The Tigers’ Division I debut at Lehigh can best be described as forgettable. The Mountain Hawks, surely one of the Patriot League’s elite squads, soundly thrashed Princeton Friday, 72-57.
Last season, at Jadwin Gym, Lehigh raced out to a 22-point lead at the end of what some believe to be the worst half of basketball in the Mitch Henderson era. Princeton came back to make a game of it but could not get over the hurdle the team made for itself.
This year, the scenarios were reversed. Despite woeful shooting (7-for-25, 1-for-12 from beyond the arc) the Tigers displayed tremendous defensive energy, holding Lehigh to 28 first-half points. The Hawks held a very manageable two-point margin at the break, 28-26.
Disaster struck in the first four minutes of the second period when Lehigh went on a 16-3 tear to lead, 44-29. Realizing the Tigers probably could not hit the lake from a rowboat, Lehigh coach Brett Reed deployed his team in a zone, daring the Tigers to make threes. Reed was right. The Tigers shot 4-for-32 from deep.
Sans Devin Cannady and Jaelin Llewellyn for the second consecutive game, Henderson ultimately gave 12 players minutes. Myles Stephens was his usual reliable self, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. A bright spot for the Tigers was the play of Richmond Aririguzoh, the late-blooming 6’10” post player. He was 3-for-5 from the field, 5-for-6 from the line, adding five rebounds and three blocked shots in 23 minutes. If he comes close to his potential, he will be a huge and necessary contributor at both ends.
Even an average night from beyond the arc makes this a close game. Twelve percent does not.
For Lehigh freshman center Nic Lynch was one of five Hawks in double figures. Lynch canned 16 points and corralled 10 rebounds in 30 minutes. He may be the next Tim Kempton: high praise indeed.
Sour Grapes Dept.: The NCAA has made “hooking” a point of emphasis this season for officials, imposing the Flagrant One sanction. Jeff Janousek’s crew failed to detect this violation even once. Princeton’s video of the game, reviewed by IHO Saturday morning, revealed no fewer than four instances of obvious hooking by Lehigh players, most notably the aforementioned Lynch. Just saying …
The Tigers have enjoyed success in recent years on Thanksgiving Eve. Hope that trend continues this week. May you all have a most Happy Thanksgiving.