BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh men's basketball team used a 30-6 first-half run to turn a 31-12 deficit into a 42-37 lead, but Yale responded and went on to close the game on an 11-2 run to beat the Mountain Hawks (4-5), 86-77 on Wednesday evening in Stabler Arena. Senior Kahron Ross led the charge with 19 points and five assists to pull within one of tying Lehigh's career assist record. Freshman James Karnik and sophomore Jordan Cohen ach added 14 points.
"I was disappointed with our slow start, both offensively and defensively," said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. "That's not the way in which we want to protect our home court. But I am proud of our guys for showing a great deal of fight and really storming the game, attacking the game and taking over total momentum in the first half. Give Yale credit. They had three big players - Oni, Copeland and Reynolds - who made shots and made plays for them, but nonetheless, we have to find a way to slow them down. It's hard to have a slow start and then not be able to string together stops in the second half."
Ross scored his 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting while Karnik was 5-of-7 from the field and Cohen was 4-of-8, including 4-of-5 on two pointers. Junior Kyle Leufroy and sophomore Pat Andree had nine points apiece. Karnik added a career-high three steals.
"Kahron is getting into the paint, he's using his body to get contact, going up a little bit more with some power and some strength and he's also flipping the ball up high on the backboard," said Reed. "I'm going to be looking for our upperclassmen to make sure that we become a little bit more assertive and aggressive in the beginning of games because they really help set the tone for us. Kahron helped answer the call and gave us a strong push. I'm proud of him for that. We're going to continue to ask more of him and continue to encourage him to grow."
The Yale trio of Alex Copeland (25 points), Miye Oni (21) and Blake Reynolds (17) combined for 63 of the Bulldogs' 86 points on a combined 22-of-33 shooting.
Yale came out on fire, eventually taking a 31-12 advantage with 8:25 remaining in the first half. That's when the Mountain Hawks caught fire. Two Bennett free throws ended a nearly five minute Lehigh scoring drought, Yale responded with a layup to take a 33-14 advantage, but the Mountain Hawks came back with a 28-4 run. A Leufroy three-point play pulled Lehigh within 35-30 with 3:41 remaining then a few minutes later, an Andree trey gave the Mountain Hawks their first lead at 38-37 with 1:33 left in the first. Four straight Cohen free throws gave Lehigh a 42-37 advantage, but an Oni trey in the final seconds of the stanza pulled Yale within 42-40 following 20 minutes of play.
The Mountain Hawks built their lead early in the second, scoring eight of the first 10 points as a Karnik layup gave Lehigh a 49-42 lead with 16:45 on the clock.
Yale quickly posted a 9-0 run to take a 51-49 lead, the Mountain Hawks retook a 54-53 advantage following a Cohen jumper with 11:37 on the clock. However, the Bulldogs scored 14 of the next 20 points to take a 67-60 lead with 7:33 to go in the second.
Trailing 73-67 approaching five minutes remaining, Lehigh posted a 5-0 run behind a short Ed Porter jumper and a Ross three-pointer, pulling within 73-72. A few minutes later, Ross converted a three-point play to even the score at 75 with 2:08 remaining. However, Oni hit a corner three with 1:47 on the clock to put Yale up for good. The Bulldogs would add a pair of field goals, then hit all four of its free throws in the final seconds for the 86-77 win.
For the game, Lehigh shot 43 percent from the field (26-of-60), including 32 percent from three-point range (7-of-22). Yale finished at 54 percent (30-of-56) and 36 percent from long distance (9-of-25). The Bulldogs finished with a 35-31 edge in rebounds.
Lehigh wraps up its pre-final exam schedule on Saturday when it hosts Mount St. Mary's at 2 p.m.
Game information courtesy of Lehigh Athletics.