Posted: November 23, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh placed four players in double figures, led by freshman C.J. McCollum as the Mountain Hawks evened their record at 2-2 with an 86-74 victory over Monmouth on Monday evening at Stabler Arena. Joining McCollum in double digits were Rob Keefer and Michael Ojo with 13 points apiece and Marquis Hall who added 11. As a team the Mountain Hawks turned the ball over only nine times and forced 16 MU turnovers. Travis Taylor netted a game-high 20 points for the Hawks who fall to 1-3 following the setback.
Lehigh head coach Brett Reed spoke of the tremendous balance the Mountain Hawks showed on Monday. “We did a great job of spreading the ball around tonight and getting contributions from a number of players.” He then commented on the play of Lehigh’s bench which came in averaging 37 points per game and totaled 42 on this night. “Rob Keefer has done a great job these last few games coming in and giving us instant offense. And Michael Ojo not only went six-for-six at the foul line but he did a great job of getting to free throw line. He took the ball to the basket hard and gave us a key lift when we needed it.”
Lehigh handed out 24 assists on the night led by senior Zahir Carrington’s five. In all eight Mountain Hawks registered at least one assist. “We had tremendous ball distribution tonight,” Reed explained. “Our guys were finding open teammates and setting them up in great position to score. It really puts pressure on the defense when your team is sharing the basketball the way we did tonight.”
The Mountain Hawks wound up shooting nearly 53% for the game and pulled down 32 rebounds led by freshman Gabe Knutson’s eight caroms. Carrington and Hall both totaled two steals while as a team Lehigh shot 20-of-25 at the foul line.
Monmouth hit on 44% of its shots and pulled down 35 rebounds led by Taylor’s nine while James Hett recorded three steals. The Hawks hit on only 36% from three-point range and missed ten free throws, finishing 17-of-27 at the stripe.
Both teams started slow offensively as Lehigh trailed 5-4 at the first media timeout. A three by McCollum gave the Mountain Hawks a 7-5 lead with 15:06 on the clock but Monmouth quickly re-took the lead when Will Campbell drilled a three to make the score 10-7 in favor of the Hawks. Following the second media timeout the Mountain Hawks offense came to life as Ojo sank a pair at the line, Hall drained a three and Ojo followed with a trifecta of his own to put the home team up 17-12 with 10:43 left before halftime.
A John Adams jumper gave Lehigh a six-point cushion with 8:52 on the clock while Ojo’s lay-up off a nice feed from Prentice Small again gave the Brown and White a six-point lead. Monmouth quickly cut the lead to one however before Lehigh ran off four straight points capped by a Keefer jumper. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes before freshman Holden Greiner scored his first collegiate points on a put back with 1:28 left before halftime to give LU a 32-38 lead and McCollum got into the paint for another lay-up, making the score 34-28. Following a missed lay-up by Monmouth’s Campbell Adams whipped the outlet pass to McCollum with seven ticks on the clock. The cool freshman weaved his way up court and found classmate Knutson who slammed the ball home and the Mountain Hawks took a 38-30 lead into the locker room.
Ojo led the Brown and White with nine points in the opening 20 minutes, while McCollum scored seven on three-of-six shooting. McCollum and Ojo handed out a team-high three assists each as Lehigh totaled 14 helpers on 15 first half field goals. As a team the Mountain Hawks shot 53% from the floor, including 50% from three-point range and they pulled down 15 rebounds.
Taylor hit four-of-five shots for 13 points for Monmouth and he also led the Hawks with six rebounds. Justin Sofman hit for six points as Monmouth shot 39% as a team and totaled 17 rebounds. No Hawk handed out more than one assist while as a team the Hawks turned the ball over eight times, with Taylor totaling six of those.
A lay-up by Knutson extended the Lehigh lead to 44-32 with 18:10 in the half, while junior David Safstrom got into the scoring with a nice move along the baseline which resulted in another Lehigh lay-up. The bucket was Safstrom’s first collegiate points and gave the Mountain Hawks a 46-35 lead.
Monmouth pulled to within four at the 13:44 mark when Campbell completed a three-point play but the Mountain Hawks got a three from Hal and a lay-up by Keefer to increase their lead to 56-47 with just over ten to play. The Hawks kept the game within single digits until Prentice Small got into the lane for a basket, which made it a 64-54 game. The lead swelled to 16 points when McCollum completed a three-point play of his own with 3:23 on the clock and Lehigh was never threatened again.
Lehigh - Monmouth Post-Game Extra!
Lehigh will hit the road on Wednesday evening when the Mountain Hawks head to Loretto, Pennsylvania to take on the Red Flash of St. Francis (Pa.). Tip-off 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 veteran Matt Kerr on the call. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 6:30.