Lehigh men’s basketball struggled down the stretch, falling 82-70 against rival Lafayette on Jan. 3 at Kirby Sports Center in Easton.
After an emotional win on Saturday afternoon punctuated with a Marques Wilson buzzer-beating three, Lehigh came out strong going up 16-2 in the first six minutes of action. Their fast start was not enough to capture a second straight win.
Lafayette responded after Lehigh’s initial run, with Justin Jaworski catching fire and scoring 20 first-half points.
After the Leopards took their first lead, the Mountain Hawks started constantly feeding center Nic Lynch, who led the Mountain Hawks with 20 points.
Lafayette’s outside shooting carried them in the first half going 8-15 from the three-point range.
“Unfortunately today we didn’t do as good a job defending the three-point line,” Head Coach Brett Reed said after the game.
Wilson finished the first half strong, scoring the final six points and cutting Lafayette’s half-time lead to 44-40.
After the half, Lynch made a pair of baseline jump shots to cut the deficit to three, but the Leopard’s talented offense was too much to handle.
While Jaworski scored 20 first-half points, Lehigh’s defense contained Jaworski in the second half, limiting him to eight second-half points.
“He was very comfortable and didn’t have bodies close enough in the first half,” Reed said. “Give him credit, he runs 100 miles per hour and gets a lot of distance in a game running sideline to sideline as well as one end line to the other end line. We had to make a commitment to be there more strongly on the catch as opposed to a lot of recovery contests or recovery situations.”
Freshman center Dominic Parolin was a bright spot in the second half as he found his way to the free-throw line consistently with his tenacious cuts to the rim, going 6-6 from the line.
A pair of three-pointers by Jaworksi and guard Tyrone Perry gave the Leopards the lead they needed to clinch today’s game. The Leopards closed the game on a 19-8 run to defeat the Mountain Hawks by a final score of 82-70.
“We dug down a little deeper and responded,” Lafayette Head Coach Fran O’Hanlon said, “We had a couple stops and couple nice shots, and it came down to our defensive grittiness”
Lehigh will look to bounce back next weekend when they head to American on Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. and when they return home on Jan 10 at 4 p.m.