Posted: 01/14/2012 | Last updated: January 16, 2012 at 08:52 AM
HAMILTON, N.Y. - After a slow start, the Lehigh men’s basketball team used a 22-3 run heading into halftime to surge past Colgate (5-12, 0-3 Patriot League), 78-56, on Saturday. Junior C.J. McCollum sparked the rally with a game-high 32 points while four other Mountain Hawks (14-5, 2-1) recorded double-digit points as well. Lehigh enters Wednesday’s home showdown vs. defending league champion Bucknell winners of two straight and 14 of its last 17.
“You get a team [Colgate] who starts to gain a great deal of energy and confidence,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “Playing at home gives them an extra burst, so giving them an early head start is something you want to avoid. But fortunately for us, we ended up settling down and our defense was pretty solid. We did a better job on Brandon James, who accounted for so many of their early points.”
After scoring 15 points in the game’s first 14:06, Lehigh exploded for 63 over the final 25:54 to eclipse 70 for the 19th time in as many games. That broke the previous school record of 18 straight set in the Mountain Hawks’ 2009-10 Patriot League Championship campaign.
McCollum’s 32 points came on highlighted by 11-of-21 shooting, 7-of-12 from three-point range. It marked his fourth 30-point scoring effort this season as he now has 149 points over his last six games (24.8 average).
Sophomore Mackey McKnight was a sparkplug, scoring 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting while adding seven assists, three rebounds and three steals. Senior John Adams set a season-high 12 points, including 4-of-5 from long distance, while also pulling down a season-high eight rebounds. Junior Holden Greiner also reached double figures with 10.
Brandon James was the story for Colgate, scoring 20 points, including 6-of-7 from three-point range. After he scored 15 first-half points, the Mountain Hawks clamped down to only allow five the rest of the way.
Overall, it marked Lehigh’s 12th double-digit win of the season and seventh coming by 20 or more points.
McKnight made it 2-0 just less than a minute into the game, but Colgate roared back with a 13-2 run, beginning with three straight James three-pointers. Mike Venezia’s floater rolled in to make it 13-4 with 15:55 on the clock.
The Raiders knocked down five of their first five shots, but Lehigh hung in. Adams knocked down the first of two first-half three-pointers just eight seconds later to pull the Mountain Hawks back within 13-7.
Lehigh used a mini 4-0 run, capped off by a Justin Maneri follow-up layup, to pull within five (16-11) with 12:00 to go, but Colgate extended its lead back to nine (24-15) with 5:54 left in the first. That’s when the Mountain Hawks took over, led by McCollum who scored all 14 of his first-half points in a 2:50 span. In that time, he knocked down three three-pointers and a deuce.
In total, the Mountain Hawks went on a 22-3 run over the final 5:54 of the first half, hitting six three-pointers, to take a 37-27 lead at the half.
After 20 minutes of play, the Raiders were shooting 43 percent (9-of-21) from the floor to the Mountain Hawks’ 41 percent (14-of-34). Lehigh was helped by 7-of-12 from behind the three-point arc.
Lehigh continued the momentum into the second half, as McCollum’s scored eight more points before the half was five minutes old.
His sixth three-pointer of the game made it 49-36 Mountain Hawks with 15:47 remaining, forcing Colgate to call timeout. Senior Jordan Hamilton knocked down a three just 1:36 later to give Lehigh its largest lead at 16 (54-38).
Colgate continued to hang around, but couldn’t pull any closer than 10. McCollum seventh trey of the game helped Lehigh regain a 61-48 advantage. The Raiders did pull within single digits, 61-53, following a Nick Pascale layup with 6:50 to play, but the Mountain Hawks immediately responded with nine straight points capped off by a McCollum three-point play, to make it 70-53, erasing any doubt.
Lehigh finished at 46 percent from the field (30-of-65) and 54 percent from three-point range (13-of-24). Colgate shot 41 percent (20-of-49) and 45 percent from long distance (10-of-22). The Mountain Hawks won the battle of the boards, 37-30.
The Mountain Hawks will return to Stabler Arena next Wednesday (Jan. 18) to host Bucknell at 7 p.m. in a matchup of preseason number one against two. 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.