Lehigh men’s basketball defeats Lafayette in double overtime – The Brown and White
Lehigh defeated Lafayette, 94-90, Saturday at Stabler Arena in a double-overtime comeback victory where the Leopards led by as several as 21 points.
This game marked the return of preseason All-Patriot League junior guard Keith Higgins, who suffered a strained Achilles in Lehigh’s Jan. 6 win over Loyola (Md.). Lehigh coach Brett Reed made it clear that Higgins might see limited minutes as he looked to ease the junior back into play.
“It was a little in the air,” Higgins said. “We were going to see how it was going. I think I had a 20 minute restriction, but it wasn’t a hard cap.”
Higgins finished the game with 15 points in 25 minutes. His first points came from a four-point play with 10:12 left in the second.
Lehigh (8-15, 5-7 Patriot) was led in scoring by senior forward Dominic Parolin, who had a career high 33 points with five 3-pointers and nine rebounds, while first-year guard Mark Butler led Lafayette (10-15, 9-3 Patriot) with 20.
Senior forward Burke Chebuhar also shined for the Mountain Hawks with 28 points, 16 of which came from the free throw line.
Lafayette led for the vast majority of the contest, spending 41:21 in control to Lehigh’s 5:17.
The first half was characterized by a lack of involvement on the offensive end, with only four players getting on the board in the first half. Lehigh shot a dismal 8-24 from the field in the first half.
Conversely, the 3-point-heavy Lafayette sank 6 of their 11 first half three-point attempts.
Lafayette might go on two ten-point runs in the first as Lehigh struggled to keep up en route to a 41-27 deficit
“I think we didn’t come out with a lot of energy,” first-year guard Cam Gillus said. “It wasn’t really things they were doing, it was kind of mistakes on our part.”
In all, Lehigh got to the line 33 times, which Parolin said was part of the game plan.
“We realized we were putting the bigs into foul trouble,” Parolin said. “We were really punishing them. We just keep shooting, keep going at them,” Parolin said.
Lehigh started the second half hot, with a Tyler Whitney-Sidney steal leading to a contact layup over Lafayette junior 7-footer Justin Vander Baan. An assist from Whitney-Sidney on the next possession resulted in a Dominic Parolin 3.
Whitney-Sidney was holding three fingers up before the ball hit the nylon.
Lafayette led 47-41 with 15:22 remaining, and the Lehigh student section grew livelier as the Mountain Hawks closed the gap.
“We haven’t had this several fans at Stabler in a while, and we start a lot of young guys, so (we were) just getting acclimated to the game and feeling the pace,” Higgins said.
Lehigh capitalized off Lafayette mistakes in the second half, with 19 points off turnovers and seven steals.
A Chebuhar baseline jumper with two seconds left tied the game at 64 and sent it to overtime.
Between both overtime periods, the lead changed hands seven times as both teams were unable to gain an edge.
With 34 seconds on the clock, Higgins shook his defender at the 3-point line and created enough space to launch and sink a triple that gave the Mountain Hawks an 89-86 advantage. Chebuhar added to that after getting fouled while pulling down a defensive rebound.
Three Chebuhar free throws iced the Lehigh comeback.
“A game like this is meaningful,” Reed said. “This is what college basketball is about. You got kids out there trying to figure it out, sometimes falling and failing, but then picking themselves right back up, and then trying as hard as they can to do the next right thing.”
Lehigh faces off against Bucknell on Feb. 12 in Lewisburg.
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