Posted: March 3, 2010
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After scoring only 18 points in the first half, Lehigh’s offense got in gear and outscored Army 46-25 in the final 20 minutes as the top-seeded Mountain Hawks outlasted No. 8 Army 64-45 in the quarterfinal round of the 2010 Patriot League Tournament on Wednesday evening at Stabler Arena. With the win Lehigh snaps a four-game losing streak in the P.L. Tournament and advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2006. 2010 Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Year C.J. McCollum scored 17 of his game-high 19 points after halftime as Lehigh improves to 20-10 overall. The 20 wins are tied for the second most in school history. Army did not place any players in double digits as the Black Knights see their season come to an end at 14-15.
Army did its best to limit Lehigh’s offensive possessions throughout the game but the Mountain Hawks still managed to shoot 55% from the floor, including a 63.2% showing in the final 20 minutes. McCollum was joined in double figures by junior Michael Ojo who scored 13 points, senior Zahir Carrington who netted 12 points and senior Marquis Hall who scored ten. Hall also dished out a team-high four assists, while McCollum led the Brown and White with seven rebounds. The Mountain Hawks forced Army into 15 turnovers and outscored the Black Knights 30-20 in the paint. With Wednesday's win Lehigh is now 13-2 at Stabler Arena this season. The 13 wins are tied for the most ever at the STAR, along with the 2003-04 squad.
Mountain Hawks head coach Brett Reed spoke of Army’s plan to try and slow the game down. “Their game plan definitely worked. That’s a great coach and that’s a terrific program. We knew we had our work cut out for us tonight. We had to fight, scratch and claw our way to victory. In the second half we had to change what we were doing. That’s not necessarily the way that we play but we did what we needed to do.”
He then commented on McCollum. “He’s got shot credibility. Everyone knows they have to close out on him very quickly, but it’s a credit to him to be able to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket and also to the foul line.”
“It feels great to finally get the monkey off of our back and more importantly it feels great to advance in the postseason,” Carrington said of winning a tournament game for the first time in his career. “Army was holding us to one shot and doing a good job of letting the clock wind down. But in the second half we were able to get our offense going and hit some shots.”
Carrington spoke of Lehigh’s tough-go on the offensive end for the majority of the game. “We knew it was only a matter of time; they’re a great defensive team but they do struggle to score at times. Even though they were holding us to one shot we knew if we could start hitting shots that we’d be alright and ultimately we were able to outlast them.”
Lehigh limited Army to 40% shooting on the night, including a 2-of-14 showing from three-point range. The Mountain Hawks out-rebounded the visitors 27-20 and outscored the Black Knights 12-0 on fast breaks. Cleveland Richard led Army with nine points, while Tyrell Thompson added eight and Eric Zastoupil scored seven. Marcus Nelson led the Black Knights with five rebounds and Richard dished out a team-best five helpers.
Lehigh scored the game’s first four points in a span of two minutes but Army responded with the next four points to tie the game with 16:19 on the clock. From there the two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half, but not many points were scored as the teams struggled to find any type of offensive rhythm.
A Nelson lay-up with 12:24 to go before halftime gave the Black Knights a 9-8 lead, while Richard’s bucket with 8:38 on the clock gave the visitors a three-point advantage at 11-8. A three-pointer by Julian Simmons followed by a Chris Walker basket gave Army another four-point advantage, this one coming with 4:15 to play, but Carrington responded for Lehigh in big way. First the Philadelphia native threw down a slam dunk off a feed from Hall and next the senior captain stole an Army pass and went coast-to-coast for a finger roll, which tied things at 16 with 2:49 remaining.
Josh Miller’s jumper with 1:29 on the clock gave the visitors a two-point advantage but Carrington again answered for Lehigh as he hit sank a jumper down the other end to tie the game for the third time. Army then got the ball back for one final shot and Thompson rose up for a jumper and hit his attempt just before the buzzer sounded sending the Black Knights into halftime with a slim 20-18 lead.
Carrington scored a game-high eight points in the first half while Knutson added six as Lehigh shot 47% from the field. The Mountain Hawks were 0-for-5 from three-point range however and did not attempt a free throw. McCollum, who scored only two points, led Lehigh on the glass with four boards and Hall handed out two of the Mountain Hawks five assists. Lehigh outscored Army 18-6 in the paint but received just two points from its bench.
Thompson led the Black Knights with six points in the half as Army shot 41% from the field, but only 1-of-6 from downtown. Nelson led the visitors with five rebounds and Mitch McDonald and Cleveland Richard were the team leaders with three helpers each. The Black Knights got ten points from their bench and stole the ball from Lehigh five times.
McCollum scored Lehigh’s first six points of the second half capped by a pair of free throws at the 16:18 mark that made the score 25-24 in favor of Army. A Richard lay-up with 13:28 to play extended the Black Knight’s lead to 29-25, while Zastoupil’s old fashioned three-point play 44 seconds later put the visitors in front 32-27.
Two free throws by McCollum tied the score at 34 at the 9:20 mark, while the freshman’s basket with 8:34 to play gave the Mountain Hawks their first lead of the second half at 36-34. A three-pointer by Hall, Lehigh’s first of the night, with 6:39 to play put Lehigh up by four, while Ojo’s three with 5:12 on the clock gave Lehigh’s its largest lead of the night at 46-38.
Another Ojo three, this one coming with 3:58 to go, gave Lehigh an 11-point advantage and Army never got any closer than nine points the rest of the way as the Mountain Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak versus the Black Knights in the P.L. Tournament. Lehigh went a perfect eight-of-eight at the foul line in the final three minutes to help seal the win.
Lehigh now moves onto the tournament semifinals where the top-seeded Mountain Hawks will host the No. 4 American Eagles on Sunday, March 7. Sunday’s game will take place inside Stabler Arena with tip-off slated for 8:05. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by logging onto Lehighsports.com or at the arena box office prior to tip-off.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for seniors and students with a valid student ID. Lehigh students and faculty/staff must purchase tickets to the game because it is a postseason event. All ID card holders of any kind will be asked to purchase a ticket to the game. Season ticket holders are guaranteed their regular season seats and should purchase by phone or by visiting Grace Hall.
Lehigh - Army Post-Game Show