Posted: November 13, 2009
RICHMOND, Va. – Lehigh hung with a tough Richmond squad for nearly 39 minutes in its season opener on Friday evening but in the end the Spiders outlasted the Mountain Hawks 65-53 at the Robins Center. Senior captain Marquis Hall led the Brown and White with 14 points, while freshman C.J. McCollum hit for 12 points in his Lehigh debut. Richmond placed four players in double figures led by Kevin Anderson with 16 tallies.
“We knew coming in that this would be a tough matchup and it certainly turned out to be that way,” Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed commented afterwards. “Richmond has some big, physical players and so we were giving away inches and pounds in a few of our individual matchups, but Richmond is also a very effective offensive team. They move the ball quite a bit and there is a lot of cutting action which puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”
Reed then commented on the play of McCollum. “C.J. is a talented offensive player with some skills. This was a tough game for him to begin his college career but he had his moments tonight. He’ll learn from the experience and continue to improve.”
Lehigh shot just 34% for the game and committed 26 turnovers. The Mountain Hawks did out rebound the Atlantic-10 school though, grabbing 40 caroms to Richmond’s 36. Hall and classmate Zahir Carrington led the Mountain Hawks with seven rebounds apiece with Hall also adding six assists. Lehigh sank seven three-pointers in the game and hit on 10-of-13 from the free throw line.
The Spiders were not much better from the field than Lehigh, hitting on 38% of their shots, and only 2-of-16 from beyond the arc. Joining Anderson in double figures were Justin Harper (14) and Dan Geriot and David Gonzalvez with 11 apiece. Harper led the home team in boards with seven and Geriot and Gonzalvez totaled two assists each.
Hall started the game with a pair of three-pointers to give Lehigh an early 6-0 lead while Harper sank two free throws to give Richmond its first points of the young season one minute later. A three by Buchberger pushed the Mountain Hawks lead to 9-2 with 16:28 remaining in the half, while another trifecta, this one from McCollum gave the Brown and White a 15-6 advantage at the 12:08 mark.
The Spiders pulled to within 15-13 on a lay-up by Geriot, a three from Ryan Butler and a fast break score by Anderson, but from there both teams went cold, and did not score for the next three minutes. Gonzalvez broke the scoreless streak though and tied things up at 15 with a lay-up, and Greg Robbins gave the home team its first lead of the night with 4:37 left before halftime on yet another Spider lay-up.
A three-point play by Rob Keefer lifted the Mountain Hawks back in front 18-17 and buckets by Michael Ojo and Hall gave Lehigh a 22-17 advantage with only 3:13 left in the half. Richmond got back to within a single point less than two minutes later, but sophomore Jordan Hamilton nailed a three with 1:20 on the clock, which proved to be Lehigh’s final points of the half and it gave the Mountain Hawks a 25-21 lead. The Spiders scored the next four points though, including two free throws by Butler and that sent the teams into halftime knotted at 25.
Hall led the Mountain Hawks with eight first half points, while McCollum added four. Carrington, who struggled from the floor in the first 20 minutes, pulled down a team-best six boards with Hall and Buchberger totaling five apiece. As a team Lehigh shot just 26% from the floor but did sink 5-of-11 three-pointers and scored ten points off of turnovers.
Richmond was led in scoring by Butler with five tallies while three other Spiders netted four points in the half. UR shot 33% from the floor, including a one-of-nine showing from three-point range with Geriot and Darius Garrett leading the Spiders with four boards each.
Richmond took the first lead of the second half on two free throws by Geriot and the Spiders’ big man followed that with a jumper to make the score 29-25. A Carrington dunk and Keefer jumper were sandwiched between a Butler basket and following a lay-up from Hall, the game was tied yet again, this time at 31.
Neither team was able to open up much of a lead until Hamilton sank two at the foul line giving the Mountain Hawks a 41-37 advantage with 12:59 on the clock. Richmond came right back though and tied things up at 41 with 11:29 to go, and the Spiders followed with six straight free throws to open up a 47-41 lead. McCollum cut that lead in half with a three, and one minute later the freshman added two at the stripe to keep the Mountain Hawks deficit at three.
With 5:23 on the clock Richmond opened up a seven-point bulge and the lead increased to nine with 2:21 on the clock. Lehigh was forced to foul down the stretch as Richmond sank three more free throws in the final minutes to provide the final margin.
Lehigh returns to the court on Monday as the Mountain Hawks play another road contest, this time at Rider. Tip-off from Lawrenceville, New Jersey is set for 7:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as Lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr calling the action. Pre-game coverage will get underway beginning at 6:30.
Lehigh - Richmond Post-Game Extra