Johnson Carries Lafayette to Victory Over Lehigh
Feb. 24, 2013
Johnson equaled his career-high with 29 points on the strength of 10-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. Joining Johnson in double figures were Dan Trist with 14 and Levi Giese, who added 10. Giese also matched his career-high with eight rebounds in the win. As a team, Lafayette (15-14, 8-4 Patriot) shot 51.9 percent in the contest, including an 11-for-25 effort from beyond the arc. The victory was Lafayette's first season-sweep of Lehigh since 2005 and secured an opening round home game for the Leopards in the Patriot League Tournament on March 6.
The largest lead for either side in the first half came on a three-pointer by Mackey McKnight on Lehigh's final possession of the period, giving the Mountain Hawks (18-8, 8-4 Patriot) a 39-33 advantage at the break. McKnight and Gabe Knutson each netted 11 points in the first 20 minutes to lead Lehigh, which shot 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from the floor in the period. Johnson had 14 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting and a pair of threes to pace the Leopards offensively.
Lehigh pushed its lead to seven in the opening minutes of the second half after consecutive threes by Holden Greiner (27 points) against Lafayette's 2-3 zone. Johnson continued his stellar play offensively and pulled Lafayette within four (47-44) with his third trey of the game, four minutes in.
A lay-in by Trist pulled Lafayette within two at 49-47, but Lehigh came back with the next six points capped by an alley-oop from B.J. Bailey to Holden Greiner to give the Mountain Hawks a 55-47 lead and force Lafayette to call timeout.
Greiner's step-back jumper at the 11-minute mark handed Lehigh a 10-point cushion, but Levi Giese connected on a three on the other end and Johnson's two free throws made it 57-52 midway through the period.
Baskets by each team preceded a driving layup by Hinrichs on the left side and a backdoor cut and bucket by Johnson made Lehigh call timeout with 7:36 remaining. Out of the stoppage, the Leopards forced a turnover and Bryce Scott drained a straightaway three as Lafayette led 61-59. Bailey's triple ended Lafayette's 14-2 run and briefly awarded the lead back to Lehigh. Giese responded with another triple to put the Leopards up 64-62.
Knutson's (19 points, 8 rebounds) hook shot tied the score at 64-64 with five minutes to play before Johnson's back-back threes matched his career-high in points and put Lafayette up six with 3:34 to go. Johnson's second three came on a possession when Trist and Joey Ptasinski each knocked out offensive rebounds following misses.
On Lehigh's next trip, Giese blocked Knutson at the rim and Lafayette took over. Johnson fed Trist in traffic for two underneath and then hit him on a long outlet pass for an easy two to extend the lead to 74-64 with 1:33 to play, completing a 27-7 run that spanned 9:13.
From there, Greiner's dunk plus a foul made it a seven-point game, but Lafayette made four straight free throws and ultimately won by eight.
Lafayette returns to the hardwood on Wednesday evening when it travels to Hamilton, N.Y. to meet Colgate. Opening tip is slated for 7 p.m. and can be seen on GoLeopards.com/allaccess
The Leopards improved to 138-78 all-time against Lehigh.
Johnson's five threes set a new career high.
The win was Lafayette's third straight after trailing at halftime and the team improved to 11-3 at Kirby Sports Center.
The Leopards improved to 8-0 on the year when shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.
Johnson's four assists tied him with Andrew Brown '09 for seventh in Lafayette history with 354.