The Mountain Hawks started their pursuit of a third straight win quickly, scoring the game’s first eight points and keeping their opponents off the scoreboard for the first five minutes of the game.
There were many reasons for optimism from the home team. After all, they had won five of their previous six games and were coming off back-to-back wins in which they set season-lows in turnovers and outscored their opponents by a combined 21 points.
This game was a little different.
Despite the quick start, Lehigh (12-9, 6-4 Patriot) wasn’t able to continue its winning streak and fell to Boston University 76-59 Monday night in Stabler Arena.
There were a number of issues that plagued Lehigh throughout the game, but the most significant was the team’s inability to hold on to the ball. Coach Brett Reed noted the importance of the turnovers in determining the result of the game.
“Turnovers really changed the course of this game, because ultimately Boston U walked away with 28 points off of turnovers, and many of them were kind of direct off bad plays and poor decisions on our part,” Reed said.
After committing just 19 combined turnovers over the past two games, the Mountain Hawks matched their season high with 20. Five players had three or more turnovers.
Credit should be given to the Terriers, whose zone defense was rewarded with 14 steals, including five by leading scorer Eric Fanning.
Freshman Jordan Cohen, who finished second on the team in scoring with 16 points, thought the Mountain Hawks could have done better against Boston U’s defense.
“We have seen that kind of press, I don’t think we should’ve fallen apart like we did,” Cohen said. “We’ve practiced against that stuff.”
The Terriers converted those 20 turnovers into 28 points, compared to the 10 points that Lehigh managed off of Boston U’s 15 turnovers.
While the Mountain Hawks weren’t helping themselves out on the offensive end, their rebounding was costing them points as well. Despite only grabbing four fewer boards than Boston, Lehigh surrendered nine offensive rebounds that resulted in 17 second-chance points for its opponent.
“It’s tough, but obviously defense doesn’t stop after the first shot,” Cohen said.
Again, Lehigh kept pace with six offensive rebounds of its own, but only managed to get three points out of them.
The turnover and rebounding troubles were problematic, but perhaps could have been overcome if the shots were falling.
The 59 points scored by Lehigh is the team’s second lowest total all season and its lowest output since a 62-57 loss on Dec. 6.
“Unfortunately, it was a night where we didn’t get the production or performance from some of the guys that we normally count on at a very high level,” Reed said. “They’re good players. It wasn’t their night.”
Junior Kahron Ross, senior Austin Price and sophomore Kyle Leufroy all struggled on the night. Each of them average double digits in scoring, but they combined for just 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting and 11 turnovers.
Lehigh’s fast start to the game was quickly neutralized by the visiting team. After surrendering the first eight points, Boston went on to score the next 12 points on the way to a 22-3 run that put the Terriers up 22-11.
“I feel like we just kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit,” Leufroy said. “The run kind of started because we we really had high energy, especially on the defensive end. I think we kind of let up defensively and then turnovers just killed us.”
Lehigh was behind for the rest of the game, trailing by as many as 23 late in the second half. Reed expressed disappointment with the team’s energy late in the game.
“One of the proponents of our team that we continue to preach is toughness,” Reed said. “I thought we demonstrated with good energy and good toughness in the beginning of the game. However, as the game progressed, we kind of faded away and they surged.”
Lehigh will return to the court Wednesday, traveling to Maryland to face off against Loyala University. Senior Tim Kempton needs just one point to become the seventh leading scorer in Patriot League history and just six points to become the fourth leading scorer in Lehigh history.