Posted: February 13, 2010
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – C.J. McCollum became the first freshman in Lehigh history to score 25 or more points in five games as he netted a season-high 33 points to lift the Mountain Hawks to a 78-66 victory over Army on Saturday evening at Stabler Arena. With the win Lehigh eclipses its win total from last season and moves to 16-9 overall and the Mountain Hawks sit alone in first place in the Patriot League with a 7-3 mark. Senior captain Marquis Hall added 14 points and eight assists in what was Lehigh’s eighth straight regular season victory over the Black Knights at Stabler Arena. With the loss Army falls to 13-11 overall and 3-7 in the league.
Lehigh head coach Brett Reed commented on McCollum’s play following the game. “C.J. is a special player for us who is playing with a lot of confidence right now. It’s been nice for him to come in with his type of ability and supplement what our seniors can do. If you look at Marquis Hall, he isn’t naturally inclined to score a lot of points so he’s been able to do what he does best and that is run our offense and distribute the basketball. Zahir Carrington is the one who gets our team fired up and is our emotional leader, so they can all play off one another with what they bring to our team.”
Lehigh wound up shooting 53% for the game while holding Army to 40%. The Mountain Hawks grabbed 35 rebounds led by McCollum and senior Zahir Carrington with seven apiece, while senior Dave Buchberger handed out four of Lehigh’s 16 assists. Junior Michael Ojo had a solid game for Lehigh off the bench, scoring 11 points and grabbing three rebounds in 27 minutes. The Brown and White forced the Black Knights into 17 turnovers and scored 19 points off of those miscues and Lehigh also sank 9-of-19 three-pointers, good for 47%.
“Michael Ojo relaxed and really played his game out there tonight,” Reed commented. “He didn’t think too much and he showed what he can do. He has the ability to score, he’s a good athlete and he can be a solid defender and I think we saw all of that on display this evening.”
Jeremy Hence came off the bench to lead Army with 14 points, while Julian Simmons added 13 and Cleveland Richard scored 11. Mitch McDonald was the team leader in assists with six while Chris Walker led the visitors on the glass with six caroms. The Black Knights outscored Lehigh 24-20 in the paint and made 12-of-16 attempts at the foul line (75%).
Bolstered by a 58% shooting performance Lehigh jumped out to a 45-27 halftime lead. The Mountain Hawks held the Black Knights without a field goal for the first 4:29 and led 14-3 just six minutes into the game. Hall’s jumper at the 13 minute mark gave the Brown and White a 13-point lead at 18-5, while Ojo’s lay-up two minutes later put the home team in front by 14. With 9:19 to go Hall drove the lane, drew two defenders and threw a no-look pass to Carrington who threw down an emphatic two-hand dunk to give the Mountain Hawks a 19-point bulge.
Another Carrington slam, this one coming over two Army players with 4:07 left before halftime gave Lehigh its largest lead of the half at 37-17. McCollum’s three-pointer with just over two minutes to play again gave Lehigh a 20-point advantage, while Rob Keefer’s baseline jumper with 1:11 on the clock opened up a 22-point lead. Army scored the final three points of the half though to make it a 45-27 game at intermission.
McCollum sank four three-pointers and led the Brown and White with 14 first half points, while Knutson and Hall added eight and Ojo scored seven. The Mountain Hawks sank six-of-twelve three-point attempts and pulled down 17 rebounds as a team led by Carrington’s five. Hall dished out six first half helpers and Lehigh committed only five turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Mountain Hawks dominated the Black Knights in nearly every statistical category outscoring the visitors 14-6 in the paint and 16-5 in points off turnovers.
Army was led in scoring by Simmons, Jason Pancoe and Sizemore with five points apiece as the Black Knights struggled from the floor, shooting only 37%. Miller led the visitors with four rebounds and two assists, but Army turned the ball over ten times and had no answer for Lehigh’s torrid shooting.
The Black Knights made things interesting in the second half, closing to within 13 on Ella Ellis’ lay-up with 14:51 to play. However, each time Army closed in on Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks had an answer as a Holden Greiner jumper pushed their lead back to 18 with 13:49 on the clock. Lehigh led by 19 following an Ojo jumper at the 10:04 mark but Army refused to go away and got within 13 on a three from Hence four minutes later. A Richard trifecta, this one coming with 4:50 on the clock, got the Black Knights within 12, while a Hence jumper with a minute to go made it a ten-point contest. McCollum sank all four of his free throw attempts from that point on however, and the Mountain Hawks defense tightened up to hold on for their tenth home victory of the season.
Reed spoke of Army closing in on Lehigh down the stretch. “We had a few turnovers and weren’t able to get key stops and our lead began to dwindle away,” he explained. “Ultimately we did get those timely stops and made enough of our foul shots to hold on and get the win.”
Lehigh - Army Post-Game Show
Lehigh hits the road for its next two games as the Mountain Hawks travel to Hamilton, New York on Wednesday evening to face the Colgate Raiders. 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 Matt Kerr providing the commentary. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 6:30.
Photography (c) Specialty Photographic, 2010