Posted: January 26, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh overcame a 14-point second half deficit to down archrival Lafayette 60-55 at Stabler Arena on Saturday evening in front of over 3,000 in attendance. Sophomore Zahir Carrington scored a game-high 18 points for the Mountain Hawks while senior captain Bryan White recorded his sixth career double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Lehigh (10-9, 3-2 PL) has now beaten Lafayette six consecutive times at home, the longest streak since 1991 through 1996. Lafayette falls to 13-7 overall with the loss and falls from the ranks of the unbeatens in Patriot League play at 4-1.
Lehigh struggled from the field at 34 percent, but the Mountain Hawks defense was more than up to the challenge of stopping Lafayette’s three-point attack which had been averaging 11 made trifects per game, but was held to a season-low five three-pointers. Lehigh pulled down 44 rebounds to Lafayette’s 38, while the Mountain Hawks dished out 15 assists on 20 field goals, led by Marquis Hall’s six. The two teams combined for 28 turnovers, with the Leopards recording nine steals.
“This was a tremendous win for our program in front of a great crowd,” head coach Brett Reed said afterwards. “We really got a big lift from everyone who stepped out there tonight and kept our composure even after being down (by 14 points).”
He added, “We’ve struggled this season in defending the three-point shot but we did a great job tonight in holding a very, very good shooting Lafayette team to only five made three-pointers. We contested nearly every shot they (Lafayette) took tonight and did a great job of identifying who their shooters were, where they were on the floor and ultimately in getting to them when they were shooting."
The Mountain Hawks came out strong from the start jumping out to a 12-3 lead at the 13:43 mark following a three-pointer by Hall. A three-point play by White made the score 15-8 Lehigh with 11:44 remaining in the opening half, but Lafayette responded with five straight points to pull within a bucket at the 9:57 mark. The Leopards pulled to within a single point after a Ted Detmer free throw with 2:34 to go, but Carrington hit a lay up and Lehigh went back up by three. Bilal Abdullah, who led Lafayette with 14 points, scored on a lay up of his own and Michael Gruner’s running jumper just before the buzzer put the visitors in front 28-27 at intermission.
At the start of the second half Lafayette unleashed a 13-0 run to push its lead to 41-27 at the 17:04 mark, but Lehigh responded with ten straight points of its own to pull back to within four at 41-37 at the 14:14 mark. Two straight scores by Lafayette gave the visiting team a seven-point advantage, but again Lehigh answered, this time ripping off seven straight punctuated by a Carrington jumper to tie the score at 44 with just less than ten minutes to go.
Matt Betley sank a free throw for Lafayette and Paul Cummins sank a three over the outstretched arms of Lehigh center John Gourlay, and Abdullah added a lay up as Lafayette went back up by six. But freshman Prentice Small hit a jumper and sophomore Dave Buchberger canned a three-pointer to bring Lehigh to within one point at 50-49 with 4:10 on the clock. The teams went back and forth over the next few minutes until Buchberger drilled another shot from downtown, this one coming from the left wing on a fast break, to push Lehigh ahead 54-53 at the 1:33 mark. From there the Mountain Hawks did not look back as they hit 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:10 to earn their eighth home win of the season.
Watch a replay of the Lehigh - Lafayette game on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM on award-winning Service Electric 2 Sports.
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to Lewisburg to take on the first place Bucknell Bison. Game time is set for 7:00 from Sojka Pavlion and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 beginning at 6:30 PM with veteran Matt Kerr.