AMES, Iowa - Despite playing neck-and-neck with Iowa State for the entire first half, the Cyclones used hot shooting in the second to pull away from the Lehigh men’s basketball team, 86-77, on Saturday afternoon at the Hilton Coliseum. The Mountain Hawks used balanced scoring as 10 different Lehigh players scored on the afternoon, led by 17 from junior Holden Greiner which was two shy of a career high.
“Iowa State is a very talented team,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “They have a playmaker who is also a center. They’ve got shooters on the perimeter. They’ve got size, they’ve got athleticism. We knew that going into the contest.”
“We thought we’d have to play a near perfect game in order to beat them and we didn’t play to that level tonight,” Reed continued.
The final attendance stood at 13,343, the most at a Lehigh Basketball game since the 2010 NCAA Tournament against Kansas. Ironically, that was the last time the Mountain Hawks faced a Big 12 team as well.
Junior C.J. McCollum played a stellar first half (10 points, five assists, three rebounds), but was held to six points in the second. Lehigh’s freshmen were stellar as Iowa native Corey Schaefer sparked the offense with four points and two assists while Stefan Cvrkalj chipped in a pair of threes and Conroy Baltimore converted his only field goal attempt.
Also making a homecoming to Iowa, Knutson finished with 11 points, battling Cyclones’ big man Royce White underneath, who finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Anthony D’Orazio also chipped in with 11 points.
Iowa State opened up as much as a 26-point second-half lead before the Mountain Hawks continued to fight. Lehigh scored 11 points in the game’s final 2:25 capped off by a McCollum steal and dunk for the 86-77 final.
Lehigh jumped out to an early lead off a Greiner three-pointer after making a stop on Iowa State’s opening possession. Just over three minutes later, senior Jordan Hamilton made a steal and fed McCollum for a fastbreak layup to make it 7-2, forcing Iowa State to call an early timeout with 16:06 left in the first.
The Cyclones answered with an 11-3 run, but Greiner ended that with a three-pointer at the top of the key, evening the score at 13 with 11:20 to go.
The teams went back and forth over the ensuing minutes, with Lehigh going back in front 17-14 after Schaefer fed Hamilton nicely for a layup. The Cyclones went on to post threes in successive possessions with a Schaefer basket in between. The second trey made it 22-19 Iowa State with 7:31 remaining in the half.
Cvrkalj made an instant impact in his collegiate debut. Coming in off a media timeout, it only took him five seconds to knock down a three-pointer to even the score at 22 with 7:07 on the clock. On the ensuing possession, freshman Baltimore knocked down an interior shot to make it six straight points for the freshman class.
Cvralj continued to make an impact, tying the score at 29 with 5:12 to go on his second-career three-pointer (in as many attempts).
A McCollum three-point play put Lehigh up 32-31, but Iowa State answered with five straight points to open its largest lead of the half. However, the Mountain Hawks pulled within two on a basket from senior Justin Maneri before a pair of McCollum free throws with four seconds remaining pulled the Mountain Hawks back within three, 42-39, at the half.
Iowa State came out with the first five points of the second half and seven of the first eight to open up a 49-40 lead before Knutson ended that with a three-point play with 18:08 on the clock. However, the Cyclones scored the next six points to open up their first double-digit lead of the game, 55-43.
The hot shooting continued as four straight three-pointers gave Iowa State a 73-51 advantage. Greiner came back with a basket with 9:55 remaining, but the Cyclones came right back to open up a 24-point advantage following an Anthony Booker fastbreak layup.
Lehigh wouldn’t quit, eventually pulling all the way back to nine before the final buzzer.
Lehigh finished at 44 percent (28-of-63) from the field, 24 percent (5-of-21) from three-point range. Iowa State used a red-hot second half to finish at 57 percent (30-of-53), 46 percent (10-of-22) from behind the arc. The Cyclones won the battle of the boards, 38-28.
The Mountain Hawks’ busy schedule continues when they head to Fairleigh Dickinson on Tuesday before a three game in three day weekend at Liberty. Lehigh faces William & Mary, host Liberty and Eastern Kentucky as part of the 2K Sports Classic Subregional Round. 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.