Posted: December 22, 2006
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Lehigh held a ten-point lead with 8:03 remaining, but the Mountain Hawks could not hold on, as they fell to Big East member Rutgers by a score of 67-61 on Friday evening at the RAC. Senior Jose Olivero led the Brown and White with 22 points, while junior Bryan White added 17, 15 of which came in the second half. With the loss, Lehigh falls to 5-9 overall, while the Scarlet Knights improve to 6-5.
Lehigh shot 45 percent from the field on the evening, including 58 percent in the second half. The Mountain Hawks forced 14 Rutgers turnovers and harassed the home team into a 38 percent shooting night. Freshman Marquis Hall added 11 points on the night for Lehigh, and the Portland native also handed out a team-best six assists. Olivero led the Brown and White on the backboards with seven rebounds, while freshman Zahir Carrington ripped down six.
Rutgers put four players in double figures, led by Marquis Webb’s 14, while Jaron Griffin added 13, J.R. Inman scored 11 and Adrian Hill netted ten. The Scarlet Knights out rebounded the Mountain Hawks 38-32, but sank just 17 of 24 free throws for the game. Hill added ten boards to give him a double-double, while Griffin and Anthony Farmer each dished out four helpers.
The Mountain Hawks led for the majority of the first half before Rutgers was able to go on a late run, which sent the Scarlet Knights into halftime up by a score of 31-27. A three-pointer by sophomore Jaron Griffin with less than one tick remaining on the clock pushed the lead up to four. Lehigh’s largest lead came with 5:52 to go in the half, when the Brown and White went up by eight, while Rutgers enjoyed its largest lead at halftime. Olivero led the Mountain Hawks with 12 points, while Hall added seven. Freshman Zahir Carrington grabbed a team-high six boards and Hall handed out four assists.
Lehigh shot just 33 percent in the opening 20 minutes, while forcing the Scarlet Knights into 36 percent shooting and seven turnovers. Rutgers was led on offense by Webb’s ten tallies which came on four-of-eight shooting. The Mountain Hawks were out rebounded 23-18, and gave up 11 second chance points to their Big East foe.
In the second half, Lehigh hit its stride on the offensive end, starting with a lay up by Olivero at the 13:15 mark. White then scored seven straight points to put the visitors in front by eight with 10:06 remaining. Lehigh would go in front by ten on a free throw by sophomore Phil Anderson, but from there Rutgers started to chip away at the Mountain Hawks lead. Griffin splashed a three from the wing with 6:27 to go and the Lehigh lead was down to a single point. The home team then took the lead back with 4:58 remaining when Hill emphatically dunked the ball.
Lehigh would hang around for the remainder of the game, but the Scarlet Knights were able to hit timely shots and made enough defensive stops to pull away for the win.
Lehigh will now have a week off for a holiday break, before returning to action on Friday, December 29 versus the Hawks of Monmouth in New Jersey. Tip-off is set for 7:00 from Boylan Gym and all of the action can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM, as well as lehighsports.com.