Box Score (PDF)
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A stellar double-double of 17 points and 10 boards from Fran Dougherty went by the wayside on Tuesday night as Penn (1-5) closed out the NIT Season Tip-Off with a 73-66 loss to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Four Lehigh players combined for 67 of the team's 73, led by 21 from AP preseason All-American C.J. McCollum.
It's barely an exaggeration to say that the Quakers (1-5) had to start firing from the second they got off the bus. Due to traffic congestion leaving Philadelphia, the team arrived to Stabler Arena with less than half an hour until tipoff. The defending Patriot League champion and favorites to win again this year, Lehigh (3-2) took advantage of the obvious rust the Quakers were still dealing with in the opening minutes to build up a 10-2 lead before Steve Rennard settled Penn with a trey from near the top of the key. After a Lehigh miss, the Quakers pulled the ball out of a scrum and pushed the ball upcourt on the break where Rennard found Fran Dougherty who rolled in a hook shot to cut the lead back to 10-7 at the first media timeout.
Back-to-back threes from C.J. McCollum and Mackey McKnight staked the Mountain Hawks to a 16-9 lead before the Penn bench responded to turn the tide. Henry Brooks started the surge with a pair of buckets, and he was followed with a long two from Tony Hicks that cut the Lehigh edge down to 17-15. Solid defense from Miles Cartwright on McCollum forced a miss near the rim from the preseason AP All-American and Hicks then tied the contest on the other end with a fearless drive into the lane among the trees. After Lehigh momentarily went ahead, Patrick Lucas-Perry answered with a three to give Penn its first lead, 20-19, with 10:18 left in the half.
The Quakers grew their lead to three after Cartwright emerged from a pile-up and finished at the rim, but Lehigh came back with buckets from Corey Schaefer and McKnight to go back on top, 23-22. The freshmen class continued to contribute for the Quakers in the opening 20 minutes as Greg Louis and Jamal Lewis combined for five straight to send Penn into the under-eight stoppage of play with a 27-23 edge.
Defense became the story for the remainder of the half as both teams buckled down. Penn went scoreless for nearly four minutes before Darien Nelson-Henry took a dish from Dougherty and laid it in to tie things up once again, 29-29. Nearly three minutes later, Dougherty pushed Penn in front once again with a bucket in the paint, but Anthony D'Orazio responded with his only bucket of the night to give Lehigh the one-point lead at halftime, 32-31.
Penn went ahead again on the opening possession of the second half as Dougherty sealed off his man and took a feed from Rennard, slamming it home for the 33-32 lead. He'd add a bucket a couple minutes later, creating space in the lane for Louis to find him for another easy two, cutting the Lehigh lead to 38-37. That would prove to be as close as the Quakers would get the rest of the way. The Mountain Hawks mechanically expanded their lead with a 13-4 run, punctuated by a McKnight three that gave Lehigh a double-digit lead for the first time at 51-41 with 13:27 to play.
Penn's last gasp came as the game neared the under-eight minute media timeout. Three free throws and buckets from Brooks and Hicks allowed the Red and Blue to pull within six, 58-52, with 7:10 to play. However Lehigh promptly shot back with a 7-0 spurt of its own to take its largest lead of the game, 65-52, with 3:48 remaining. Late threes from Dau Jok and Hicks closed Penn within seven once again, but the Mountain Hawks connected on 18-23 free throws in the second half to close it out.
Besides Dougherty's 17, no other Penn player reached double-figures. Hicks came off the pine to score nine, while Brooks added eight on 4-5 from the floor.
As per usual, McCollum led Lehigh's offensive output, but he had plenty of help. Gabe Knutson produced 18 points and 10 boards, while McKnight added 15 and Holden Greiner had 13.
After playing its sixth game in 11 days to open the season, Penn will be thankful for a break. The Quakers return to action on Nov. 28 when they meet Binghamton in a 7 p.m. contest at The Palestra.
Game Notes: Penn fell to 22-5 all-time against Lehigh, and 160-51 against programs that currently compete in the Patriot League ... This was Penn's first true "road" game of 2012-13; the previous three games away from The Palestra were neutral-site affairs ... Penn wore its blue uniforms for the first time this season ... For the second time this season, Penn outrebounded its opponent (39-31) ... For the first time this season, Penn got more points from its bench (36) than from its starters (30) ... Penn's bench outscored Lehigh's bench, 36-3 ... Ten of the 11 players who got into the game for Penn scored ... Junior forward Fran Dougherty recorded his third double-double in the last four games with 17 points and 10 rebounds ... Dougherty has scored in double figures in five straight games (22.0 ppg during the stretch); he entered the season with three such games for his career ... Dougherty has led Penn in rebounding in all six games this season ... Junior guard Miles Cartwright had six points but went 4-of-5 from the foul line; he is 12-of-14 from the charity stripe in the last two games, 21-of-23 in the last three, and 26-of-29 in the last four ... Cartwright also set a season high with six rebounds ... Junior guard Dau Jok set a season/career high with six points, one night after doing the same with six rebounds ... Junior forward Cameron Gunter made his first start of the year, and second as a collegian ... Sophomore forward Henry Brooks set a season high with eight points ... Freshman guard Tony Hicks set season/career highs in assists (4) and minutes (27).