Posted: January 12, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Behind a barrage of three-pointers, 11 of them in all, American downed Lehigh 71-54 at Saturday evening at Stabler Arena in the 2008 Patriot League opener for both teams. The loss was the Mountain Hawks first in a league opener since the 2001-02 season and snapped their four-game winning streak versus the Eagles. Marquis Hall led Lehigh (7-8, 0-1 PL) with 13 points on the evening, while Rob Keefer added 12. Garrison Carr netted a game-high 24 points for American (9-7, 1-0 PL), including a six-of-eight showing from three-point range.
“I’m disappointed with the way we came out tonight, I’m disappointed with our execution and I’m disappointed that we failed to show the mental and physical toughness we need every night we take the floor,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed said afterwards.
Lehigh shot just 35 percent from the floor, including 31 percent in the opening half as American raced out to a 35-25 lead at the intermission. The Mountain Hawks were once again strong on the glass however, out rebounding their counterparts 36-28 for the game, led by senior captain Bryan White’s 11 boards. White was asked following the game what he can do as the lone senior to help Lehigh bounce back from the loss. “I just have to keep competing, working my behind off,” White said. “If I have to work harder, than that is what I’ll do; anything to help this team get wins.”
American shot a blistering 61 percent from three-point range and 46 percent from the field as three Eagles hit for double figures. Joining Carr in double digits was backcourt mate Derrick Mercer with 16 points and Brian Gilmore with ten. The Eagles handed out 16 assists on 22 field goals, led by Carr’s eight helpers, while as a team American sank 16-of-19 free throws. Hall and freshman Prentice Small led the Brown and White in assists with four apiece, while sophomore Zahir Carrington chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds.
Carr came out hot from the start, hitting two three-pointers in the first 2:57 to put American ahead 8-2. The Mountain Hawks answered and got to within one at 14-13 with 12:05 left in the opening half when Keefer sank a jumper, but Carr hit another three and Bryce Simon hit a jumper to put the Eagles in front 19-13 with 9:25 to go. A jumper by Mercer at the 4:06 mark put the visitors in front by ten and a three from Mercer made the score 33-19 Eagles with 2:42 remaining. Keefer scored the first half’s final field goal on a lay up with 35 ticks to go, cutting the Lehigh deficit to ten at halftime.
American extended to a 13-point bulge when Gilmore hit a three at the 14:48 mark of the second half, and following a lay up from Gilmore with 12:08 remaining, the Eagles were in front 46-30. Lehigh could not seem to get much closer as American stayed hot from the outside and went up by as many as 22 points. Lehigh closed to within 15 points when Hall hit a jumper with 4:31 on the clock, but American ripped off the game’s next seven points and was back up by 22.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to Annapolis to take on the Navy Midshipmen at Alumni Hall. Tip-off is set for 7:00 and all of the action can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com with veteran Matt Kerr calling the action. The pre-game show gets things started beginning at 6:30.