BETHLEHEM, Pa. — It was not the finale the Quakers were hoping for as the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament drew to a close.
In the final game of the consolation round, Penn dropped its fifth straight contest of the season, falling to Lehigh, 73-66.
Despite hanging with the Mountain Hawks (4-2) in the first half — Penn was down just one heading into the locker room — the Quakers (1-5) had trouble keeping up with them early in the second as Lehigh went on a 19-8 run.
Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum racked up 21 points on 8-for-19 shooting from the field. He was one of four Mountain Hawks to reach double-digits. Gabe Knutson, who fouled out late in the game, was second on his team with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
“In the beginnings of second halves — that’s when teams go on runs, and we haven’t really been able to answer them yet,” said Penn junior forward Fran Dougherty, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
Though the Red and Blue outrebounded Lehigh, 39-31, and 14-6 on offensive boards, they had just seven second-chance points to the Mountain Hawks’ six.
“I applaud the fact that we did win the offensive rebounding battle,” coach Jerome Allen said, though he added the Quakers need to work on “taking care of the ball and closing out possessions.”
Fouls also played a key role. The Mountain Hawks went to the line 27 times, converting on 21, while the Quakers went 13-for-18 from the charity stripe.
Dougherty fouled out late and sophomore forward Henry Brooks had trouble staying on the floor, with four personals in 12 minutes of play.
The Quakers also turned the ball over nine times in the second frame, three of them coming from Dougherty.
“We have a responsibility to just guard the basketball, whoever has it,” Allen said. “To [Lehigh’s] credit, some guys stood up and made some shots. In general, we have to go and get better.”
Just as in recent games, the Quakers rallied as the clocked winded down — Hicks and Dau Jok both knocked down three-pointers — but Lehigh had already built up a strong enough cushion at that point.
For the fifth straight game, Dougherty led the way in scoring for the Quakers, shooting 6-for-11 from the field. He also pulled down 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
No other Penn player reached double-digits in the scoring column, but 36 of the Quakers’ points came from the bench.
Penn resumes play against Binghamton on Wednesday night at the Palestra.