Lehigh was out for revenge at Kirby Arena on Saturday after losing its last rivalry game 74-56 at home.
After its Saturday afternoon victory, Lehigh snapped a seven-game losing streak in a 62-59 win.
“We’ve been really focused on practice the past couple days and the past week,” senior guard Jordan Cohen said. “We’ve obviously had a rough time that last game. I think we were just frustrated and needed to pull it together. It’s always exciting playing here at Lafayette. They had a huge crowd and a nice atmosphere, so we just came ready to win.”
Both teams struggled to find a scoring rhythm, shooting below 38 percent from the field in the first half. There were 11 turnovers in the first 13 minutes of the half.
The Mountain Hawks were up 31-21 at halftime with a last-second three-pointer by Cohen, giving Lehigh a cushion heading into the locker room.
Freshman guard Reed Fenton and junior forward Marques Wilson were the leading scorers of the half, each notching 9 points. Jeameril Wilson finished the game with 15 rebounds and 13 points, displaying a high level of tenacity all afternoon.
“It was definitely the coach’s message before the game,” Jeameril Wilson said. “He said if we were going to do anything today, we should come out and play with passion. I think I was feeding off of all of the other guys’ passion, and I just came out and played with passion, and that was the outcome.”
Lafayette had three turnovers to start off the second half, which helped Lehigh amass a 38-25 lead.
The Leopards began to chip away at Lehigh’s lead and, after shooting 50 percent from the field, cut the deficit to seven points with 11:48 to go.
Lafayette continued applying pressure on Lehigh’s defense, bringing the score to 43-40, and head coach Brett Reed was forced to call a timeout.
The Mountain Hawks continued to struggle, shooting just 11.8 percent in the half with 7:55 to go. A pair of free throws from E.J. Stephens narrowed Lehigh’s lead to a point before Lafayette’s Justin Jaworski nailed a three-pointer to give the Leopards their first lead since the first half.
A quick response from Fenton and Cohen gave Lehigh a six-point lead, but neither team remained comfortable as the game continued.
The Mountain Hawks called a timeout with a 56-55 lead and 2:09 remaining in the game.
After the timeout, Lynch hit a corner shot to give Lehigh a three-point lead with 58.6 seconds left.
Following Lynch’s shot, Lehigh’s converted free throws secured the 62-59 victory.
Wilson said the difference in tonight’s game was their mindset and their focus.
“Last game we were in a mindset where we haven’t lost to Lafayette in five years,” Jeameril Wilson said. “They came out and wanted it more than us. This game we showed we wanted it.”
Lehigh will look to make it two wins in a row when they face Holy Cross at Stabler Arena on Feb 12.