WEST POINT, N.Y. – Sophomore C.J. McCollum and senior Michael Ojo combined for 38 points to lead the Lehigh men’s basketball team to a 78-64 win over Army on Saturday, its third straight road victory. With the win, the Mountain Hawks (14-11, 5-5 PL) pull even in league play for the first time since mid-January.
“This is an excellent win for our program,” said head coach Brett Reed. “I was pleased with the way we responded and the way we maintained our focus. We got energy from different players throughout to help us gain the lead.”
McCollum led the way with 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting for his 10th straight 20+ point scoring game. Ojo wasn’t far behind, hitting for 16 points, including 3-of-8 from three-point range.
Freshman Mackey McKnight filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, four rebounds and six assists, while sophomore Gabe Knutson fell just short of a double-double, scoring eight while adding nine boards. Knutson received a vicious elbow midway through the first half, and missed the final stages of the half, but responded with all eight of his points in the second stanza to serve as a spark for the Mountain Hawks’ run.
Ella Ellis led Army with 13 points while Mitch McDonald and Brian Hornstein each cracked double figures as well.
“Early on, Army made some tough shots,” said Reed. “Offensively, we were bogged down a bit. But we responded with a player down and rallied around it.”
Leading by eight at the break, the Mountain Hawks used a strong second half surge to open up a 20-point lead. Army chipped away and pulled within 10 with 1:30 remaining, but Lehigh hit all four free throws down the stretch to ice the 14-point victory.
Army jumped out to an early 5-0 advantage, but the Mountain Hawks responded with a 9-2 run to take a 9-7 lead with 13:02 left in the first half. McCollum scored five points in that span behind a long jumper and three-pointer. The Black Knights came back with a vengeance, though, scoring 12 of the next 15 points to open a 19-12 lead with 9:17 remaining.
Lehigh began to chip away, as a Jordan Hamilton jumper pulled Lehigh within 19-14, then McKnight took a nice feed from McCollum for the easy fast break layup to pull within 19-16.
A Holden Greiner three-pointer rolled around the rim and in to pull the Mountain Hawks within 23-22. After a McKnight free throw, McCollum gave Lehigh its first lead in 7:24 with yet another jumper, to make it 25-23 with 5:38 on the clock.
Lehigh extended the run to 8-0, which included seven straight points from McCollum in only 58 seconds, to put the Mountain Hawks up, 30-23 with 4:23 to go.
Nathan Hedgecock ended the run with a layup, but Ojo responded with a three-pointer only six seconds later to give Lehigh a 33-25 advantage with 4:02 remaining in the half.
The Black Knights scored four straight to pull within 33-29, but Lehigh used a 6-0 run to open its first double-digit advantage of the game, 39-29, with 39 seconds on the clock. Hornstein added a layup with four seconds to go for the 39-31 halftime score.
Army scored four of the first six second-half points to pull within six, but that was as close as it would come. The Mountain Hawks put together a 16-2 run spanning 4:18, to open a 20-point, 57-37 advantage with 13:14 remaining in the half. Five different Lehigh players scored during the run, led by six from Knutson. He also had a nifty pass outside to a wide open McKnight, who knocked down the three to put the Mountain Hawks up, 49-37 with 16:16 on the clock.
The teams traded baskets over the proceeding minutes, with Army pulling as close as 15 on multiple occasions, but the Mountain Hawks continued to have answers.
The Black Knights wouldn’t go away, though, and staged a late 10-3 run to pull as close as 71-61 following an Ellis three-pointer. But Lehiigh scored seven of the game’s final 10 points down the stretch – including all four free throw attempts – to hold onto the 78-64 victory.
Lehigh shot 42 percent (26-of-62) from the field, 35 percent (7-of-20) from three-point range. Army finished at 41 percent (24-of-59) and 24 percent (5-of-21) from long range. The Mountain Hawks won the battle of the boards, 42-36.
The Mountain Hawks return to Stabler Arena for their final two regular season home games, beginning on Wednesday (Feb. 16) against Colgate. They then host archrival Lafayette on Sunday (Feb. 20) in a nationally televised CBS College Sports showdown. Tickets are on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610) 7LU-GAME.