Posted: January 14, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Freshman C.J. McCollum tied his career-high with 31 points but it was not enough as Lehigh saw its six-game win streak come to an end with a 94-83 loss to Navy on Thursday evening in Annapolis. McCollum sank 11-of-18 shots from the floor and six-of-eight at the line but the Midshipmen shot 87% from the free throw line and put up 58 second half points to earn the win. With the loss the Mountain Hawks fall to 10-7 overall and 1-1 in the league while Navy improves to 8-9 overall and 2-0 in the Patriot League.
“I don’t think we came out with the intensity we normally do and I think Navy wanted it a little more than we did tonight,” Lehigh captain Marquis Hall said after the game. “They were able to get to some loose balls underneath the basket and I think it was a case of them wanting it more than us. You aren’t going to win many games in this league, home or away, if you don’t bring it every single night.”
Lehigh placed four players in double figures with Gabe Knutson (16), Hall (10) and Michael Ojo (10) joining McCollum. The Mountain Hawks shot 37% from the floor and hit on 25-of-34 shots from the foul line (73%). Knutson led the Brown and White on the glass with nine boards while Hall totaled seven. Senior Dave Buchberger led Lehigh with three assists as Lehigh totaled only seven helpers on the evening. “That was not characteristic of our team,” Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed explained. “We normally have a higher assist to made field goals ratio but tonight that was not the case. Give credit to Navy. They played a very good game and had a number of players step up offensively.”
He added, “I’d like to see us get back to playing the type of defense I know we are able to and getting stops when we need them. Unfortunately tonight we weren’t able to come up with those big stops and it cost us.”
Chris Harris, the Patriot League’s leading scorer, hit all 14 of his free throws en route to a team-best 29 points for Navy, while Jeremy Wilson (14), Greg Brown (14) and O.J. Avworo (12) joined him in double figures. Jordan Sugars was held in check offensively with only four points, but he led the Midshipmen with eight rebounds, while Avworo handed out five assists, along with Romeo Garcia. Navy shot 48% from the floor and forced the Mountain Hawks into 14 turnovers.
The first half was tightly contested with neither team able to open up more than a six-point advantage. After the Mountain Hawks took an early lead Navy regrouped and took a 36-33 advantage into the locker room to close out a first half that saw six lead changes and one tie. McCollum led Lehigh in the half with 14 points, which came on six-of-eight shooting, while Hall added eight points. As a team the Mountain Hawks shot just 37% from the floor and from three-point range and they handed out only two assists. Senior Zahir Carrington and Hall led the Brown and White with three rebounds apiece and overall Lehigh sank six-of-eight free throws.
Navy, which outscored Lehigh 20-6 in the paint, was led in the opening 20 minutes by Harris who scored 11 points with Veazey contributing six. The Midshipmen out-rebounded Lehigh 22 to 18 with Greg Brown leading the charge with five boards and Sugars pulling down three. The home team shot 41% from the floor but sank only one-of-nine from beyond the arc (11%) and they turned the ball over eight times.
A Carrington bucket and Knutson lay-up early in the second brought Lehigh within a point at 38-37, but Avworo got inside for a basket to put Navy in front by three. With 14:37 on the clock Hall sank a three and Lehigh was again within a point at 47-46. Avworo hit a three of his own at the 13:48 mark which put Lehigh in a four-point hole, while T.J. Topercer’s three with 13:10 to go put the Midshipmen up 55-50.
Navy opened up a nine-point lead with 8:32 to go when Brown sank one of his two three-pointers but Lehigh chipped away and was down only four after McCollum drilled a three at the 6:16 mark. Two free throws by Knutson a minute later again brought Lehigh within four, while a Rob Keefer lay-up with 4:14 to go once again made it a four-point game, this time 74-70. Two straight scores from the home team put Navy ahead by nine with a little over three minutes to play and from there Lehigh tried to lengthen the game by fouling, but the Midshipmen sank 15-of-18 at the charity stripe in the closing minutes to hang on for their second straight league victory.
Lehigh - Navy Post-Game Extra
Lehigh will return to action on Sunday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks complete their two-game road swing with a trip to West Point, New York to take on the Army Black Knights at Christl Arena. Tip-off is set for 2:00 and all of the action will be broadcast on 91.3 WLVR as well as Lehighsports.com with Matt Kerr and Jeff Tourial on the call. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 1:45.