Posted: February 23, 2008
EASTON, Pa. – Lehigh senior Bryan White scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds but it wasn’t enough as rival Lafayette rolled to a 78-60 win over the Mountain Hawks at Kirby Sports Center on Saturday afternoon. Four players scored in double figures for the Leopards (15-12, 6-6 Patriot League) in the win, including senior Bilal Abdullah, who scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 13 boards.
Lehigh (12-14, 5-7 P.L.) has now dropped two straight and five of its last six. Lehigh head coach Brett Reed talked about the game afterwards. “First off, I have to give Lafayette credit. They came out aggressive and played that way all afternoon long. With five seniors, they (Lafayette) used that experience to their advantage.” He continued, “I’m disappointed with the way we executed and that we lacked the necessary focus to get the job done today.”
Lehigh shot just 36 percent for the game, while the Leopards, aided by a 60 percent showing in the second half, finished the afternoon shooting 50 percent on field goals (26-52). Sophomore Marquis Hall added nine points for Lehigh as did freshman Rob Keefer. The Mountain Hawks were forced into 17 turnovers, but did force 16 Lafayette turnovers as well.
The Leopards out rebounded the Mountain Hawks 39 to 32 led by Adbullah’s 13, seven of which were on the offensive end, while classmate Ted Detmer pulled down seven boards of his own. Of Lafayette’s 26 field goals, 19 were assisted on, led by Michael Gruner’s five helpers.
Things started off on the right foot for the Mountain Hawks. After White put back a missed shot and Hall drained a quick three, Lehigh built an early 5-1 advantage. The Leopards answered with five straight, before the Mountain Hawks used a pair of White jumpers in a 7-0 run to go back on top, 12-6.
Lehigh led by as many as eight in the first half, before the Leopards closed the half on a 25-7 run to build a ten-point advantage, 33-23, at the break. The Mountain Hawks went more than ten minutes without scoring a single point as Lafayette began to find its touch from the field and took its first lead on a three-point basket by Abdullah at the 9:17 mark.
White led the Brown and White with eight first half points, while no other Mountain Hawk scored more than three points. White and Zahir Carrington pulled down four rebounds apiece, while Matt Szalachowski and Prentice Small handed out two assists each. Lehigh shot 32 percent from the field and Lafayette connected on 41 percent of its field goal attempts, while the Leopards held a 23 to 18 advantage on the backboards.
Andrew Brown sank two three-pointers en route to ten first half tallies, while Abdullah finished with nine points of his own and pulled down a game-best seven boards. The two teams combined for 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes while White and Carrington were both whistled for two fouls and were forced to miss quite a bit of time.
“That was a very, very crucial part of this game today,” Reed said regarding the foul trouble of White and Carrington. “Those two are a big part of what we do both offensively and defensively and with the two of them on the bench for significant stretches, it forced us to play some different people and to have to rely more on our perimeter game.”
The Leopards thwarted Lehigh’s attempt at a second half comeback, building a lead that reached 25 with 9:10 play. White was the only Mountain Hawk to reach double figures, with his 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Brown and Matt Betley added 13 points for the Leopards, while Detmer added 11 tallies. Overall, there were 46 fouls called in the game, which resulted in a combined 50 free throw attempts.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks play the first of two straight home games to close out the regular season. Lehigh hosts Bucknell from Stabler Arena beginning at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available in advance for $5 by calling 610-7LU-GAME, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com. They may also be purchased for $8 at the arena box office prior to tip-off.