Posted: November 17, 2007
LORETTO, Pa. – Lehigh won its second straight game and its first non-league road game since January 2, 2006 as the Mountain Hawks downed St. Francis (Pa.) 71-66 on Saturday evening at Degol Arena. Sophomore Marquis Hall led the Brown and White on offense for the third straight game as the tri-captain scored 21 points, while freshman Rob Keefer added a career-high 12. With the win the Mountain Hawks improve to 2-1 on the young season, the earliest Lehigh has been over .500 since the 2002-03 campaign, while the Red Flash remain winless at 0-4.
Senior captain Bryan White continued his outstanding play for Lehigh, as the Florida native grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds, which gives him a total of 44 boards in his last four games, and added eight points, four steals, two assists and two blocks. Junior John Gourlay and sophomore Dave Buchberger both scored eight points for the Mountain Hawks, while Hall handed out a team-best four assists.
For the game, Lehigh shot a season-best 53 percent from the field, including 57 percent from beyond the arc, while the Red Flash shot just 43 percent. The Mountain Hawks were dominant on the backboards, pulling down 34 rebounds compared to St. Francis 23. The Red Flash was led on offense by Chris Berry and Cale Nelson who scored 22 and 21 points, respectively.
“I was very pleased with our performance down the stretch tonight and was happy that we pulled out the win,” head coach Brett Reed said on the post-game show. “Marquis (Hall) is a tremendous player, who has the core principles as a person which allows him to excel in crunch time and he came through for us once again when we needed it most.”
Reed then commented on the play of freshman Keefer. “I was actually more pleased with the play of Rob in the second half because he grabbed several key rebounds and got to a few loose balls which gained us possessions. I know he’s capable of making shots, but if he can give that kind of effort and remain committed to our overall principles, he’s going to have a tremendous career.”
Lehigh took its first lead of the game on a jumper by Keefer at the 12:07 mark of the opening half, and extended to a 14-11 advantage when sophomore Matt Shamis hit a jumper of his own on the next possession. Following three straight buckets by Buchberger, White and Hall, the Mountain Hawks found themselves ahead by five with 9:16 to go in the opening half. Following a Nelson three however the game was tied at 25 with 5:52 left, but Lehigh responded with a 9-3 run to close out the half and went to the locker room ahead 34-28.
In the second half Lehigh extended to a seven-point cushion when sophomore Zahir Carrington scored on a lay up with 17:02 to go in the game, but the Mountain Hawks lead was quickly trimmed to a single point when Berry drilled a three-pointer at the 13:39 clip. Bassirou Deng then sank a free throw to tie the score at 43, and following a pair of free throws from Nelson, the home team went in front by a deuce with 11:31 left to play.
White sank a pair of his own at the line to put Lehigh ahead by one, but Nelson responded with yet another trifecta to put St. Francis back up by a bucket. Hall came right back though and sank a three of his own to tie the game at 49 and following back-to-back baskets from Hall and Keefer and then another jumper by Hall, the Mountain Hawks went up four, 54-50. A Berry three brought the Red Flash to within one, and after he scored on a lay up with 4:48 to go, Lehigh trailed 56-55.
That was the last time Lehigh would trail however, as Keefer knocked in a jumper and Buchberger drilled a three, which put the Brown and White in front 60-56. Nelson tied the score at 62 with his fifth three of the game, but that would be the last field goal St. Francis would score until eight seconds remained. Hall broke the tie with his second three of the game at the 1:04 mark, and after Buchberger sank a pair at the line, Lehigh found itself ahead 67-62 with only 35 ticks to go. Hall went to the line with 28 seconds left and had a chance to seal it, but he missed the second shot, however White tipped the ball back to Hall who secured the rebound and the Mountain Hawks earned their second straight victory.
Lehigh returns to action for its second of three straight road games on Tuesday evening when the Mountain Hawks head to New York to take on the Albany Great Danes from SEFCU Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 and all of the action can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com beginning at 6:30 with veteran Matt Kerr providing the commentary.