Lehigh grinds out 57-55 overtime win over Boston University

Courtesy of LehighSports.com

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Sophomore Jeameril Wilson had a big block with 10 seconds left in overtime to deny Boston University leading scorer Max Mahoney on a point-blank opportunity as that play helped seal a gutsy 57-55 overtime victory on Wednesday evening in Stabler Arena. Defense was the story all game. The Mountain Hawks held the Terriers to their fewest points of Patriot League play and just 28.6 percent shooting from the field (including 0-of-9 in overtime). There were only six total points in the extra session, but Lehigh scored four of them to pick up its second straight win and fourth in the last six games.

With the win, the Mountain Hawks improve to 6-11 in league play. With a win at Loyola Saturday (5 p.m.), Lehigh would earn a home game in the Patriot League opening round next Tuesday (Mar. 3) at 7 p.m. If that were to happen, the Mountain Hawks would host those same Greyhounds.

“Our defense was locked in, and it had to be,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “In the first half, we had some miscues. We didn’t finish as well as I would expect, but we persevered. With nine first-half turnovers, reducing that to four over the next 25 minutes (second half and overtime) was critical. Getting big rebounds from our forwards was absolutely fantastic, whether it’s James, Jeameri, and then Evan coming in and giving us some huge, huge rebounds.”

The Mountain Hawks finished with a 50-47 edge on the glass, with junior James Karnik (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Jeameril Wilson (11 points, 11 rebounds) each posting double-doubles. It marked their fifth and second career double-doubles, respectively.

Senior Jordan Cohen led the offense with 14 points, 13 coming after halftime. Junior Marques Wilson added eight points, four rebounds and four assists. Freshman Evan Taylor tallied seven points and seven boards.

“At the beginning of the second half, our defense was locked in, but we gave up four offensive rebounds in the first few minutes,” said Reed. “Evan ended up using his size and athleticism with seven boards, and that certainly helped us a great deal.”

Lehigh led for much of the first few minutes, but the Terriers used an 11-0 run to turn a 17-16 Mountain Hawks’ advantage into a 27-17 Boston University lead with 2:05 left in the first half.

Lehigh answered in a big way, scoring 21 of the next 26 points and beginning the second half on a 17-4 run. Cohen was a huge spark, scoring nine points in the run. He knocked down a jumper to give Lehigh a 33-32 lead, then had a steal and 3-pointer less than 30 seconds later to put the Mountain Hawks ahead, 36-32.

Lehigh’s lead reached six following a Wilson layup, but the Terriers responded to take the lead back. The Mountain Hawks eventually reopened a six-point, 51-45 advantage with less than five minutes remaining, but the Terriers used an 8-0 run to take a 53-51 advantage into the final two minutes.

Karnik evened the score with a layup in the final minute to help force overtime.

Neither team scored until nearly three minutes into OT, courtesy of a Jeameril Wilson driving layup. That proved to be the only field goal of overtime. At the end, Mahoney had the chance at the rim, but Wilson’s block followed by two Cohen free throws helped seal the victory.

For the game, the Mountain Hawks shot 38.1 percent from the field (24-of-63), including 23.5 percent from 3-point range (4-of-17). The Terriers finished at 28.6 percent (20-of-70) and 23.8 percent from long distance (5-of-21).

“Unbelievable block,” said Reed. “He stepped over and ended up getting his fingers on the ball just enough. Those were some of the plays we needed to make tonight.

The Mountain Hawks’ next challenge is at Loyola on Saturday, with a home game in the Patriot League Tournament on the line.

“I’m excited to see if our guys can continue to grow and evolve as they have, and bring the best version of themselves on Saturday,” said Reed. “Loyola is a team that’s played really good basketball as of late, so it’s going to be interesting. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited that we have more guys healthy and guys are locked in. If they’re coming in for a 30-second stint or for 29 minutes, guys are bringing a great deal of energy and support for our team.”

Lehigh held Boston University to under 45 percent shooting! Fans in attendance received a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees courtesy of The Brick in Bethlehem!

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