Posted: January 5, 2010
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Freshman C.J. McCollum sank 12-of-18 shots, including seven three-pointers as he scored 31 points to help lead Lehigh to a 75-69 victory over Yale on Tuesday evening at Stabler Arena. Senior Zahir Carrington added a season-best 16 points, while classmate Marquis Hall dished out a career-high 11 assists as the Mountain Hawks (9-6) win their fifth straight and now turn their attention to Patriot League play. The Bulldogs, who fall to 4-11 following the loss, placed three players in double figures led by Greg Mangano who scored 16 points.
Bolstered by a 56% shooting performance in the second half Lehigh wound up shooting 48% from the floor and 44% from three-point range. Joining McCollum and Carrington in double digits was freshman Gabe Knutson who scored 13 points and also grabbed five rebounds. Carrington totaled seven boards while senior Dave Buchberger pulled down five. In addition to his career-high in points McCollum also handed out five assists and recorded two steals.
Michael Sands scored 15 points and Austin Morgan added 14 for the visitors who finished up shooting 40% from the field. The Bulldogs grabbed 47 rebounds on the night led by Mangano’s 14, while Sands added seven. Porter Braswell led the team with three assists and Mangano blocked a team-high three shots.
McCollum commented on his outstanding night. “The first shot I took felt pretty good from the top of the key; I thought I had it going. When I hit a step-back jumper I really knew I had it going on. I try to work on all parts of my game so that I am not just a jump shooter. I have to give credit to my teammates for getting me the ball in good spots and for setting solid screens; we had everything clicking tonight.”
Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed added his thoughts. “There was a timeout after he (C.J.) had made a few shots in a row and I wanted to let all five of our guys know that C.J. had a hot hand and we wanted to ride him for awhile. I also wanted C.J. to take good shots and get the ball in good spots which he was able to do.” He continued, “What C.J. was able to accomplish tonight was extraordinary. He did a great job of using screens from his teammates and getting to open spots on the floor. The other players on the floor then got him the ball when he was open and he did the rest.”
A lay-up by Knutson gave Lehigh a 9-6 lead with 16:04 on the clock, while Buchberger’s three-pointer at the 14:50 mark put the Mountain Hawks up 12-8. Carrington hit a jumper in the paint a minute later and Lehigh was ahead by six, while a McCollum lay-up made the score 18-10 in favor of the home team. Yale stormed back with seven straight but Rob Keefer hit a pretty pull-up jumper along the baseline to give Lehigh a 20-17 advantage.
The teams went back and forth for the next several minutes trading the lead on two occasions before Yale opened a four-point lead when Jordan Gibson got inside for a basket at the 4:45 mark. Five straight by the Mountain Hawks capped by a McCollum three put Lehigh back on top though at 30-29. Yale scored the game’s next four points and took a 33-30 lead before Carrington hit a jumper with 43 seconds remaining to send the teams into halftime with Yale clinging to a one-point lead.
Carrington (11) and McCollum (10) both hit for double figures in the opening half as Lehigh shot 41% from the floor as a team. Carrington, who hit five-of-eight shots, also grabbed three rebounds, one behind Buchberger for team-leading honors. Hall dished out four assists, while McCollum totaled three as the Mountain Hawks registered ten assists on 14 field goals.
Yale was led in scoring by Morgan and Sands with ten points apiece as the Bulldogs shot 45% from the field and out-rebounded the Brown and White 22-19. Raffi Mantilla and Michael Grace led the visitors with two assists apiece and Sands pulled down a team-leading five boards. Yale committed eight turnovers in the half, while Lehigh turned it over only five times.
The opening minutes of the second half were close with a Sands lay-up tying the game at 39 with 16:38 left to play. A gorgeous one-handed bounce pass on the fast break from Hall to Knutson led to a slam and a 43-41 advantage for the Mountain Hawks. McCollum hit a jumper on Lehigh’s next possession as the Mountain Hawks opened a four-point lead and the Ohio native added 11 more points to give Lehigh a 56-46 advantage with 10:36 remaining.
Another basket by McCollum, this one coming with 7:12 to go again gave Lehigh a double-digit lead, while the first year standout’s three at the 3:35 mark gave the home team its largest lead of the evening, 71-59. The closest Yale would get the rest of the way was six when Braswell hit a pair with five ticks to go, but Lehigh inbounded the ball and ran the clock out.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks Basketball Post-Game Extra
Lehigh returns to the court on Saturday evening when the Mountain Hawks play host to the two-time defending Patriot League champion American Eagles at Stabler Arena in the 2010 league opener. Tip-off is set for 7:05 and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com or at the arena box office prior to tip-off.