LYNCHBURG, Va. - Behind a dominant overall team effort, the Lehigh men’s basketball team won its third game in a 48-hour span - all by double figures - as the Mountain Hawks downed Eastern Kentucky, 76-51 on Sunday to wrap up the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at the Vines Center. Four different Mountain Hawks finished in double figures, led by 13 points from junior Holden Greiner. The victory gives Lehigh its first four-game winning streak since its Patriot League Championship season in 2009-10.
“I was pleased with our performance on the court, but I was also very pleased by the way this team has come together,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “They’re really enjoying each other’s company over a long weekend, enjoying the opportunity to be together, trusting each other and ultimately building an identity that we play together as a family and we play solid defense.”
The 25-point margin equaled Lehigh's season-high which came two days ago in an 82-57 victory over William & Mary.
Freshman Corey Schaefer had a breakout offensive game with 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting while juniors C.J. McCollum and Gabe Knutson added 10 points apiece. Senior Jordan Hamilton chipped in with eight and sophomore Mackey McKnight posted seven. The Houston, Texas native played strong defense in holding Eastern Kentucky star Mike DiNunno to only three points.
For his efforts, McCollum was named MVP of the Lynchburg Subregionals while Greiner was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Lehigh used some nifty post moves from Knutson in the early going to take a 4-2 lead. Eastern Kentucky pulled within 8-7 following a Joshua Jones free throw, but the Mountain Hawks answered with six in a row via a Justin Maneri free throw, Greiner jumper and Stefan Cvrkalj three-pointer. That made it 14-7, forcing Eastern Kentucky to call its second timeout of the first half with 12:37 still remaining.
D’Mitri Riggs hit a three-pointer with 11:02 on the clock to break the run, but Lehigh got baskets from McCollum and Schaefer to go up 18-12 with 9:12 on the clock.
A Riggs layup pulled the Colones to within 24-19, but Lehigh used two straight jumpers - from Schaefer and Knutson - to make it 28-19, forcing Eastern Kentucky to call its third timeout of the first half with 4:05 remaining.
A Hamilton three-pointer put Lehigh up 31-19 with 3:09 to go, but Eastern Kentucky answered with four in a row over the final three minutes to pull back within 31-23 after 20 minutes of play.
DiNunno hit a three on the first possession of the second half, but Lehigh answered right back with seven straight points, capped off by a McKnight three-pointer, forcing Eastern Kentucky to call another early timeout.
McKnight continued his hot streak, nailing a jumper and a free throw for six straight Lehigh points, making it 41-28 with 16:27 on the clock.
The Mountain Hawks opened up a 49-31 advantage after a Greiner interior move and finish. Eastern Kentucky answered with three-pointers on consecutive possessions to quickly pull within 49-37, but senior John Adams hit a pair of free throws to snap the run.
After Greiner hit his first free throw, Knutson grabbed the offensive rebound and knocked down a jumper, giving Lehigh a 55-37 lead. McCollum later hit a jumper to help the Mountain Hawks regain their 18-point advantage at 57-39.
From there, the Mountain Haws continued to dominate, extending their lead to 20 for the first time, 65-45, after a McCollum free throw. Lehigh extended its lead to as much as 26 at 74-48 after a Cvrkalj three-pointer.
Lehigh shot 49 percent (23-of-47) from the field, 37 percent (7-of-19) from three-point range. Eastern Kentucky finished at 33 percent (17-of-52) and 25 percent (6-of-24) from three-point range. The Mountain Hawks won the battle of the boards, 37-29.
The Mountain Hawks will have eight days off before returning to action in their home opener next Monday (Nov. 28) when they welcome Quinnipiac to Stabler Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff. 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.