After a high-energy first half for the men’s basketball team, Rutgers was able to force overtime and escape with a 73-70 win, handing the Mountain Hawks their first loss of the year.
Marques Wilson led the way for Lehigh with 21 points, hitting three three-pointers and dishing out three assists.
Eight different players scored in the first half, showing off the depth that coach Brett Reed emphasized in the preseason as a strong point for the team.
Lehigh was able to work the ball around the floor and keep Rutgers out of their man-to-man positioning, allowing them to maintain dominance, which led them to finish the half with a 36-31 lead.
Junior Evan Taylor was a top-five rebounder in the Patriot League last year and was able to grab seven rebounds tonight against Rutgers. Sophomore Dominic Parolin led the team with 14 rebounds to go along with his 13 points on seven shots.
Lehigh struggled last year as a team in the Patriot League, maintaining the lowest field goal accuracy, at 43 percent. Tonight, Lehigh showed signs of improvement with their efficiency, making 47 percent of their shots against a Rutgers team that was seconds away from the Sweet 16 last year in NCAA’s March Madness tournament. Lehigh did struggle from three-point range, however, shooting 31 percent.
“We competed for a good portion of the game; we gave them a good fight,” coach Brett Reed said. “We answered their runs. We seemed to be able to offensively respond, and I’m really pleased with that. I saw a lot of good things from our team, obviously, there are still a lot of things that we need to grow and build upon.”
The second half was dominated by Marques Wilson’s offensive and defensive capabilities for Lehigh.
He made both a three-point jumper and a layup at integral moments.
However, Rutgers’ sophomore Clifford Omoruyi’s sheer strength and speed on the court could not be bested; he ended the game with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Fatigue set in for Lehigh as the game began to wind down, and Lehigh lost their offensive footing. This allowed Rutgers to maintain a small lead.
However, Lehigh’s defense was able to keep them in the game, limiting Rutgers to 7.7 percent from the three-point line throughout the duration of the game.
Down 60-56 with time running down, Lehigh went on a six-point run. After a free throw from Jeameril Wilson, a three from Marques Wilson and a layup from Dominic Parolin, Lehigh led 62-61.
However, Rutgers’ Geo Baker was able to hit a turnaround bank jump shot from the top of the key to force the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Scarlet Knights were able to contain Lehigh’s offense and outscore them 10-7.
“We had a lot of turnovers, which kind of cost us the game in the end,” freshman Ben Knotsman said.
After a 73-70 overtime loss to Rutgers, Lehigh will now move on to play New Jersey Institute of Technology at home on Nov. 13, with tipoff at 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena.