Posted: 03/06/2013 | Last updated: March 6, 2013 at 11:28 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Behind a sensational effort from senior Gabe Knutson, the Lehigh men’s basketball team bounced back from a nine-point second half deficit to beat Colgate 71-64 in the Patriot League Quarterfinals on Wednesday evening. Knutson finished with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 15 coming in the second half. With the win, third-seeded Lehigh advances to its fourth straight league semifinal and will head to #2 Lafayette Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
“It was nice to see that we could show that type of resolve,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “It took a great offensive effort for us to overcome some defensive deficiencies.”
Junior B.J. Bailey scored 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 3-of-4 from three-point range, including some key second-half baskets to give Lehigh the lead. Senior Holden Greiner added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds as he moved 11 points from 1,000 in his career. Wednesday’s win also marked the Mountain Hawks’ 999th victory in program history.
“I’ve been trying to go to some of my better moves and make good decisions with the ball, but I have to give credit to my teammates for getting me the ball and having confidence in me,” said Knutson. “We knew that we just needed to come together, get some stops and play together on offense and we’d come through.”
Junior Mackey McKnight scored four points while tying a career-high nine assists. Sophomore Corey Schaefer added seven points on 3-of-5 shooting and sophomore Stefan Cvrkalj posted five.
“It was nice to see Stefan raise our defensive energy,” said Reed. “We know him to be able to make shots, but he really wanted to defend and that energy ultimately transpired into energy for the other players.”
Colgate was led by Second Team All-Patriot League honoree Murphy Burnatowski who had 23 points on 11-of-22 shooting. Chad Johnson added 12.
Greiner got the scoring started with a three-pointer on the game’s first possession. After Colgate pulled within one, Lehigh answered with five straight, all from Bailey to take an 8-2 lead with 16:26 remaining.
A three-point play from Greiner gave Lehigh a 12-8 lead with 14:40 to go, but Colgate answered with a 6-0 run, all Johnson layups. His sixth point in 50 seconds forced Reed to call timeout with Lehigh trailing 14-12.
Colgate wouldn’t trail for the rest of the half as it went up by four (18-14) with 11:58 on the clock. Lehigh continued to answer and pull within a possession, but the Raiders eventually extended their lead to six, 27-21, with 6:06 remaining in the first half.
A Luke Roh jumper with 4:17 left gave Colgate a 29-23 lead, but the Mountain Hawks answered with five straight behind a McKnight layup and Bailey three to pull within one with 2:44 on the clock.
However, Colgate again had an answer and reopened a six point, 34-28 lead following a Damon Sherman-Newsome trey with 1:26 on the clock. Schaefer knocked down a driving floater with 1:06 to make it 34-30 at the half.
Colgate shot percent in the first half (16-of-32) and 18 percent from three-point range (2-of-11) while Lehigh came in at 44 percent (11-of-25) and 33 percent from long distance (4-of-12). Bailey led Lehigh with eight first-half points while Burnatowski had 14 for Colgate.
Burnatowski hit a three to give Colgate a seven-point lead just 11 seconds into the second half. The Raiders eventually extended their lead to nine (44-35) behind a Mitch Rolls trey with 16:58 remaining.
Lehigh immediately answered with a 10-0 run to take its first lead since 12-10. Cvrkalj knocked down a big three to make it 44-42 before Bailey converted a driving layup to give the Mountain Hawks a 45-44 advantage with 14:26 on the clock.
The sides went back and forth, tied at 48 and 50. Bailey again gave Lehigh a lead with a three to make it 53-50, as the Mountain Hawks wouldn’t relinquish the lead from there. The lead held at four until Knutson knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 64-58 with 3:25 on the clock. Less than 30 seconds later, Greiner hit a big three with 2:57 to go, giving Lehigh a 67-60 advantage and its first three-possession lead of the game.
Colgate pulled within five, but the Mountain Hawks hit enough free throws down the stretch to pull off their third straight quarterfinal win and improve to 8-1 over their last nine Patriot League Tournament games spanning the last four seasons.
Lehigh finished at 53 percent from the field (25-of-47) and 39 percent from long range (7-of-18). Colgate came in at 49 percent (29-of-59) and 24 percent from long distance (4-of-17). The Raiders won the battle of the boards, 29-27.
The Mountain Hawks will head to Lafayette on Saturday for the Patriot League Semifinals. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Tickets for Saturday are limited and selling quickly as Lehigh expects to use its entire allotment. To order tickets online, please click here. Saturday’s winner will face either #1 Bucknell or #4 Army in the championship game next Wednesday (Mar. 13) at 7:30 p.m.
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