POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Behind a career day from sophomore Holden Greiner and 35 points from fellow sophomore C.J. McCollum, the Lehigh men’s basketball team ended the game on a 20-6 run to turn a tightly contested game into a convincing 91-78 victory over Marist on Friday evening. Greiner finished with a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds on the way to his first-career double-double. The 91 points also mark a season-high for the Mountain Hawks, who even their record at 5-5 on the season.
“Marist is a young and talented team,” said head coach Brett Reed. “They’re vastly improved from last year. We were able to lock down and get some stops defensively in holding them to only six points over the last six minutes.”
McCollum finished with his third 30+ point game on the season, while falling one rebound shy of his seventh-career double-double. His 35 points came on 10-of-20 shooting and 6-of-11 from three-point range, the most made threes by a Lehigh player all season.
Down 72-71 with 6:34 to go, the Mountain Hawks took over, staging a 13-4 run for their first double-digit lead of the game, while continuing to tack on insurance down the stretch.
“We utilized the high post, which allowed us to get high-to-low,” said Reed. “We were able to use the face-up three-point shot, getting it in the post and back out. You saw some good unselfish passes to be able to convert,”
Making his first start of the season, Greiner was the story in the early going and in the late stages, as his three-pointer served as the dagger to put Lehigh up 83-74 with less than four minutes on the clock. Sophomore Gabe Knutson also added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Lehigh jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead behind four early points from Greiner, who also grabbed five rebounds in the early going. A McCollum open three gave the Mountain Hawks that five-point advantage with 14:56 to go.
Marist responded however, with a 15-2 run capped off by a trio of free throws from Anell Alexis to make it 19-11 in favor of the Red Foxes with 10:40 remaining.
The Mountain Hawks came right back with 10 of the next 16 points, as a Greiner jumper pulled Lehigh within 25-21 with 6:25 on the clock.
McCollum then took over, scoring five straight Lehigh points and seven of its next nine to pull the Mountain Hawks right back within 33-30. He took an alley-oop from freshman Mackey McKnight and was fouled, but still found a way to trickle it in, which pulled the Mountain Hawks within 26-24 with 5:42 to go. He hit four more free throws over the next 1:37 to help pull Lehigh within three.
The success continued for McCollum as he scored seven more points over the final 4:14 to finish the first half with 18. He evened the score at 33 behind a long three-pointer before a David Safstrom free throw with 1:37 on the clock gave Lehigh a 36-35 advantage, its first lead since 11-10.
A McCollum driving layup put Lehigh up 38-37, but Marist’s R.J. Hall hit a layup with time winding down to give the Red Foxes a 39-38 lead at intermission.
The teams went back and forth early in the second half with multiple ties and lead changes. Greiner continued his strong play with a strong drive to the basket where he finished for a three-point play to put Lehigh up, 45-43 with 18:11 remaining. Knutson then had a strong slam off a beautiful feed from McKnight to put the Mountain Hawks up, 50-48 with 16:09 to go.
Knutson caught fire early in the half with a string of seven points in just over four minutes as his three-point play gave the Mountain Hawks a 59-57 advantage with 12:07 on the clock.
A three-point shootout broke out midway through the second half as the teams traded treys in four straight possessions. A Michael Ojo three made it 66-64 Lehigh with 8:00 to go. After a Jay Bowie trey, McCollum hit his fifth three of the game to put Lehigh up 69-67 with 7:32 remaining on the clock.
With Lehigh up 75-74 with 5:18 remaining, the Mountain Hawks continued to use the three ball in staging an 8-0 run, which included five points from McCollum and a three from Greiner to make it 83-74 with 3:42 on the clock.
Two Greiner free throws gave him his career-high 18th and 19th points and Lehigh its first double-digit lead at 85-74 with 2:56 on the clock.
The stifling defense continued down the stretch and the Mountain Hawks hit their free throws to clinch their third double-digit win of the season.
The Mountain Hawks return home to Stabler Arena on Monday to host Saint Francis (Pa.) in their final game before a holiday break. They return to action on Dec. 23 at Southern California before coming home after that for a matchup against Saint Peter’s on Dec. 29. Tickets for all home games are now on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610) 7LU-GAME.