Four Mountain Hawks finished with double-figure points, led by 22 from junior Mackey McKnight on 7-of-12 shooting and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Greiner’s 16 came on 7-of-15 shooting as he reached 1,005 career points. Knutson had 10 on 2-of-3 shooting while junior B.J. Bailey added 10 points, five rebounds and two assists as well.
Tony Johnson led Lafayette with 24 points on 8-of-16 from the floor while adding eight rebounds and five assists. Seth Hinrichs scored 18, Dan Trist 13 and Bryce Scott 12.
“The atmosphere was tremendous. It was a great game between two very good teams,” said Reed. “We were able to build a run because we were attempting to play some defense. We went through a couple media segments in the first half allowing 10 or 12 points per segment. That hurt us.”
The Mountain Hawks’ season may not be over as they still could be invited to the NIT, CBI (College Basketball Invitation) or CIT (CollegeInsider.com Tournament).
Lehigh got off to a quick start as Greiner scored five early points with Knutson jumper in between. Greiner opened the scoring with a three-pointer, then less than a minute later, a short jumper made it 7-0 with 17:53 remaining. Lafayette answered with its first points less than a minute later to make it 7-2.
Greiner followed up a miss with an emphatic dunk to make it 11-5 with 14:30 on the clock. With Lehigh up 13-7 following a McKnight layup, Lafayette staged a 6-0 run behind baskets from Hinrichs, Johnson and Trist to even the score at 13 with 11:20 to go.
Knutson ended the run with a free throw, but Lafayette answered right back with the next five points to extend its run to 11-1 as a Johnson three made it 18-14 with 9:28 on the clock, forcing Reed to call timeout.
McKnight converted a three-point play on the following possession, but Lafayette’s Joey Ptasinski hit a three on the ensuing possession, then Hinrichs finished a three-point play to make it 26-17 with 7:48 on the clock, extending the Leopards’ run to 19-4.
Ptasinski hit another three to give Lafayette its first double-digit lead at 31-21, but Lehigh answered with a Corey Schaefer trey and Knutson steal and layup to make it 31-26, forcing Lafayette to call timeout. Lehigh finished the half on a 12-4 run as Cvrkalj knocked down a three with just over two minutes on the clock, then McKnight hit a driving layup as time expired to make it 35-33 after 20 minutes of play.
In the first half, Lehigh shot 57 percent from the field (13-of-23) and 43 percent from three-point range (3-of-7) while Lafayette shot 52 percent (14-of-27) and 27 percent from long distance (3-of-11). The Leopards held the rebounding edge, 13-12. McKnight scored a team-leading 10 points in the first half while Greiner had nine. Johnson led Lafayette with nine in the first stanza.
A Greiner offensive rebound and layup tied the score at 35 less than a minute into the second half and gave him 1,000 career points. The Leopards answered with the next seven to go up 42-35 following a Trist layup with 17:45 remaining. Lehigh answered with five in a row, beginning with a Greiner layup and three free throws to pull within 42-40. The back and forth continued as the Leopards immediately staged a 7-0 run capped off by a Ptasinski three to make it 49-40, forcing Lehigh to call timeout with 15:26 remaining.
The run extended to 14-2 as a pair of Hinrichs free throws put Lafayette up 56-42 with 12:38 on the clock. The Leopards’ lead eventually reached 16 (60-44) with 10:55 on the clock.
Lehigh slowly began to chip away, scoring six of the next eight points to pull within 62-50. From there, the Mountain Hawks scored five straight behind a Bailey layup and Greiner three forcing Lafayette to call timeout with 8:20 remaining. A Greiner steal and dish ahead to Schaefer pulled the Mountain Hawks within seven at 62-55.
The Leopards came back with four straight free throws, but a Cvrkalj three forced another Lafayette timeout with Lehigh down 66-58 and 6:24 on the clock.
A McKnight three-point play pulled Lehigh within five (66-61) with 5:35 to go. Just over a minute later, McKnight knocked down two more free throws to pull the Mountain Hawks within five again at 68-63.
Four straight Lafayette free throws made 72-63 with 3:50 remaining. Lehigh wouldn’t go away, knocking down four straight from the charity stripe to again pull within five (72-67). However, Lafayette scored 10 of the game’s final 12 points over the final 3:09 for the 82-69 final.
Lehigh finished shooting 47 percent from the floor (22-of-47) and 31 percent from long range (5-of-16). Lafayette shot 44 percent (24-of-54) and 27 percent from three (6-of-22). The Leopards won the battle of the boards, 35-24.
“I have enjoyed having the opportunity to coach these young men,” said Reed. “We’ve had some adversity and challenges that would cripple many teams throughout the course of the season. If you remove a player the magnitude of C.J. McCollum from most teams, they might be able to put a charge for a little while, but you’re talking about a team that has won 21 games and played the majority of the season without someone as instrumental as C.J. has been.
“That’s a testament to the other young men who have been out there, the way this team has bonded together. Not everything has been perfect, but seldom are seasons perfect. There has been a lot of positives things; I think we can hold their heads up high. As a leader of this program, I take a lot of pride with what our team has been able to accomplish.”
The Mountain Hawks’ season may or may not be over as they could be invited to a national postseason tournament. Check back to Lehighsports.com for everything Lehigh men’s basketball.
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