After several lead changes, the Yale University used a late run to pull away from the Lehigh men’s basketball team 86-77 at Stabler Arena Wednesday night.
The Mountain Hawks (4-5) were unable to convert early on and missed several opportunities which allowed Yale (6-5) to take advantage both defensively and offensively.
Lehigh trailed by 19 in the first half.
“Tonight I was disappointed with our slow start,” coach Brett Reed said. “I thought Yale took the game to us and we were slow to react.”
But Lehigh did eventually find its balance.
“I give our guys a tremendous amount of credit because they took their energy and their effort to a whole new level,” Reed said. “After falling behind and being pinned into a corner, with a solid run that was focused on defensive stops and defensive energy, we were able to get back into the game.”
After a few rotations and a focus on defensive communication, Lehigh was able to convert on opportunities that it didn’t get early on. Junior guard Kyle Leufroy broke up a pass and had a breakaway, while also drawing a foul to create a surge in momentum.
“Any time we can get a transition and run it’s obviously good for the team and creates energy,” Leufroy said. “Any time someone plays with a high level of energy, especially in a close game, it’s good because we were in the middle of a big comeback in that moment and obviously the momentum switches.”
Despite the 19-point deficit, The Mountain Hawks went into the second half leading by two after a 30-9 run to end the half.
“At the half, coach Reed said to start the game off better,” senior guard Kahron Ross said. “We started off real slow so we had to start the second half the same way we ended the last 12 minutes of the first half.”
But the Mountain Hawks were unable to find the same momentum that they had in the first half.
Reed believed that the second half was the same story as the first half, that defensive communication was missing and this made it harder for the Mountain Hawks to transition offensively.
“In the first half offensively we started to get into a rhythm which allowed us to make stops and transition better,” Leufroy said. “We were pretty stagnant in the second half.”
Leufroy attributed this to fouls.
“We have to figure that out, Leufroy said. “We have been fouling all year, with 10 minutes left and they are double bonus and every time they are getting touched they are going to line, that is an issue.”
Every time the Mountain Hawks gained some momentum, it would shift due to fouls. Sophomore forward Pat Andree received a flagrant, which took him out of the game for a few minutes and ultimately gave Yale all the momentum the rest of the way.
Ross agreed with Leufroy.
“I thought we fouled a lot when we were out of position,” Ross said. “We had them in the double bonus, we should have attacked rim instead of settling for jump shots.
At the end of the day, Reed said that Yale seemed to answer the call. The Bulldogs always made a shot in a pressure situation.
“We had a couple times on our offensive possessions where we weren’t able to keep pace, whether it was a missed free throw or a missed open shot, those things really come back to bite you,” Reed said. “You are just forced to try to keep up with the point production.”