Posted: February 17, 2010
HAMILTON, N.Y. – Lehigh maintained its hold of first place in the Patriot League with a 91-81 victory over Colgate on Wednesday evening at Cotterell Court. Four Mountain Hawks scored in double figures, led by junior Michael Ojo’s career-high 22 points, while freshman C.J. McCollum also scored 22, senior Marquis Hall added 13 and classmate Zahir Carrington notched a double-double with a season best 14 rebounds to go along with 12 points. Lehigh, which overcame a nine-point halftime deficit, improves to 17-9 overall and 8-3 in the Patriot League. Colgate received 21 points from Kyle Roemer and drops to 8-17 overall and 4-7 in the league following the setback.
“It was unfortunate to fall behind like we did tonight,” Lehigh head coach Brett Reed explained afterwards. “Colgate played very well during the first half, they played very solid basketball. I was disappointed that we could not get some stops in that first half, but we knew at halftime that our defense would play a large part in the outcome, and in the second half we showed what type of defensive team we can be.”
He continued, “Michael Ojo scored the basketball very effectively tonight. He gave us a huge spark tonight and I was glad that he stepped up and made all of the free throws that he did down the stretch.”
Lehigh shot over 50% for the second consecutive game as the Mountain Hawks connected on 51.7% from the floor, including a staggering 65% showing in the second half. In that second half the Brown and White sank six-of-nine three-point attempts and 17-of-26 shots overall. Lehigh continues to do a nice job on the glass, as the Mountain Hawks pulled down 37 boards to Colgate’s 28. McCollum led Lehigh with three assists, while sophomore John Adams came off the bench to score six points and he also pulled down two rebounds.
Reed spoke of Lehigh’s pinpoint three-point shooting in the final 20 minutes. “That was a tremendous shooting performance by our team. We were unselfish with the basketball, we had much better player movement and it all started with our defense. We raised the intensity on that end of the floor which really changed the tempo and allowed us to score some easy baskets.”
Colgate shot 52.5% for the game, including 54% in the first half, but Lehigh’s defense held the Raiders to 32 second half points and the Mountain Hawks also forced 16 Colgate turnovers. Joining Roemer in double digits were Yaw Gyawu and Ben Jonson with 13 apiece and Mitch Rolls with ten. Nick Pascale led the Raiders with seven rebounds, while Rolls handed out a game-high seven helpers. Colgate handed out 19 assists on 31 field goals but the Mountain Hawks shot 13 more free throws than their counterpart to assure themselves of their first winning Patriot League season since 2006.
The Raiders opened up an 18-12 lead on a three-point play by Brandon James with 12:34 on the first half clock, but Lehigh pulled to within a basket on McCollum’s lay-up one minute later. Gyawu’s bucket with 9:26 on the clock put the home team in front 26-19 a jumper and free throw from freshman Gabe Knutson made it a 26-24 game with under eight to play. Two Carrington free throws with 5:32 on the clock again made it a two-point game, but Joe Hoban’s three-pointer two-and-a-half minutes later gave the Raiders their biggest lead up to that point, 42-35. Three-pointers from Roemer and Hoban put Lehigh in a 10-point hole and the Raiders eventually took a 49-40 lead into the locker room.
Roemer was the game’s leading scorer with ten points in the half as Colgate shot over 54% from the floor. Jonson scored nine points and James added eight for the home team, while Carrington, Knutson and McCollum all scored eight points for the Brown and White. Lehigh shot 41% from the floor and only 25% from downtown but led by Carrington’s seven boards the Mountain Hawks held a 21-15 advantage in rebounding. McCollum dished out two assists, while Rolls handed out five and the teams combined for 15 turnovers, with Lehigh committing eight and Colgate totaling seven.
Lehigh unleashed a 16-6 run right out of the gate to take a 56-55 lead with 16:06 on the clock. The Mountain Hawks then scored five more points to surge in front 62-55 before Roemer got to the hoop for Colgate basket. Adams scored down low, got fouled and sank the ensuing free throw though, and the Brown and White was on top 65-57. McCollum’s jumper with 10:45 to play gave Lehigh a 67-58 lead while sophomore Jordan Hamilton’s three with 8:55 on the clock put the Mountain Hawks up 70-62.
Colgate stormed back and got to within one with Jonson’s basket at the 7:22 mark, while Roemer’s lay-up with 6:29 left gave the lead to the Raiders for the first time since early in the half. Lehigh responded with seven of the next points to go on top 78-73 but Jonson answered with a jumper down the other end with 3:09 to go. An Adams lay-up and a missed shot by Colgate were followed by two free throws from Hall which put the Mountain Hawks in front by nine with only 35 ticks left. The Mountain Hawks made five more free throws in the final seconds and came away with their seventh road win of the season.
Lehigh wraps up its regular season road schedule on Sunday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks travel to Easton to take on their archrivals, the Lafayette Leopards. Tip-off from Kirby Sports Center is set for 2:00 and all of the action will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1230 and1320 as well as Lehighsports.com. The game will also be televised on CBS College Sports.
“Hopefully we can get healthy between now and then,” Reed said. “Zahir was under the weather tonight, but we’ve got to ride this momentum into what is going to be a very emotional game in a tough environment.”
Mountain Hawks Basketball Post-Game Extra