Terriers struggle to defend, fall to Lehigh, 84-79

Facing Lehigh, the best offensive team in the Patriot League, the Boston University Terriers struggled defensively, allowing 84 points on 52.9 percent shooting to fall to the Mountain Hawks, 84-79, at Case Gym on Saturday evening.

BU has now dropped four consecutive games to move down to the bottom slot of the Patriot League.

“I’m proud of the way they fought and battled,” head coach Joe Jones said. “You don’t get anything for that, but I’m still hopeful that it’s going to lead to good things down the road.”

Lehigh dictated a comfortable 74-56 lead with 5:36 left to play, when the Terriers went on a 17-4 run in the next 4:28 of play. A trailing 3-pointer from freshman guard Jonas Harper cut the lead to 78-73 with 1:08 remaining in the game.

With 25.1 seconds left on the clock, junior forward Max Mahoney tipped in a miss by redshirt freshman guard Alex Vilarino to make it a two-point game at 81-79. Sophomore guard Andrew Petcash had an open look from the left-corner but missed the 3-pointer that would have given the Terriers a one-point lead.

“That last shot, you felt good about that because you got a great look,” “We actually executed down the stretch a lot better than we did throughout the game. It’s a shame.”

Petcash led the Terriers (11-16, 4-10 Patriot League) in the early going, scoring 11 of the team’s first 16 points. That would be the last offensive burst the home team would see for a while.

Lehigh’s high-powered offense quickly took control of the momentum, as the nation’s best 3-point shooting deep bombarded the Terriers with three 3-pointers amidst a 13-0 run. Senior guard Lance Tejada’s left-corner 3-pointer completed the Mountain Hawks (17-8, 10-4 PL) run.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman guards Jonas Harper and Garrett Pascoe brought the lead down to a five-point deficit with 7:38 left in the first half. The Mountain Hawks responded with a 12-2 run that pulled the lead away and gave Lehigh a 15-point lead.

“Mentally, we were just off,” Jones said. “We tried to change defenses and we just couldn’t mentally process what we were trying to do.”

Entering halftime with a 45-32 deficit, BU matched the Mountain Hawks with seven 3-pointers, but Lehigh dominated inside, outrebounding the Terriers 24-10 and outscoring them in the paint 20-6.

“[Before] when teams would shoot 52 percent, I would freak out,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t sleep. I would crush [my team]. It would be a huge deal. Huge. And this is like the norm with our team [now].”

“… If we can’t solve that issue,” Jones said, “it’s gonna be hard for us to make a run late in the year.”

Junior forward Tyler Scanlon finished with game-high 19 points and five steals, while Mahoney contributed 17 points and eight rebounds.

Senior guard Kyle Leufroy led the way for Lehigh with 18 points.

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