A tightly-played, close first half between the Lehigh and Lafayette men’s basketball teams was blown up by a string of big offensive plays early in the second half by the Leopards to put the game out of reach.
Lehigh fell to Lafayette 74-56 at Stabler Arena on Saturday afternoon to drop to 5-15 overall and 2-6 in the Patriot League.
Lehigh kept the first half close, entering the break trailing 33-25. But after the teams traded baskets for several minutes to open the half, Lafayette broke through, leading by as much as 25 at one point.
The scoring run by the Leopards was fueled by three three-pointers by three different players in a one-minute span.
Lafayette maintained control throughout the vast majority of the game, leading for almost 38 minutes out of the 40-minute game.
But the breaking point for the Mountain Hawks was Lafayette’s 41-point second half, in which the team shot 57 percent from the field and 7-15 from three-point range. Overall, the Leopards shot 50 percent from the field during the game and made 11 threes. Lehigh shot 39 percent from the field and made five threes during the game.
“The beginning of the second half was the story of the game,” said head coach Brett Reed. “They played with an open floor, which allowed them to score a lot of points in a short period of time.”
Lafayette also converted on Lehigh mistakes, scoring 15 points off turnovers and tallying up 16 fast breaks.
Reed said fatigue played a role in Lehigh’s performance, having gotten back from a game at Holy Cross at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday and then sustaining the emotional intensity before a rivalry game.
“Fatigue ended up setting in, and we weren’t able to answer with anything but a little bit of inexperience off the bench,” Reed said.
Junior Lafayette guard Justin Jaworski led all scorers with 20 points, including 15 in the first half and three threes during the game. Lafayette forward Leo O’Boyle also put up 12 points.
Six-foot-eleven center Nic Lynch was a bright spot for the Mountain Hawks, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds. Lehigh was able to outscore Lafayette in the paint 24-20.
“In the second half, we came out and gave them way too much life… We got ourselves in a hole, and the urgency wasn’t there for the first 10 minutes or so of the second half, and that’s really what did it,” Lynch said.
Jeameril Wilson, a Lehigh forward, scored 11 points, and Reed Fenton, Marques Wilson and Jakob Alamudun all ended with 8 points. Senior guard Jordan Cohen made only one shot from the field but contributed six assists.
“In the first half, we were playing hard, we were playing good defense, getting back in transition, not allowing too many pop-up threes,” Fenton said. “ In the second half, we just lost focus, let them get on a run and just couldn’t stop it.”
At halftime, the 2010 Lehigh Patriot League championship team was honored at center court and both teams commemorated the Coaches versus Cancer initiative before the game.
Lehigh’s next game will be at American University on Jan. 27. Lafayette heads to Colgate on Jan. 29.