BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s basketball team erased a 10-point halftime deficit to force overtime, but couldn’t finish the comeback as Colgate handed the Mountain Hawks (14-12, 5-6 Patriot League) their second straight home loss, 94-90, on Wednesday evening. The Raiders’ 55 percent shooting proved too much to overcome as they snapped Lehigh’s two-game winning streak.
"I thought Colgate played an excellent game tonight," said head coach Brett Reed. "They made plays when they needed to and hit a number of contested shots. We used a great deal of energy to get back into the game, but ultimately fell short."
Sophomore C.J. McCollum finished with his 12th career double-double, ninth this season and fourth straight at home, as he posted a game-high 31 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. In the process, he moved into the top 50 in Patriot League history in career scoring. Entering the game in 51st place, he jumped all the way to 48th with 1,212 career points.
McCollum also moved from ninth to seventh in Lehigh single-season history, now with 581 points this year. Wednesday also marked his eighth-career 30+ point scoring outburst and fifth this season.
Three others finished in double figures for the Mountain Hawks, including junior Jordan Hamilton, who tied a career-high with 12 points, while sophomore Gabe Knutson and senior Michael Ojo posted 11 apiece.
Senior Prentice Small was strong off the bench, bringing a defensive spark while tallying nine points and five assists. Lehigh’s point guards combined for 11 assists on the evening as freshman Mackey McKnight also posted six. Sophomore Holden Greiner finished one point and two rebounds shy of a double-double as he finished with nine and eight, respectively.
Colgate’s Mike Venezia led the Raider charge with 27 points, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. Yaw Gyawu finished with 20, including a stellar 10-of-12 from the field.
Lehigh jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead behind a balanced team effort which saw all five starters score just 4:27 into the game. The Raiders responded, however, by going on a 13-4 run to take a 19-16 lead with 12:33 to go in the half.
A Venezia three-pointer gave Colgate its largest lead of the game at 40-29 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Lehigh responded with four straight points, which included a three-point play from McCollum, to pull the Mountain Hawks within seven. But Colgate again had an answer as a Mitch Rolls trey made it 43-33 at the half.
The Mountain Hawks began the second half on an impressive 14-3 run over the first 5:26, capped off by a McCollum layup to give Lehigh its first lead since early in the first half, 47-46, with 14:34 on the clock.
Colgate came right back with an 8-0 run to retake a commanding seven-point lead with 10:32 remaining, but Lehigh again began to chip away.
The Raiders extended their lead to as many as eight, 69-61, with 5:46 to go, which is when Lehigh staged its second impressive rally of the evening. This time, it was an 11-0 run spanning 3:56, to put the Mountain Hawks up, 72-69, with only 1:50 remaining. Knutson and McCollum spearheaded the rally with three points apiece while a Hamilton fastbreak layup put Lehigh up, 70-69, with 2:14 left in regulation.
As they had all night, the Raiders continued to answer, tying the score at 72 on the following possession off a Venezia three. McCollum answered with a pull-up jumper to put Lehigh up, 74-72 with 1:01 on the clock, but Colgate’s Gyawu evened the score at 74 with 36 seconds to go. Each squad had a chance to win it in the final seconds, but neither was able to convert, forcing overtime for the third time this season and second time in the last three home games.
Colgate began overtime on a 12-1 run to open an 86-75 advantage with 54 remaining in the extra session. Lehigh tried desperately to extend the game, forcing the Raiders to hit free throws. The Mountain Hawks even pulled within four (91-87) with 13 seconds remaining, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Lehigh finished 42 percent (28-of-66) from the field, 35 percent (8-of-23) from three-point range while Colgate finished at 55 percent (32-of-58) and 57 percent (12-of-21) from long distance. The Mountain Hawks won the rebounding battle for the third straight game and sixth time in the last seven games. Lehigh also finished with nine blocks on the evening, just one shy of a season-high.
The Mountain Hawks remain at Stabler for their final regular season home game when they host archrival Lafayette on Sunday (Feb. 20) in a nationally televised CBS College Sports showdown. Lehigh then hits the road for a pair, at Bucknell and Holy Cross, to wrap up the regular season. Tickets are on sale and may be purchased on Lehighsports.com or by calling the ticket office at (610) 7LU-GAME.