Lehigh comes up short versus Leopards, 68-66
Posted: February 22, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh and Lafayette engaged in a classic rivalry matchup on Sunday afternoon with the Leopards outlasting the Mountain Hawks 68-66 at Stabler Arena. Lehigh had one final attempt to either tie or win the game but the in-bounds pass was knocked away and time expired as the Brown and White falls to 15-11 overall and 5-7 in the Patriot League. Four Mountain Hawks scored in double figures with Zahir Carrington leading the way with 15 points, while Marquis Hall added 12 and Prentice Small and Dave Buchberger both scored ten. Lafayette was led by Andrew Brown’s game-high 26 points, which came on 10-of-16 shooting, as the Leopards up their record to 8-19 overall and 4-8 in the league.
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“This was another classic edition of Lehigh versus Lafayette,” head coach Brett Reed explained afterwards. “The game was filled with lots of emotion and energy, but in the end we came up short.” He continued, “The free throw line was certainly a big difference in the game. It carried over from the other night when we were able to secure a victory despite not making many attempts, but tonight it made a difference in the outcome.”
Reed then commented on the play of Lafayette’s Andrew Brown. “Andrew has been through a number of these Lehigh – Lafayette games before and he understands that as a senior he needed to step up and make the plays his team needed. He was able to hit a number of big shots and as a senior he understood the importance of this rivalry game.”
Lehigh shot 41-percent from the floor, but only 52-percent from the free throw line as the Mountain Hawks connected on 12-of-23 attempts at the charity stripe. Anderson led the Brown and White with nine rebounds, while Small was the team leader in assists with four. Lehigh sank six three-pointers for the game and turned the ball over 16 times.
Lafayette connected on 44-percent from the field, and like Lehigh, the Leopards hit six shots from downtown. Mintz pulled down 12 boards for a double-double, while Jeff Kari and Brown combined for 11 helpers. The Leopards turned the ball over 17 times and sank 10-of-14 at the free throw line.
Lafayette jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first 3:19 of the game before Keefer splashed a jumper for Lehigh’s first points at the 16:13 mark. A three by Willen gave the Leopards a seven-point cushion, but Carrington took a feed from Hall on Lehigh’s next possession and slammed home the assist to make the score 9-4. A steal by Small led to a Hall lay up and resulted in the game’s first tie at 9-9, but Gruner scored on the other end and was fouled, and following his free throw, the Leopards were up 12-9.
Lehigh took its first lead of the day following a wild sequence in which Hall stole the ball and made an acrobatic lay up on the other end while getting fouled. That basket gave the Mountain Hawks a 15-14 lead at the 9:07 mark, but Brown buried a jumper on Lafayette’s next possession to give the lead back to the visitors. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half and Lafayette took a six-point lead into halftime, 32-26.
Lehigh shot only 36-percent in the opening half, including a 1-of-7 showing from three-point range, while Lafayette connected on half of its attempts. Hall led the Mountain Hawks with six points, while Small added five tallies and a team-best three helpers. Anderson pulled down four of Lehigh’s 20 rebounds, while as a team the Brown and White turned the ball over ten times.
Brown (11) and Mintz (10) both hit for double figures in the opening 20 minutes, while pulled down a team-best five boards. Brown led the visitors with three helpers and the Leopards turned the ball over nine times, while sinking four of their five free throw attempts.
Brown caught fire in the second half, drilling back-to-back threes to open up a ten-point Lafayette lead at the 16:43 mark. Lehigh cut the lead to five on a three by senior Matt Szalachowski, but Brown responded with another three to push the visitors lead back up to eight. Anderson responded with a three of his own at the other end, and following a Carrington lay up, Lehigh was down only three. Ryan Willen made it a six-point game with a trifecta on the other end, but Carrington sank a pair at the line to make it a four-point game.
A three-pointer by Small brought Lehigh to within a single point, and Buchberger drilled a three on the next possession to send the Stabler Arena faithful into a frenzy and put Lehigh up two, 48-46. A Small lay up gave the Mountain Hawks a four-point cushion, but Lafayette responded with four straight to tie the game at 52 at the 8:03 mark.
Coming down the stretch Lafayette took a two-point lead on a Mintz lay up, but Hall tied the game with a pair at the charity stripe. A Gruner free throw gave the visitors a one-point lead with 27 ticks to go, and Kari hit two more at the stripe to make the score 65-62 with only 22 seconds remaining. Carrington made one-of-two on the other end to pull Lehigh within two, but Brown got free for a lay up as Lafayette broke Lehigh’s press, and that made the score 67-63. Buchberger answered with a three for Lehigh to bring the home team within one, and Ben Wheeler then got fouled for the Leopards. Wheeler missed the first attempt and although he tried to miss it, made the second attempt. That made the score 68-66 with two ticks to go, but Lehigh’s full court pass was batted down and time ran out on the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh will return to action on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks head to Lewisburg to take on the Bucknell Bison at Sojka Pavilion. The opening tip is set for 7:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM as well as Lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr calling the action. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 6:30.
Photography 2009 (c), Specialty Photographic