Posted: January 20, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. – It certainly didn’t start the way Lehigh would have wanted, but the end result was as nice as any the Mountain Hawks have had this season as they downed Army 57-52 on Sunday afternoon at Christl Arena. Overcoming an early 15-point deficit, Lehigh slowly chipped away, taking its first lead with 5:13 remaining, and then had to hold off Army in the closing seconds for its first league win of the season. Sophomore Zahir Carrington led the Mountain Hawks (8-9 overall, 1-2 Patriot League) with 16 points, while classmate Marquis Hall added 11, none of which were bigger than a three-pointer he drilled with seven seconds remaining. Jarell Brown scored a game-high 17 points for Army, which falls to 8-9 overall and 1-2 in the league.
Lehigh shot 52 percent for the game, including a 55 percent clip from three-point range, while holding the Black Knights to 42 percent shooting. Army shot just 33 percent in the second half, scoring 21 points in that time, with the Mountain Hawks scoring 35 second half points on 54 percent shooting. Lehigh grabbed 24 rebounds for the game, led by Carrington’s five, while the Black Knights ripped down 28 boards, led by Doug Wiliams’ nine. The Mountain Hawks were forced into 19 turnovers, but only five of them came in the second half.
Despite a sluggish start, Lehigh trailed by just nine points at the half, 31-22. The 22 points tied for the second fewest scored by the Mountain Hawks in a half this season. Army sprinted out to a 17-2 lead in the first 9:09 of the game before the Mountain Hawks showed signs of a comeback, cutting it to a workable deficit after 20 minutes of action.
Carrington scored a team-best eight points for Lehigh while junior Matt Szalachowski sank two three-pointers en route to six first half tallies. Carrington pulled down a team-leading four boards, while freshmen Rob Keefer and Prentice Small handed out two assists each. Lehigh wound up shooting 50 percent for the half, but took seven less field goals than the Black Knights, who also shot 50 percent.
Brown led the home team with seven points in the first 20 minutes, while Corban Bates added six, all coming via the three-point shot. Cleveland Richard led Army with three rebounds, while Richard and Bates had two assists. Army’s defensive pressure forced 14 Lehigh turnovers in the half and the home team scored 23 points off of those Mountain Hawk miscues. The Black Knights turned it over eight times themselves, while both teams were able to limit their foul trouble, with just nine total foul shots taken in the stanza.
A quick three-pointer from Hall cut the Army lead to six, but the Black Knights went back up by ten on a lay up from Brown. Two free throws from Bryan White, a jumper by Rob Keefer and another jumper from Hall made the score 40-36 in favor of the home team, and following a lay up from Carrington with 6:43 to go, the game was tied for the first time all afternoon long at 42. Army scored the next four points, but the Mountain Hawks responded with back-to-back three-pointers, including one by junior Phil Anderson, which gave the Brown and White its first lead of the afternoon at 48-46.
Two straight scores by Army put the Black Knights up 50-48 but on Lehigh’s next possession, White scored the knot the game at 50 apiece. Brown sank a pair at the line, making the score 52-50, but once again Lehigh responded as Carrington scored in the paint, to tie the score for the fourth time.
An Amy turnover gave the ball back to the Mountain Hawks and following a missed shot, White saved the ball from going out of bounds and passed it to Keefer right under the basket who laid it in to put the visitors in front 54-52 with 1:21 to go. Following another Army turnover Lehigh got the ball and rather than foul, the Black Knights elected to play defense, which led to an off-balance three-point attempt from Hall that swished through the net as the shot clock expired, sending the Lehigh bench into a frenzy and lifting the Mountain Hawks to their first league win of the season.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks play host to Colgate at Stabler Arena beginning at 7:00. Lehigh has beaten the Raiders four straight times overall and six straight times at home. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com or at the arena box office prior to tip-off.