Just four days after challenging the No. 12 Villanova University all the way to the end, Lehigh’s basketball team struggled mightily in its home opener.
After getting out to a slow start, Lehigh fell to Canisius College 63-51 Tuesday in its first game of the year at Stabler Arena.
The turning point of the game was when Canisius went on an 18-4 run throughout the middle of the second half and completely turned the game around. Lehigh attempted a comeback late in the second half and cut the lead to three, but Canisius scored the final nine points of the game to seal the victory.
The Mountain Hawks shot just 32.7 percent from the field and 20 percent from the three-point line. Canisius didn’t shoot much better, finishing with a 32.2 percent rate from the field.
Sophomore forward Tim Kempton led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes of play. But, he also led the team in turnovers with five.
“Turnovers are just something that are ultimately going to come with the game, but definitely with the experience with the younger players and even experience with the veterans playing in this game, people need to take care of the ball, people need to own it,” Kempton said.
The Mountain Hawks went almost the entire first half without a lead until freshman guard Brandon Alston hit a corner three-pointer and gave them a 20-19 lead.
Alston, who struggled in his first game of his career last Friday against Villanova University, bounced back and played 26 minutes. Alston finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
While poor shooting was a factor, Canisius was no better at shooting and still won the game by double digits. Lehigh’s 20 turnovers in the game hurt the team and gave Canisius continuous opportunities to build a lead.
After Lehigh had problems with rebounding in its opener against Villanova, the team out-rebounded Canisius 43-39 in this game. In addition to Kempton’s total, junior forward Jesse Chuku had seven rebounds, as well.
Lehigh’s starting guards all had a difficult time from the field and prevented the team from getting anything going early, each only making one field goal. After putting up 24 points against Villanova, sophomore guard Austin Price had trouble getting anything to fall, making just one of nine shots for two points.
Freshman guard Kahron Ross had similar trouble, going just one for five from the floor for four points. He got into foul trouble early and played just five minutes in the first half. He then played the entire second half, but he was still unable to make shots. He had just one assist after getting seven in the game against Villanova.
Lehigh will go for a third try for its first win of the season when it travels to face Rider University on Friday at 7 p.m.