Basketball loses to Lehigh to wrap up three-game home stand

by Dana Malajian | 12/1/08 3:23am

Big Green men's basketball fell to Lehigh University, 73-60, on Saturday in Leede Arena to finish off a three-game home stand with one win and two losses.

Lehigh (5-1, 0-0 Patriot) played a balanced game against the Big Green (1-4, 0-0 Ivy), managing to keep Dartmouth's leading scorer, forward Alex Barnett '09, at bay.

Barnett finished the game shooting only four of 19 from the field for a total of nine points, 14 below his season average.

Barnett was not the only Big Green player stifled by the Mountain Hawks' defense. As a team, Dartmouth made less than 33 percent of its field goal attempts and connected on just over half of its attempts from the free-throw line.

While the Mountain Hawks also had a less than impressive 38 percent shooting, their accuracy at the foul line helped the visitors gain and keep the lead. Lehigh made good on 23 of 27 opportunities from the charity stripe, while Dartmouth was nine of 17 from the foul line.

Junior Zahir Carrington led Lehigh with 15 points and 14 rebounds en route to his second career double-double. Nine Lehigh players contributed offensively, with six tallying eight or more points on the day.

Dan Biber '09 had an impressive game for the Big Green, coming off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 15 points in only 15 minutes on the court.

Biber scored 10 of those points in the final five minutes of play, leading an offensive push that would fail to overcome the Mountain Hawks' commanding late-game lead.

Starting center Elgin Fitzgerald '10 nearly got a double-double, tallying nine points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. The Big Green, however, trailed Lehigh in rebounds, 43-51.

Both teams failed to find their offensive rhythm at the start of the game. The Big Green hit just one of its first 11 shots with 10 straight misses. Lehigh also opened the game poorly hitting only two of its first 11 attempts. After seven minutes of play, the Mountain Hawks held a tenuous 5-4 lead.

When Lehigh broke the scoring drought with a lay-up and a 3-pointer from junior Dave Buchberger, the Big Green failed to keep up.

"I think one of the biggest problems we are having this year is that we are digging ourselves holes early and fighting uphill for the rest of the game," co-captain Robby Pride '10 said. "Playing with the lead is a lot easier than playing from behind. The only problem [against Lehigh] was a four- or five-possession stretch in the first half where our defense broke down, and we didn't make up for it on offense."

Thanks to the Big Green's unsuccessful shooting from the floor in the first half, Lehigh held a 33-20 lead going into the break.

The Mountain Hawks continued to widen their lead in the second half, extending the margin to 18 after a dunk from Carrington.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Biber and Pride, however, cut the lead to nine with 10 minutes left in the game, but the Big Green did not get any closer.

While Lehigh's lead would again be cut to nine with 49 seconds left in the game, the Mountain Hawks were perfect in six chances from the foul line from that point on to seal the game.

Earlier in the week, the Big Green gained its first win against Furman University on Tuesday at home.

The 68-63 victory was closely contested throughout, and the Big Green fought hard to finally put one in the win column.

"We came out hard, got a lead and kept attacking," Pride said. "Against Colgate, we had a six-point lead at the half but stopped attacking on offense and gave up easy buckets on defense. We were in the same position Tuesday, up 10 at the half, and we took advantage of the lead in the second half. That took a ton of pressure off of everyone and we played a lot looser and were able to win."

Barnett led the team with 24 points, posting his third 20-point game of the season. Fitzgerald and Ronnie Dixon '11 also helped the team out by scoring 14 points each.

Down by two with 40 seconds remaining, Furman could not halt the Big Green attack as Barnett charged down the court for a lay-up to extend the lead to four. A rebound by sophomore Clive Weeden '10 with six seconds left in the game sealed the game for the Big Green.

Men's basketball will travel to Burlington, Vt., on Tuesday, Dec. 2 to play the University of Vermont.

"Vermont is one of our biggest rivalry games," Pride said. "We dislike them, they dislike us. We beat them at home last year and understand that this is a revenge game for them. Knowing that, we can just throw out the records up to this point and know that this game is going to be a war."