As was the case last year with the 800 Games Project, one of the trips that I wanted to make was to Lehigh University. The prospect of the Mountain Hawks hosting a game against rival Lafayette made the game even more exciting, as did their win in their previous game at Bucknell, giving them sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. The game was hyped by the Lehigh Athletic Department, and I figured it would be a great game to attend.
Game #9-381: Lafayette Leopards at Lehigh Mountain HawksJanuary 27, 2013 12:00 pm
People seemed to respond to the marketing done by the Athletic Department, as the attendance was 3,279. Plenty of students were there too, and they all got there early, which made for a pretty good atmosphere. I arrived about a half-hour before tip, and the Lehigh student section was keeping count of the Lafayette misses, shouting each number and cheering when they reached certain milestones (it got as high as 450.) Shortly after sitting down, a student walked around handing out little slips of paper. "At the request of the team, we ask that everyone stand in silence until we score our sixth point, then go nuts." I was a little pessimistic about how this would work, but decided to save my judgment until after it happened.
I have to say, it worked pretty well. After the tip, everyone stood, and for the most part, stayed quiet, with the exception of the Lafayette fans. A couple of chants of "DE-FENCE" started from the student section, before others yelled at them to be quiet. I was pretty impressed with how it worked. The only catch was, it took a little while for the team to score the sixth basket, to be precise, it took almost six and a half minutes, when Mackey McKnight's lay-up tied the game at six, and everyone went crazy, per the instructions.
Sadly, this was as excited as anyone from Lehigh would get for the rest of the game. There was plenty of silence from the home crowed throughout the game. From the point on, Lafayette led, and Lehigh was never really in the game. They were about as cold from the field as the weather was outside (22 degrees at Noon). Lafayette took an eight-point lead into the half, and from there, things got worse. The Leopards shot 70% from the field in the second half, and the lead blossomed to as high as 25. The majority of the fans in Stabler Arena were stunned, myself included. I knew that it was a rivalry game, and you can throw the records out the window, but I also knew the Mountain Hawks better than this, particularly against a team that entered the contest with a 1-10 road record. The final was a 21-point difference, 78-57. Disappointing for everyone in the building, sans the Lafayette fans. The good news is that in past years, the Mountain Hawks have been able to rally behind losses, and go on significant winning streaks, and they do play Lafayette again at the Kirby Sports Center. That is something that they are going to have to do, especially to keep pace with Bucknell in the Patriot League.
LAFAYETTE 78, at LEHIGH 57
LAFAYETTE 10-12 (3-2) -- T. Johnson 5-10 2-4 13; L. Giese 6-12 0-0 17; J. Ptasinski 5-6 0-0 13; S. Hinrichs 6-10 0-1 13; B. Scott 4-8 0-1 8; D. Trist 7-10 0-2 14; Z. Rufer 0-4 0-0 0; N. Musters 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-60 2-8 78.
LEHIGH 14-5 (4-1) -- G. Knutson 5-13 2-4 12; C. Schaefer 2-5 0-0 5; B. Bailey 5-10 0-0 12; H. Greiner 3-14 1-2 9; M. McKnight 4-11 2-3 12; A. D'Orazio 1-5 0-0 3; J. Goldsborough 1-2 2-2 4; S. Cvrkalj 0-2 0-0 0; C. Baltimore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-62 7-11 57.
Three-point goals: LAF 10-26 (T. Johnson 1-3; L. Giese 5-10; J. Ptasinski 3-4; S. Hinrichs 1-3; D. Trist 0-1; Z. Rufer 0-3; B. Scott 0-2), LEH 8-22 (B. Bailey 2-3; H. Greiner 2-6; G. Knutson 0-3; A. D'orazio 1-2; M. McKnight 2-5; S. Cvrkalj 0-1; C. Schaefer 1-2); Rebounds: LAF 32 (S. Hinrichs 11), LEH 29 (G. Knutson 5); Assists: LAF 25 (B. Scott 6), LEH 14 (M. McKnight 6); Total Fouls -- LAF 10, LEH 9; Fouled Out: LAF-None; LEH-None.