Freshman guard Jayshen Saigal defends the ball. The Lehigh men's basketball team suffered a 75-47 loss to Loyola on Feb. 20. (Jessica Melon/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s basketball drops first game in weekend series to Loyola

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Lehigh men’s basketball suffered a 75-47 loss to Loyola Saturday afternoon at Stabler Arena. It was the first time the Mountain Hawks took the court since Jan. 31 after coming off their pause earlier this week.

Sitting at 3-8, if Lehigh wants to make the Patriot League Tournament, tomorrow and next weekend’s games against Lafayette are going to be crucial if they want to even be considered making it in.

A 14-day pause is not ideal for any team, but due to the nature of this COVID-19 season, most teams have had to deal with adversity. The pause proceeded to play a key role in today’s loss. They struggled to find their rhythm throughout the game, shooting 30.8 percent from the field and committing 18 turnovers. Loyola led the entire game.

The Greyhounds opened up the scoring off of a Santi Aldama jumper. He finished the night with 27 points and seven rebounds. Aldama is one of the best players in the Patriot League and has already set himself up to be one of the top NBA prospects in mid-major hoops. Jonathan Givony, an NBA Draft Analyst at ESPN, was even in attendance for Aldama’s performance.

Head coach Brett Reed said Aldama is a really good player who’s going to make tough shots. The key is to try and limit the number of shots he takes.

“Some of those shots were challenged, some of them were slight defensive breakdowns, where he ended up getting some threes,” Reed said “At the end of the day, what we need to do is play our type of defense, so it takes him more shot attempts to get to the points. So maybe instead of going 2-4, he goes 1-4.”

Junior forward Nic Lynch led Lehigh with 15 points, followed by freshman forward Ben Li who notched a career-high 13.

Despite today’s loss, Lehigh put up a good effort in the first half. The Greyhounds led 36-24 at the half, and Lehigh had nine first-half turnovers to help Loyola take the lead. The closest deficit of the whole game was one point when Lynch converted a layup three minutes in the game. After that, The Greyhounds completely dominated.

Before today, Loyola was 2-7. Hungry to make the Patriot League Tournament, they dominated the second half, totally taking control of the game. The Greyhounds outscored the Mountain Hawks 39-23 in the second half to lead them to their third win. A Brandon Baysher layup gave them a 32 point lead, the largest of the game. Despite some good effort at the end by some underclassmen, Lehigh could not comeback.

“Each of these games, each of these experiences, are opportunities to grow,” Reed said. “The kids need to be able to handle a curveball, and not be able to lose their confidence, not be able to lose their focus on what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Mountain Hawks look to bounce back tomorrow when they head to Baltimore to take on Loyola at 6:00 p.m.

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