Courtesy of LehighSports.com
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Lehigh men’s basketball team knocked down 15 three-pointers, scored 51 first-half points and 87 for the game, but it wasn’t enough as Yale outscored the Mountain Hawks 46-36 in the second half to win, 97-87 on Wednesday evening.
Junior Jordan Cohen tied a career-high 21 points to pace the offense while senior Kyle Leufroy had a career-high 10 assists, but 40 of Yale’s 46 second-half points came from inside the arc or the free throw line, while holding 25-12 edge in second-half rebounds, which proved too much for the Mountain Hawks to overcome. The loss drops Lehigh’s record to 5-3 on the season, marking its first loss of the season not against a power-conference opponent.
“Tonight was a very entertaining, but also a very frustrating game,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “Both teams were really in a great flow and playing a high level of basketball. Yale is a good team. They have multiple scoring threats and can hurt you in a variety of different ways, including from three and as we found out in the second half, from the interior as well. It was frustrating for me because I think we could have done a better job. In the first half, they had some people step up and make shots that perhaps they normally don’t make quite as frequently, but in the second half, we became really loose with our defense. Our on-floor communication and on-floor discipline dissolved a little bit and we were content playing in a shootout. When we hit a little bit of a dry spell, it led to a run for Yale and we were playing catchup ever since.”
Lehigh led by as much as eight on multiple first-half occasions, but Yale pulled even at the half. The Mountain Hawks led for the beginning stages of the second, but Lehigh went 5:45 without a field goal in the middle stages of the stanza, allowing the Bulldogs to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Cohen’s 21 points came on 7-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three. Senior Lance Tejada had 19 points, including 5-of-9 from distance, while classmate Pat Andree scored 16 points. Leufroy had nine points and five rebounds, to go with his career-high 10 assists.
“There were a lot of times when we were really sharing the basketball,” said Reed. “We had guys in good spots, making shots. We had 24 assists on 31 field goals, so that says there are opportunities for the ball to move. We hit a bit of a dry spell. I’m not going to say they were all bad shots, but we quick shot the ball because we were feeling it. And when you quick shoot the ball and you don’t convert and you’re not playing defense, it leads to runs for the other team.”
It took just 1:10 into the game for each team to each knock down a pair of three-pointers. The Mountain Hawks created a little separation just under seven minutes in when freshman Jeameril Wilson finished a dunk off a great lead pass from Leufroy, then Cohen recorded a three-point play off a tremendous pass from Tejada. That gave Lehigh a 25-19 lead with 12:48 left in the first half.
A Marques Wilson corner trey gave Lehigh an eight-point, 30-22 advantage midway through the first, Yale got back within 32-28, but a Caleb Bennett free throw and Cohen three helped Lehigh regain an eight-point, 36-28 lead with 6:52 on the clock.
With the Mountain Hawks still leading by six with 4:11 left in the first, the Bulldogs scored eight of the next 10 points to even the score at 45, the fourth of six first-half ties. The sixth came following a Miye Oni basket in the final seconds to tie the score at 51 at halftime.
Lehigh knocked down three more treys in the first 2:33 of the second half to go back up five, 60-55. However, from there, the Mountain Hawks scored just four points over the next 7:57, with Yale scoring 17 in that span to take a 72-64 advantage just over the midway point of the second half.
The Mountain Hawks answered by immediately going on a 7-1 run, capped off by a Leufroy layup to pull within 73-71. That’s as close as Lehigh would get, though, as Yale’s lead reached double figures for the first time (86-75) with 3:30 remaining, on the way to the 97-87 final.
After shooting 59.4 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from three-point range in the first half, Lehigh shot 46.3 percent for the game (31-of-67), including 46.9 percent from behind the arc (15-of-32). Yale finished at 50.8 percent (33-of-65) and 35.5 percent from distance (11-of-31). The Bulldogs held a 43-28 edge in rebounds.
Lehigh will remain on the road on Saturday when it travels to Mount St. Mary’s. Opening tipoff is set for 4 p.m.