Posted: November 26, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh snapped its two game-losing streak on Monday evening with a 67-58 victory over NJIT at Stabler Arena. The Mountain Hawks used a seven-point advantage at the foul line to even their record on the year at 3-3, while the Highlanders remain winless at 0-6. Sophomore Marquis Hall led the Brown and White on offense with 12 points and a career-high eight assists, while freshman Rob Keefer and junior Matt Szalachowski both added nine tallies. Nesho Milosevic scored a game-high 20 points for NJIT.
“It certainly wasn’t pretty the whole time, but we found a way to win,” first year head coach Brett Reed said afterwards. “As has been the case in most of our games in the early going, we showed balance on offense and an ability to make key stops when we need them.” Reed added, “It’s nice to be back at home and to get a win on our floor.”
Lehigh shot 42 percent from the floor, including 55 percent from three-point range. The Brown and White sank 17-of-23 free throws, good for 74 percent, while the Highlanders hit only 10-of-20 free throws, marking the fifth time this season Lehigh has shot a higher percentage from the stripe than its opponent. The Mountain Hawks grabbed 35 boards in the game, led by senior Bryan White’s seven, while junior John Gourlay pulled down five.
Lehigh was again very careful with the ball, turning it over only nine times, while the Mountain Hawks “D” forced the Highlanders into 19 turnovers. NJIT received 16 points from Kraig Peters, while Paulius Skema ripped down a team-best six boards.
Lehigh jumped out to 9-2 lead at the 17:25 mark when Hall sank a three, but NJIT quickly came back and tied the game at 11 with 14:50 left in the opening half. The Highlanders went up by four when Peters drilled a three, but Lehigh then came back and tied the score at 17 with 10:37 to go. Three free throws by sophomore Zahir Carrington, a jumper from freshman Prentice Small and a three by Keefer, who won his second consecutive Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor on Monday, gave the Brown and White a 25-19 lead with 6:22 to go in the half. NJIT came right back however, and following a Peters three at the 4:27 clip, the visitors were ahead by one.
The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half with Lehigh able to put together one final run before the break to take a 35-32 lead at intermission. Lehigh shot 44 percent in the first 20 minutes, while NJIT sank 50 percent of its shots. Both teams grabbed 15 rebounds, while the Highlanders turned it over nine times and the Mountain Hawks turned it over just four times.
Lehigh and NJIT remained close in the early portion of the second, with Lehigh extending to an eight-point lead at the 12:34 mark when Dave Buchberger scored on a strong drive to the bucket. NJIT cut it to a four-point contest, but the Mountain Hawks ripped off seven straight, which included a ferocious fast break dunk by Carrington and a three from sophomore Matt Shamis to go in front 53-42 with 9:29 left on the clock.
The Highlanders refused to go down without a fight though and clawed their way back to within five on a Milosevic three-pointer at the 7:51 mark. Lehigh maintained its composure though and continued to get good shots from the floor and sink its free throws and following a Szalachowski jumper, found itself ahead 62-50 with five minutes to go. A five-of-six performance at the line in the final 1:44 helped the Mountain Hawks ice the victory, their seventh win in their last eight over non-league foes at home.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday as the Mountain Hawks stay at home to host the Bobcats of Quinnipiac at Stabler Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 and tickets can be purchased at the arena box office prior to tip-off.