Posted: November 16, 2009
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – Lehigh fell behind Rider by 16 points in the opening five minutes of its game on Monday evening but the Mountain Hawks regrouped and pulled to within five points before bowing to the Broncs 86-71 at Alumni Gym. With the loss Lehigh falls to 0-2 while Rider ups its record to 2-0. Junior Michael Ojo led the Brown and White with 14 points, including three three-pointers, as Lehigh received 49 points from its bench but the Mountain Hawks were not able to overcome a 19-3 start by the Broncs. Novar Gadson led the New Jersey school with a game-high 20 points.
“Rider played tremendously well in the beginning of the game,” Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed said after the game. “They have a very good team, they have size, they have guys that can handle the ball, guys who can score and they fed off of the energy in this building and got off to a strong start. I think we came out a little slow and that also contributed to our difficult start. Fortunately we were able to re-group; we got great guard play during that stretch and came back and made a game out of it.”
Lehigh shot 41% from the field on the night and sank eight three pointers led by Ojo and freshman C.J. McCollum with three each. Joining Ojo in double figures were McCollum with 13, Marquis Hall with 12 and Prentice Small with 11. Freshman Gabe Knutson was the team leader in rebounds with eight while Hall recorded a double-double, as he dished out ten assists.
Ryan Thompson (19) and Justin Robinson (15) joined Gadson in double figures as Rider shot 48% as a team and hit an incredible 16-of-29 from beyond the arc. Mike Ringgold ripped down six boards and Thompson handed out a team-best five helpers. The Broncs turned the ball over 19 times and forced the Mountain Hawks into 20 TOs.
Rider came out on fire as the Broncs raced to leads of 11-0, 19-3 and 22-7 in the first seven minutes of the game. Lehigh finally got within single digits on a jumper by sophomore John Adams with 2:11 on the first half clock but Rider answered with five of the last seven points to take a 40-29 lead into the locker room.
Hall led Lehigh with nine first half points with Ojo contributing six. The Mountain Hawks shot 37% from the floor and pulled down 18 team rebounds led by Knutson’s five. Hall totaled four of his helpers in the opening 20 minutes and as a team Lehigh turned the ball over nine times.
Gadson shot a perfect five-of-five in the half and totaled 13 points with Thompson not far behind with nine. Ringgold led the Broncs effort with five rebounds as Rider hit on 50% of its attempts and committed ten TOs.
The Rider lead swelled to 19 with 16:17 on the clock but the Mountain Hawks ripped off nine straight, including six from Small to pull to within ten at 50-40. The Broncs then scored seven in a row to go in front 57-40, but Knutson scored inside, McCollum sank a jumper and a three-pointer and Jordan Hamilton put in a lay-up as the Brown and White got the deficit down to eight.
A three by McCollum with 7:03 on the clock brought Lehigh within five but Rider went on an 11-2 run to open up a 14-point advantage and the Broncs never looked back from there.
Lehigh will hit the court again on Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks open their home schedule at Stabler Arena versus Quinnipiac in the second game of a hoops doubleheader. Tip-off is set for 7:35 and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.