Feb. 22, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -
The Lafayette men's basketball team sweated out a 68-66 victory against Lehigh on Sunday afternoon. With the win, Lafayette (8-19, 4-8) defeated its rival at Stabler Arena for the first time since 2002. (Lafayette was credited with a forfeit win in 2005 when Lehigh used an ineligible player.)
With the score tied at 62 with 29 seconds on the clock, Andrew Brown pulled up for a jumper. He missed, but Michael Gruner grabbed the ball underneath and was fouled. He made the first and missed the second. On the rebound Alex Orchowski tipped the ball and Lehigh's Zahir Carrington tried to corral it, but knocked it out of bounds.
Lehigh (15-11, 5-7) put Jeff Kari on the free throw line this time, and the junior captain knocked down both with 21.8 seconds remaining to secure the win.
Brown led the Leopards with 26 points on 10-of-16 from the field, but Jared Mintz carried Lafayette with his second career double-double with a career-highs in points (21) and rebounds (12).
Lehigh boasted five players in double figure scoring as Carrington led the way with 15 points. Marquis Hall added 12 and Jordan Hamilton, Prentice Small and Phil Anderson each posted 10 points.
Lafayette attacked with three baskets in a 40-second span to jut out to a 6-0 lead. When Ryan Willen swished a three at 15:54, the Leopards held a 9-2 advantage.
Hall capped seven unanswered Lehigh points with a layup to tie it at nine, but Gruner responded with a three-point play.
The Leopards went to work on the Mountain Hawks, inside and out. When Mintz wasn't chipping in bucket after bucket, Brown would hit a dagger from outside. With 9:29 remaining, the duo combined for 15 of Lafayette's next 16 points to help the Leopards take a 30-24 lead.
Lafayette went into the half with a 32-26 lead when Orchowski tipped in the ball with 24 seconds remaining.
Brown opened the half with back-to-back treys, pouring in Lafayette's first 11 points to extend the Leopards' advantage to 43-35 with 15:27 remaining.
The Mountain Hawks cut it to a three-point deficit when Anderson was fouled on a good three-pointer. He missed the free throw and Willen gave Lafayette some breathing room with a wide-open trey, 46-40, with 14:19 to go.
Lehigh wasn't fazed as Small and Dave Buchberger hit back-to-back treys to regain a 48-46 lead. Mintz took over Lafayette's offense, chipping in the next seven points. His and-one play at 8:03 gave the Leopards back a 53-52 lead.
The teams traded the lead twice and tied it twice more until Kari's two free throws made it 65-62 with 22 seconds left. Lafayette added to the lead when they inbounded the ball and worked it down court to find Brown cutting wide open for a layup.
The Mountain Hawks grasped for a last-second win when Buchberger drained a three with 1.4 seconds left to trail by one, but their effort wasn't enough to overcome Lafayette's momentum.
Lafayette shot 10-of-14 (71%) from the free throw line while Lehigh was 12-of-23 (52%). Lehigh held a slight edge in the rebounding, 41-39.
The Leopards finish the season with back-to-back home games beginning Wednesday when they host Army at 7 p.m.
Ryan Willen suffered a head injury at 9:16 under the basket and left the floor for the remainder of the first half. He returned to the court at the start of the second half.