BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Riding another balanced team effort, the Lehigh men’s basketball team jumped out to an early lead before using a second-half outburst to cruise past Quinnipiac, 86-75, on Monday evening in Stabler Arena. Four Mountain Hawks (5-2) finished with double-figure points for the fourth straight game as Lehigh extended its win streak to five, all coming by double digits.
The 86 points mark the third time this season the Mountain Hawks have eclipsed 80, including one time they’ve hit 90. For the season, Lehigh is averaging 79.4 points per game. The five-game winning streak is the Mountain Hawks’ longest since their fifth straight came in the 2010 Patriot League Championship Game win over Lafayette.
“When you get home, you want to take care of business,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “That’s what quality teams do. They’re good on the road, but truly value the opportunities at home.”
Junior C.J. McCollum led the way with 23 points, 18 coming in the second half. Despite only four made field goals, he went 15-of-18 from the free throw line while adding four assists, three rebounds and three steals. Fellow junior Gabe Knutson finished with 19 on 8-of-13 shooting while Holden Greiner posted 11 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Mackey McKnight finished with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting and 2-of-3 from three-point range.
“It was tremendous to see the overall team contributions,” said Reed. “To get balance of scoring and contributions off the bench is gratifying. Despite an eight-day break [from the tournament at Liberty], it was really nice to see that continue to develop.”
Lehigh outrebounded Quinnipiac, 36-34, a team that entered averaging 47.2 boards per game with a rebounding differential of +14. Greiner’s eight boards led the way while senior Jordan Hamilton added six and four others posted three or more.
“For us to outrebound a team of that quality and that aggressiveness is a tremendous sign, especially since rebounding has been a struggle for us at times,” said Reed. “Holden Greiner really set the tone with a rebounding presence in the first half.”
The Bobcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Lehigh responded with 11 straight over the next 4:20 to take an 11-5 advantage with 13:25 on the clock following a Knutson layup.
The Mountain Hawks extended the run to 18-2, opening up a double-digit, 18-7 lead after freshman Corey Schaefer knocked down a pair of free throws. Quinnipiac pulled within 20-13 with 9:13 remaining, but a three-pointer by freshman Stefan Cvrkalj brought the Mountain Hawks’ lead back to 10.
Quinnipiac made a run, scoring 16 of the game’s next 21 points, led by James Johnson who finished with a game-high 25 points. Johnson scored five straight points in one stretch as a Ousmane Drame layup gave the Bobcats a 29-28 advantage with 3:23 to go in the first.
Lehigh responded with a 9-1 run capped off by a Hamilton three-pointer, making it 37-30 with 1:36 on the clock.
Holding a 39-33 halftime advantage, the Mountain Hawks used 64 percent second-half shooting to put 47 points on the board. With Quinnipiac hanging around midway through the half, down only 57-51, Lehigh used a 10-2 run to open a 14-point lead with 9:26 on the clock as a John Adams trey gave the Mountain Hawks their largest lead of the evening.
Lehigh would extend that lead late in the game as McCollum took it coast-to-coast and finished the fastbreak layup to make it 81-64 with 2:53 remaining. Quinnipiac pulled within 10 with 1:10 remaining, but couldn’t get any closer as Hamilton and McCollum combined to hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to erase any doubt.
The Mountain Hawks shot 48 percent (25-of-52) from the floor, 47 percent (8-of-17) from three-point range while Quinnipiac shot 45 percent (25-of-56) and 33 percent (5-of-15) from long range.
Lehigh returns to action Thursday when it travels to the Bronx to face Atlantic 10 foe Fordham. The Mountain Hawks head to Cornell just two days later for a Saturday night showdown with the Big Red. Both gametimes are set for 7 p.m.
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.