Posted: January 30, 2008
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Behind a strong defensive effort and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, Lehigh downed Bucknell 56-54 at Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday evening for the Mountain Hawks first win on the road against the Bison since 2003. Sophomore Zahir Carrington scored a game-high 19 points for Lehigh while senior Bryan White registered his second straight double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Mountain Hawks improve to 11-9 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League. Bucknell received a team-high 11 points from Rob Thomas as the Bison fall to 9-11 overall and 4-2 in league action as their 38-game Patriot League home win streak is snapped.
“This is a tremendous win for our program against a great opponent,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed said afterwards. “Give our guys credit for finding a way to win in a very tough gym where Bucknell hadn’t lost in awhile.” He continued, “Everyone on our roster made contributions tonight and we needed all of them.”
Lehigh shot 45 percent for the game, making only 18 field goals for the game, while holding the Bison to 36 percent. Sophomore Marquis Hall scored 13 points for the Brown and White and dished out a team-high three assists, while freshman Prentice Small sank three-of-four free throws in the final ten seconds and finished with seven points and two assists. The Mountain Hawks grabbed 32 rebounds to Bucknell’s 31, and they only turned the ball over 13 times.
John Griffin scored ten points for Bucknell, while Todd O’Brien scored nine and Darren Mastropaolo added eight. The Bison committed only eight turnovers, but shot 19 less free throws than Lehigh, committing eight more fouls along the way.
Behind 11 first half points from Carrington, Lehigh went to halftime ahead 29-24, marking the Mountain Hawks first halftime lead since the Princeton game. The Mountain Hawks shot 52 percent from the field and held the Bison to 30 percent shooting, while both teams pulled down 16 rebounds. Hall scored eight points in the opening half, all coming on lay ups, while White added six points and a team-best four boards. Lehigh held a decided advantage down low, outscoring the home team 20-6 in the paint in the opening 20 minutes.
Bucknell’s scoring was evenly distributed as Griffin hit two three-pointers en route to six points, Todd O’Brien and Patrick Behan scored four apiece and four other Bison scored at least two points. Bucknell had just nine field goals in the first half, but had assists on five of them, led by Griffin’s two. Both teams took good care of the ball combining for just 12 turnovers, while Lehigh struggled from the outside, missing all six of its three-point attempts.
The Mountain Hawks jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead but Bucknell slowly chipped away and eventually took the lead for the first time midway through the half. Lehigh was unfazed though, using a steady diet of Carrington and White down low to put together a late run, which led to the five-point lead heading into the locker room.
In the second half Lehigh extended to a seven-point lead when White scored on a lay up, but Bucknell ripped off six straight to close within one at the 16:18 mark. A Rob Thomas jumper tied the game at 38 with 13:17 to go, but a pair of free throws from Carrington gave the lead back to Lehigh. Hall then sank a jumper to put the Brown and White up four at the 11:23 mark, however the Bison scored the next four to tie the game for the fourth time.
From there Lehigh scored the game’s next five points and following a lay up by Small after a steal, the Mountain Hawks were ahead 47-42 with 4:39 on the clock. Two free throws by Hall made the score 51-45 in favor of the road team and it looked as though Lehigh was headed for an easy finish, but Bucknell had other plans. John Griffin hit one-of-two at the charity stripe and Thomas hit a short jumper to pull the Bison to within two with eight ticks remaining.
Small caught the ensuing in-bounds pass and calmly sank a pair at the line to put the Mountain Hawks up 55-51, but again Bucknell answered as freshman Daryl Shazier sprinted down court and drilled a three from the top of the key to slice Lehigh’s lead to just one with two seconds left. Small again went to the line and this time hit one-of-two to set up one final shot for Justin Castelberry, but his full-length heave was off the mark and Lehigh had defeated Bucknell for the first time at Sojka Pavilion since 2003.
Lehigh returns to action on Saturday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the Holy Cross Crusaders. Tip-off from the Hart Center, where Lehigh has not won since 1998, is set for 12:00. All of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 beginning at 11:30 AM with veteran Matt Kerr and Jeff Tourial.