HAMILTON, N.Y. - The Lehigh men’s basketball team erased a 21-point second-half deficit with an 18-0 run, but Colgate had just enough to sneak past the Mountain Hawks, 64-60 on Saturday afternoon. The loss snapped Lehigh’s four-game winning streak and five-game road winning streak. Junior Anthony D’Orazio tied a career high with 17 points, 15 coming in the second half while senior Holden Greiner added 12 points including three emphatic dunks as part of Lehigh’s comeback attempt which fell just short.
“I think our guys showed a lot of resiliency and a lot of character to come back in that type of environment,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “We’ve been able to do that in a variety of settings. The way we started the game was not the way we ultimately needed to play, and that was the difference in the game.”
Senior Gabe Knutson scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half to keep Lehigh within shouting distance. Junior Mackey McKnight scored eight while sophomore Corey Schaefer posted four. The Mountain Hawks struggled from three-point range, finishing just 17 percent from long distance.
Murphy Burnatowski led Colgate with 19 points while Pat Moore added 17. Colgate improved to 6-4 at home this season. The loss snapped Lehigh’s nine-game road winning streak against Patriot League foes.
Lehigh (18-6, 8-2 Patriot League) will now look ahead to a first-place showdown with Bucknell on Monday night, who also lost Saturday (to Lafayette). The winner will have the inside track on the Patriot League Regular Season Title and #1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament.
“We cannot control the results or the outcomes of any other games,” said Reed. “This was a message I wanted to make very clear to our players. That is not our role our responsibility. The only thing we can control is our best effort against the opponent that we face.”
Knutson got the scoring started with a drive to the basket and dunk to make it 2-0 with 18:30 remaining. However, Colgate immediately answered with a 22-2 run to take an early stranglehold. A Moore fastbreak layup made it 10-4, forcing Lehigh to call timeout with 15:48 on the clock.
A pair of Moore threes made it 16-4, extending the Raiders’ run to 16-2, forcing Reed to call his second timeout with 14:20 on the clock. A Clayton Graham layup made it 22-4, Lehigh to spend his third timeout of the half with 11:01 on the clock.
McKnight hit two free throws to break a 6:48 scoreless drought then the offense began to heat up, scoring on five straight possessions. However, Colgate continued its hot play offensively as Lehigh couldn’t pull any closer than 14 in the first.
After a Greiner jumper made it 28-14, the Raiders went on a 10-2 run capped off by a Moore offensive rebound and putback to make it 38-16 with 4:04 on the clock. The Mountain Hawks responded by scoring nine of the final 12 first-half points to pull within 41-25 after 20 minutes of play.
Lehigh shot just 34 percent in the first half (10-of-29), but did not hit a three-pointer (0-of-8). Colgate came in at 50 percent (16-of-32) and 50 percent from long range (5-of-10). The Raiders held a 21-14 edge in rebounds
A Burnatowski three, Colgate’s third trey in the first 5:16 of the second half, made it 52-31 with 14:44 to go, but Lehigh immediately responded. The Mountain Hawks went on an 18-0 run which included some strong defense that led to easy baskets the other way. The run included three steals and dunks, one by D’Orazio and three by Greiner.
A Moore fastbreak layup ended the run, and a Colgate scoreless drought exceeding eight minutes. That made it 54-49 Colgate with 6:19 remaining, but Lehigh answered by scoring seven of the next nine as a D’Orazio three with 3:04 remaining tied it at 56, the first tie since 4-4.
Lehigh’s offense went cold from there as Brandon James knocked down a pair of free throws to give Colgate a 58-56 lead with 1:48 to go. Lehigh had multiple chances to tie the score, or take a lead, but couldn’t convert. James added two free throws with 14 seconds to go, then Mitch Rolls went 4-of-4, all in the final 10 seconds to ice the 64-60 final.
Lehigh finished at 39 percent from the field (24-of-62) and just 17 percent from three (3-of-18). Colgate shot 41 percent (22-of-54) and 38 percent from long distance (8-of-21). The Raiders won the battle of the boards, 40-33.
The Mountain Hawks return home Monday to host Bucknell in a nationally-televised showdown on CBS Sports Network. The winner will have the inside track at the Patriot League Regular Season Championship and #1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament.
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