Billy Taylor was upbeat following the contest. “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys for the effort out there tonight.” Taylor continued, “We tried to execute better in the second half and we were able to do that, and obviously hitting some shots helped us too.” Taylor finished by saying, “Our assistant coaches also did a great job of making adjustments during the game and we are going to try and use this game as a step in the right direction.”
Lehigh now has the week off for the holidays and will not return to action until Wednesday, December 29 in Maryland versus Towson University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 with all of the action broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 AM and 1320 AM and also on Lehigh’s website at lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr providing the commentary.
Interior photo (c) 2004, Greg Rust