Posted: December 28, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh returned from a 20-day lay-off with a 56-39 victory over Monmouth on Friday evening at Stabler Arena to improve its record to 6-5 on the season; the first time since mid-November the Mountain Hawks are above .500. Sophomore Marquis Hall and freshman Rob Keefer led Lehigh on offense with 12 and 11 points, respectively, while senior captain Bryan White pulled down 13 rebounds, his third straight game of double-digit boards, to up his career rebound total to an even 500. With the loss, Monmouth falls to 2-10.
Lehigh shot 44 percent from the floor on the evening and held the Hawks to a dismal 28 percent from the floor. The Mountain Hawks were dominant on the glass, out rebounding their opponent 43-26, and they also sank 10-of-11 free throws, good for 90.9 percent. Hall led the Brown and White with five assists, while White and Keefer both registered two steals apiece.
Monmouth was led on offense by Yaniv Simpson who hit for 11 points, while Jhamar Youngblood scored nine points and pulled down a team-best six rebounds. The Hawks shot just 23 percent in the first half and 19 percent from three-point range for the game. Monmouth’s 39 points were the least Lehigh has allowed since defeated Haverford 83-39 last season at home.
Lehigh never trailed in the game, jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead in the opening 3:31. The Mountain Hawks upped their lead to seven points, 11-4, when Matt Szalachowski sank a jumper with 13:46 remaining on the clock. A three-pointer by sophomore Dave Buchberger and another trifecta from junior Phil Anderson put Lehigh ahead 21-11 with 7:31 to go in the first half, and a steal and fast break dunk by White put the Brown and White up 23-12 at the 4:37 mark.
A lay up and two free throws from Keefer made the score 27-13 in favor of the home team with 46 ticks left on the first half clock, and Lehigh took a 27-15 lead into halftime. The second half saw much more of the same as Lehigh controlled tempo and the backboards, and used timely shots to pull away for its fifth win of the season at Stabler Arena.
A three-pointer by Hall at the 16:56 mark extended the Mountain Hawk lead to 16 points at 32-16; while a Keefer jumper put Lehigh in front 37-20 at the 12:46 mark. Another three by Buchberger with 9:02 left on the clock put the Brown and White ahead 46-25, its largest lead of the night, and although the Hawks were able to cut the deficit to just 13 with 5:47 left, Lehigh always had an answer. Two free throws by White made the final margin 17 points, and it was fitting that the senior captain pulled down a rebound off a missed three-pointer with 16 seconds to go, as the Florida native hit the 500-board mark for his career.
Lehigh returns to action on Monday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks head west to take on in-state foe Penn State at Bryce Jordan Center. Tip time is set for 1:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehihsports.com. The game will also be televised live on the Big Ten Network.