Princeton Men’s Basketball Falls to Lehigh 72-57
The Princeton Tigers Men’s Basketball Team fell short on the road against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks by a final score of 72-57 on Friday night in Bethlehem at Stabler Arena.
The contest began much slower than it did for the Tigers against DeSales last week when their offense got off to a flying start, looking like they were not capable of missing. Princeton appeared to be a completely different team, committing turnovers and missing on open looks from deep– something unexpected for a Mitch Henderson coached Princeton team.
The Tigers looked to be in desperate need of their sharp-shooting guard Devin Cannady as they struggled from the field shooting just 28.3% and a dismal 12.5% from three point land. The senior who led the Tigers in scoring with 16.7 points per game last season, sat out once again to begin the season, leaving ball handling duties to sophomore Ryan Schwieger, who struggled to produce while guarded by Lehigh’s Lance Tejada.
Schwieger committed three turnovers and finished the game shooting just three for nine, including no makes on four attempts from beyond the arc.
Luckily for Princeton, the Mountain Hawks came out of the gates just as slowly, allowing the Tigers to stick around through to the first half buzzer. Lehigh shot only 11-39 as a team in the first period of play, narrowly escaping with a 28-26 lead heading into the locker room.
This game proved to be a tale of two halves for Lehigh, however, as they crushed whatever momentum Princeton was carrying with them following the break. The Mountain Hawks opened the second half on a massive, momentum shifting 21-4 run on the back of three consecutive three point field goals.
Lehigh cashed in on their open looks at the basket, setting themselves up through indomitable ball movement. Princeton’s big men struggled to matchup against Lehigh’s six-foot-eleven freshman center Nic Lynch. Lynch was a problem all night as he was able to body his way into the post for easy buckets or distribute the ball back out to the wings, allowing his shooters Lance Tejada and Pat Andree to connect on easy spot-up threes.
Tejada and Andree combined for 5-11 shooting on threes as well as 15 and 12 points, respectively. Tejada was a handful for Princeton’s defenders all night, getting to good spots under the basket and allowing his team to space the floor and distributing the basketball with five assists of his own.
Princeton’s offense finally got going deep into the second half of the contest after the game was all but won by the hosts.
Down by 20 with 9:29 remaining on the clock, senior guard Myles Stephens began to take matters into his own hands and attempt to mount a comeback. Stephens singlehandedly carved into Lehigh’s lead despite an overall poor night shooting by the Lawrenceville native’s standards. He had a game high 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds as he brought Princeton to within nine with 2:46 to play.
Lehigh was able to ice the game in the final minutes by being able to maneuver past Princeton’s full-court press and watch valuable seconds tick off of the scoreboard, much to the delight of the 1,200 fans and students still on campus before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Live by the three, die by the three
Like many teams across the NCAA, Princeton’s bread and butter on offense has always been the three ball since Mitch Henderson took charge of the program some eight years ago. The Tigers have mostly enjoyed great success on shots from distance but this season has looked different for them without Devin Cannady in the lineup. They shot just 4-32 from deep on Friday night and the return of their best shooter can’t come quickly enough.
Taking advantage of turnovers
Princeton won the turnover battle with Lehigh by a margin of +2, but were outscored by the Mountain Hawks 12-6 on points off turnovers. Lehigh was able to limit Princeton in transition, not allowing easy fast breaks following turnovers in possession.
Has it become obvious that Cannady is missing? Friday night’s result was partially a consequence of a bit of luck going against them in terms of shooting. They got the looks they needed but just could not convert. Cannady’s presence makes this team less one dimensional and he offers the ability to shoot his team out of tricky games.
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