Ari Rosenfeld (@realA_rosenfeld)
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Despite a double-double from star big man Tim Kempton, Lehigh fell 57-47 to Syracuse in its season opener. Kempton finished with 18 points and 12 boards, but a strong second half wasn’t enough to overcome ice-cold shooting and sloppy turnovers in the opening session.
Here’s a quick report from Lehigh’s season opening loss:
Malachi Richardson, Syracuse’s highly-touted freshman and a Trenton Catholic (N.J.) graduate, knocked down two quick threes to open the game, but Lehigh was able to hang with the Orange early on. While they weren’t necessarily getting shots to fall, the Mountain Hawks got to the line and limited Syracuse’s outside shooting. An Austin Price three-pointer with 13 minutes left in the first half gave Lehigh its first--and only-- lead of the game at 9-8.
From the time of Price’s three until the end of the first half, the Mountain Hawks were held without a field goal, visibly struggling with the length of the Orange’s signature 2-3 zone. Defense quickly turned into offense during that time, as Syracuse took advantage of 11 Lehigh turnovers in 13 minutes to close the half on a 24-3 run and, for all intents and purposes, put the game away at 32-12. A 16-2 run by Lehigh cut things to 36-30 in the second half, but back-to-back Syracuse triples immediately thereafter helped the Orange regain a comfortable lead.
Lehigh’s Austin Price was seemingly the only Mountain Hawk capable of busting the Orange zone from the outside, knocking down his team's only two triples and finishing with 12 points. Kempton’s double-double effort was certainly impressive against Syracuse’s size, as the defending Patriot League Player of the Year fought through early foul trouble in a tough effort.
For the Orange, Richardson stood out in his first collegiate action. Playing off the ball, his 6-foot-7 size and pure shooting stroke allowed him to finish with 14 points and knock down four three-pointers.
Both teams were cold from the field, with Lehigh shooting just 28 percent and Syracuse doing just better at 34 percent. The Mountain Hawks shot especially poorly in the first half, shooting just 2-for-23. Lehigh also struggled holding onto the ball, turning it over 15 times, including 12 first half giveaways.
Continuing a trend from its exhibition contests, Syracuse wasn’t shy hoisting the ball from deep. The Orange shot 34 threes for the game, making 11, and three-pointers accounted for 65 percent of their total shot attempts.
Lehigh (0-1) vs. Canisius (Nov. 16 @ Canisius)
Syracuse (1-0) vs. St. Bonaventure (1-0) (Nov. 16 @ Syracuse)