WEST POINT, N.Y. Lehigh overcome an early 17-2 deficit to defeat Army, 57-52, on Sunday, Jan. 20 in Patriot League men’s basketball action at Christl Arena. Both teams now sport identical 8-9 overall records and 1-2 conference marks.
Army opened quickly, scoring the first nine points of the game and led 17-2 with 10:51 to go in the first half. Lehigh was able to whittle the lead down to seven points, and Army led by nine at the half, 31-22.
The Mountain Hawks outscored the Black Knights by 14 points in the second stanza. Army was able to hold on to its lead until the 6:43 mark when Zahir Carrington tied the game at 42-42. The Black Knights scored the next four points, but Lehigh went on a 6-0 run on back-to-back three-pointers by Marquis Hall and Phil Anderson to take its first lead of the game. Sophomore G Cleveland Richard hit a jumper in the lane and senior G Jarell Brown followed to put the Black Knights back on top 50-48 with 2:55 remaining. Bryan White came right back with a bucket for the Mountain Hawks to tie it for the third time, but Brown hit a pair of free throws to give Army a two-point margin with 2:14 left. Carrington struck again for Lehigh, tying the game for the fourth and final time.
Lehigh made two key plays in the final 1:21. With the score tied at 52-52, the Mountain Hawks missed a jumper but White made a leaping save of the rebound while falling out of bounds. The ball went right to Rob Keefer underneath the hoop, and he converted the uncontested layup to put Lehigh ahead to stay. Army came up empty on its next possession, and immediately turned up the defensive pressure. The Mountain Hawks ran the shot clock down under 10 seconds before Hall hit an off-balance three-pointer with a defender in his face with seven seconds left to seal the Lehigh victory.
Brown led all scorers with 17 points, his best offensive output in four games. Junior F Doug Williams scored six points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Carrington was Lehigh’s top scorer with 16 points. Hall also scored in double figures with 11. Keefer and White each had eight.
After making just one of its first six shots, Lehigh finished the game 22 of 42 (52.4 percent) from the field, including 6 of 11 from three-point range. The Black Knights hit 42.3 percent of their shots, but were just 9 of 27 (33.3 percent) in the second half.
Army outrebounded the Mountain Hawks, 28-24, marking the first time this season the Black Knights lost a game in which they held the rebounding advantage. Army forced 19 turnovers that led to 29 points for the game, but just six of those points came after halftime.
The Black Knights opened strong on both ends of the floor, scoring the first nine points and holding Lehigh scoreless for the first 5:28 of the game. Ten of Army’s first 15 points came on the fast break, including an emphatic dunk by Brown following a steal. With Army ahead by 15, Matt Szalachowski hit a three-pointer to spark a 5-0 run that got Lehigh back within 10 points with 9:39 left in the half. Corban Bates’ second three-pointer of the half pushed Army’s lead back to 13, but Lehigh used an 8-2 run to get within seven at 22-15 with 5:12 left. That’s as close as the Mountain Hawks would get in the first half, and Army went into the locker room up nine.
Army led by 10 in the second stanza after a layup by Brown with 14:59 left in the contest, but Lehigh closed within four after a 9-3 spurt. Brown put the Black Knights back up by six, but the Mountain Hawks scored the next six points to tie the game and set up the frenetic ending.
The Black Knights will try to rebound on Wednesday, Jan. 23 when they host American. Tip-off at Christl Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Sunday’s game was Army’s first home game since Jan. 5 ... Corban Bates’ two three-pointers were his first of the season ... He entered Sunday’s game 0 for 1 from deep on the year ... Lehigh’s 52.4 shooting percentage was the best by an Army opponent this season and only the second time the Black Knights allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent this season ... Army entered the game ranked first in the Patriot League at field goal percentage defense mark of 40.4 ... Twenty-three of Army’s 31 first-half points came off turnovers ... Marcus Nelson made a career-high five steals, tying the top single-game total by a Patriot League player this season ... Army used a season-low nine players in the game ... Every player that saw at least 10 minutes of action scored a minimum of four points ... All 10 of Army’s fast break points for the game came in the opening 15-2 run.